Some questions are not so easily answered. This is one of them. If you are an online business owner, you probably have asked that question more than once. Traffic being the lifeline for any online business, it is only logical to question what would make more and more people visit your website. Would it be SEO, or would it be Paid Ads? Even though their end goal is the same – to generate more traffic, the concepts at their core, are as different as apples and oranges. Depending on what kind of a pickle you are in, one can work wonders while the other can completely bomb, leaving you high and dry. Under different circumstances, the reverse could happen, making it all the more hard for you to decide. Below, we take a conceptual deep dive into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Paid Ads (PPC or Pay-per-click) and help you find some answers that you have long been seeking.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), in simple words, is a process of improving or optimizing your website and its web pages to increase their visibility with respect to relevant searches or keywords. The better your website’s SEO, the better it ranks on Search Engines like Google and Bing. And the better is its visibility in the search results, thereby improving its chances of getting more attention by way of consistent organic traffic and turn prospective customers into buying customers.
What is Link Building in SEO and why does it matter?
Link Building is a process of getting other websites to link back to your website and increase its referral traffic and domain authority in return. But why build links at all? Isn’t your website alone enough? To make it short – No! Google’s algorithms are always evolving and creating a strong linkable-asset base is one of the most important techniques used while performing quality SEO for your website. It is among the many factors that help search engines take the call on which sites to rank better for which keywords.
Websites with more backlinks tend to earn higher rankings but one important thing to remember here is the role the ‘quality’ of websites plays in the whole link building and SEO game. Because quality links from quality websites are a signal to search engines that your website is a worthy. It is also among the reasons why search engines rank some websites above others. Nobody wants to associate with shady, spammy-looking websites. Think of it as bad press for your business.
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Pros of SEO and Link Building
Higher Organic Traffic – Strong SEO and powerful Link Building means improved and consistent Organic Traffic through targeted keywords which essentially means much greater visibility.
Stronger Brand – Greater visibility when backed with superior content and a great service means enhanced brand awareness and recall value, credibility, and trust, eventually leading to a purchase.
Sustainable and Consistent Results in the Long Run – As the benefits of SEO and Link Building don’t immediately come to a halt when you stop paying, unlike Paid Ads or PPC campaigns.
An Improved CTR (Click-through Rate) – Because, as a general rule, a large percentage of the users click on top-of-the-page organic search results rather than on a highly placed ad.
Efficient and Cost-effective in the Long Run – A well-optimized site with strong content and good link authority will continue to bring in traffic even if you are off to a vacation for a month.
Strategically Advantageous – It is tough to get into the top tier when it comes to organic search visibility but once you are there, it serves as a distinct advantage over your competitors who will now have to up their organic game considerably.
Cons of SEO
It is Time-consuming – If you take the matter into your own hands and do it yourself with SEO tools and what not, it can take even more time. If you get an expert to do it, it will still comparatively less time but cost even more but the results should make for all the pain.
No Instant Results – There’s weeks or even months of gap between when you fully optimize your site and when the results start showing. But as discussed above, once they do, it will be a whole lot more rewarding than PPC.
Need for Authoritative Content – Content is the backbone of successful SEO. If you are writer yourself or have a way around the words, great! But if you aren’t and get someone to create it for you, it is going to cost you.
It is a Never-ending Process – Truth be told, your site will never be 100% optimized. Algorithms will keep evolving and along with them, you will have to too. The more effort you put into it the better you shall reap the rewards.
What are Paid Ads?
Paid Ads or PPC (Pay-Per-Click) is a digital marketing model that is used across a variety of internet platforms whereby you pay for every click to your website. For example, Google Ads. When someone types in a query relevant to your website and including your keywords, your website appears at the top of the results in the sponsored section, which is specifically created for PPC customers.
Importance of Paid Ads
Search engines and social media platforms make up for a major chunk of internet usage. There is not an internet user in the world that has not interacted with both, which is why Paid Ads or PPC remains one of the most successful forms of digital marketing and gaining higher visibility on search engines like Google and Bing. As per Statista’s report, with as much as 20% businesses claiming PPC brings in the highest ROI out of all the digital marketing strategies, to leave PPC out of your marketing strategies would be a sin of the highest order. Below we highlight some points as to why PPC works like a charm but how it also poses some challenges.
Pros of Paid Ads
Instantaneous Results – When it comes to SEO, you may have to wait days, weeks and even months in some cases for SEO to manifest its rewards but that is not the case with PPC. A PPC campaign can be created in just a few days, with quick results in the form of traffic, clicks, and conversions.
Top-tier Position – A paid ad appears above organic search results. If you play your cards rights, meaning keywords and targeted demographics, your brand could be the first thing a user sees after he or she types in a query.
Greater Visibility – Naturally then, appearing at the top of the search results, you are bound to get a few extra clicks as long as your ad is running, leading to improved visibility and subsequent brand recall value.
Control Over Budget – You decide how much you are willing to spend per day and for how many days. Depending on the daily results, you can even increase or decrease your daily spend while the ad is still running keeping in mind the expected results.
Highly Targeted Traffic – Laser-targeting allows you to get your brand in front of potential customers. You select the demographics based on the service or product you want people to buy: age range, gender, income, education, hobbies, and so on. This makes it easier to reach people you want to, cutting all the clutter easily.
Greater Stability – Google core updates and daily algorithm updates do not affect Paid Ads the way they affect organic search results. As long as your ad is running, you will at the top of the search results.
Push Time-sensitive Offers – Say you decide to have a flash sale for 2 days of few of your most popular products, SEO just won’t cut it. PPC on the other hand, would start delivering results in a matter of minutes.
Cons of Paid Ads
Gets Awfully Expensive Quickly – Internet Marketing has never been more competitive, with more and more opting for online-only businesses every day. You have to pay to get results, and the more you pay, the better the results. Eventually, it comes to point where you have to pay more to get the same results you were getting before. Think about the costs in the long run.
Recurring Costs – Unlike SEO, you can’t get to level where you have done just about enough and it will keep getting you consistent traffic even if you stop working on it altogether for a while. When you stop paying for PPC, you get no clicks, no conversions. As simple as that!
Prone to Imitation – Your competitor can easily imitate your messaging and start running virtually the same ad or ads of his own. In an extremely competitive setting like digital marketing, this is something that is just unavoidable and must be responded to proactively.
Can be Intimidating – Bids, Scores, Positions, CTRs, Demographics, Graphs, Charts and what not; all of this can be a bit intimidating and difficult to comprehend and work your way through it. Experts might need to be get on board which means added cost, especially you are a small business players just starting off.
Why you should prioritize SEO and Link Building first?
Now that we have gone through the pros and cons of both SEO and Paid Ads, let’s dive headfirst into the above question. Both are genuine ways to gain traffic and frankly speaking, it is not a question of either or but an integrated, synergistic approach wherein both the techniques benefit you and not hurt you. Having said that, whether you are a big fish or a small business player, in it for the long haul or just a short stint, however competitive you think your area of business is, and whatever budget you have we suggest you prioritize SEO and subsequent Link Building first.
- With strong SEO backed by solid content and Link Building, you are essentially poking search engines to take notice of you and request them to rank you higher. With Paid Ads you are poking potential customers to come take a look at you.
- With strong SEO in place, your website looks well-planned-out, organized and highly professional, which is always a plus when potential customers come looking, whether organically or through Paid Ads.
- With PPC, anybody can pay their way to the top and then vanish altogether when the money dries up. But if you are to compete with the biggies of the world and carve your way to the top alongside them, you need SEO, consistently. PPC can come alongside in short bursts to solidify your SEO efforts rather than as a standalone digital marketing strategy.
There may come a time when you prefer one over the other but the truth remains that there isn’t much of an SEO v PPC debate. Both benefit each other and should be used strategically. However, the pink of SEO health has always been and will be the benchmark for a solid, well-built, well-maintained website. And that is the thing you should ideally wish to achieve. After all, you win Google, you win all.
While you are at it, we have a bunch of SEO and Link Building Packages that we think can benefit you greatly in the long run. Better still, you can even request your free SEO consultation and we would get back to you in no time.