SEO vs PPC: What’s Best for Small Businesses?

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What if we said both?

At our Austin digital marketing company, Parrot Digital Marketing, we get asked this question a lot. It’s the (in)famous debate: SEO vs. PPC.

The truth is, it really depends on your small business, what kind of results you’re looking for, and how long you’re willing to invest in getting those results.

We know that’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but if it were as easy as saying one or the other, we wouldn’t recommend reading this short guide!

What is SEO?

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SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – is a broad topic. It encompasses so many different aspects that books have been written and rewritten about it.

If you’re wanting a complete guide to assist with your small business, then we suggest the MOZ SEO Learning Center. And if that seems like too much reading for you, then why not let us take care of your SEO for you?

In the meantime, and very briefly, here’s a basic definition: SEO is a marketing strategy that focuses on getting your website more visible on search engine results pages (SERP). When your target market runs a Google search for your type of products or services, you want to be on the first SERP – and you want to be as high up as possible.

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Google – and other search engines – have algorithms that determine the order that the results are displayed in. So by using good SEO practices, you’re letting those algorithms know your website should be featured prominently.

SEO is so important that in 2018, 61% of all digital marketing teams said that it was their top priority moving forward. And with 70% to 80% of internet users only paying attention to organic search results, some people consider SEO more effective than PPC (Hubspot marketing statistics).

What is PPC?

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PPC – or pay-per-view – is another very broad topic. Once again, we’re not going to bog you down with all of the details here. Wordstream has a great guide – and of course, we can take care of digital ads for you too.

In brief, PPC is a relationship you can have with an advertising platform like Facebook or Google, where you pay them to host and display an ad for you ( for many ad variants you’ll only pay whenever someone actually clicks on the ad). However, it’s most often used synonymously with SEM, or Search Engine Marketing. That’s because many PPC relationships tend to be with search engines anyway.

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But it’s very important to understand that PPC and SEM are not the same thing, even though a lot of SEM is actually PPC (and vice versa). As we saw in the previous section, 70% to 80% of all internet users are ignoring ads on their SERP and focusing only on organic results, which are created as a consequence of good SEO.

However, solid SEO results usually take at least 6 months, and often over a year. Pay-per-click can deliver results immediately.


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Now we can get down to business and decide when to focus on SEO and when to focus on PPC.

First and foremost, in the debate of SEO vs PPC, you need to understand that SEO is a longer term strategy, whereas PPC is more effective in the short term. So if you’re still building your website (we can help with that too!) and don’t have a lot of content, PPC might be the better choice. It can help drive traffic toward your small business’s website – which, coincidentally, will also help boost your search engine rankings.

But you also need to think about the cost factor. Even though you’re probably only paying for clicks (there are also campaigns in which you pay for impressions), the campaign could cost you 8x as much as focusing on SEO (MOZ via Enquisite).

Here’s the thing though: if we look at those marketing statistics again, that 1 PPC click is 1.5x more likely to convert a visit into a sale.

So Wait… Do You Invest in SEO or in PPC?

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SEO vs PPC – so, who’s the winner?

If you want to drive revenue as quickly as possible, then PPC is your best bet. It won’t be cheap though.

If you’re playing the long game and want traffic that you can build on for years to come, then SEO is the answer for you. SEO also often tend to be more affordable.

But here’s the thing: You shouldn’t be focusing on one at the expense of the other. That’s how you end up with an “overnight” success that ends up flat-lining shortly after, or a small business that’s set to succeed a year in the future… but doesn’t get that far.

When it comes to SEO vs PPC, the best answer is “both.” The two balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that benefits your business the best.

If you want to save yourself time and stress, our Austin digital marketing company, Parrot Digital Marketing, can assist you.

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Mandee is a talented copywriter, web designer, and all around digital guru. She has lived all over the world and is currently an American expatriate in Eastern Europe.

1 Comment

  1. Seo Young Chu Cv on June 16, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Therefore aids to get visitors from search engines.

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