SEO vs PPC. A common question in our industry is whether SEO or PPC is more important, or which should come first. It is best to run both SEO and PPC campaigns as part of your well-rounded internet marketing strategy. However, everyone's budget, goals and circumstances are different. Watch the video below to discover what you should do or what you should recommend to your clients.


Hello, and welcome to our seo vs ppc video. I'm Chad Hill, and I have Adam Stetzer here with me.

Good afternoon, Chad. We're taking about the merits of ppc vs seo as two competing internet marketing strategies. We get a lot of questions in the Semify forum. I get them on my Search Engine Watch blog posts. I get them directly from customers.

If I have a limited budget, seo vs ppc, which way should I go? Where should I put my money first? So what's your advice for these folks?

Yeah, I think the first thing to think about is what your investment horizon is. So if you're a business that's looking for leads this week or this month, then you always have to go with ppc vs seo because, as we've said many times in these videos and on our blog, SEO has a longer term investment horizon.

So if you're in a hurry, it's PPC, hands down, right?

Absolutely. I think one of the things though that, in the long run, the return on investment with SEO is much higher. And we were talking about this earlier. And one of our clients has said that if you think about SEO as building equity, that you really understand that you're building this equity in your website, it has a much longer term payoff and a higher return on investment.

And that's probably confusing for folks, because if you're not knee-deep into internet marketing and you're hearing all these acronyms and you're trying to decide seo vs ppc, you may be thinking, well I'm going to pay for either. Why wouldn't I want the one with the highest return on investment? I hear you say, Chad, that SEO clearly has the highest return, and I agree. All the data I've looked at, including the data from Semify as well as all the other white papers, say that over the long haul, SEO will certainly be a cheaper cost per lead. But it's really over the long haul, and how long might that really be? That's probably where people get hung up.

Exactly. And I think in online marketing strategy, it's always best to use both if you can do it and that's feasible. You want to have an organic approach and and SEO strategy, as well as a Pay Per Click strategy. But sometimes, that's not the case.

The second thing I wanted to mention is there's some other specific times where Pay Per Click is very helpful. And that's when you are operating in a local market but some of the terms people use for your business are national. And what I mean by is, take a term like plumber. It's would be very hard for a local plumbing company to rank nationally for the term plumber.

First of all, like I said, it would be hard. It would be expensive for the amount of effort. And it wouldn't really make sense because they would be getting phone calls outside of their service area. But what Pay Per Click allows you to do is it allows you to actually target those national keywords just in your market. And so that's a nice advantage.

Now, Google has applied some of the same ideas on the SEO side by including map results on some national terms. So you'll see on things like plumbers, an example, you will often see that it uses your IP address location and other preferences you've set up with Google to say, oh, he or she is looking for plumber and they're in this market. They probably want a plumber in this market, and shows you those results.

I think your emphasis on key word strategy is important in this ppc vs seo debate in another way, too. I think if you're not totally clear on what keywords really will convert for you over the long haul, then the answer is definitely PPC first. Because SEO takes so long, you don't want to be spending a lot of time and energy and effort and budget to get rankings on terms that ultimately won't benefit you.

Now we come across a lot of folks who think they know what keywords will work. But when we actually run a test with PPC, turns out they don't and we need to adjust. You can do that very, very rapidly with spending budget on ppc seo and you should, and then over time transition that budget into seo ppc as you see those keywords are working for you.

Yeah, that's a great point. And I think that's another reason that when you're looking at seo vs ppc, another thing to think about is that there are some advantages on the SEO side where one of tactics you need to use in order to improve your rankings is creating great and compelling content, both on your website and off your website. That content actually, on the SEO side and really from a content marketing standpoint, becomes great information that can be useful for actually converting your customers. So just like naturally as part of your SEO program, you're creating content. That same content can be used, of course, for SEO and will be, but it could also be used in your Pay Per Click program as well.

So this seo vs ppc debate is not simple as you think about all these different items, Chad. And the last one you just brought up with conversion is even more fascinating. When you want to do conversion testing, A/B testing, of course, to be able to throw traffic quickly at a page and test different versions, PPC is going to win hands down in a ppc vs seo debate.

So I guess our takeaway message is SEO has the better return on investment long-term. We've seen the data on that repeatedly in many different verticals and industries. So that's really, really where you want to be. But the answer is ultimately both, because there are advantages to PPC in terms of time horizon, testing, keyword discovery, and conversion tracking that make it important to be in your portfolio as well.