Which is best: SEO or PPC?


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Which is best for a small business: SEO or PPC?

From sticking with the short game to focusing on specific results, here are six answers to the question, “Which is best for a small business: SEO or PPC?”

  • Stick With the Short Game
  • It’s Not an Either/Or Situation… It’s Both/And
  • Short-Term Growth VS. Long-Term Gains
  • SEO Doesn’t Cost a Thing When Done Right
  • Depends on Lead Urgency
  • Focus on Specific Results

Stick With the Short Game

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long game, one that builds value over time, but can be painstakingly difficult and expensive to get going. For small businesses that don’t have the luxury of waiting months or years for SEO to pay off and need sales now, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a viable alternative.

PPC helps to level the playing field by competing for keywords on ad spend, not organic traffic or domain authority. With SEO, you’re going up against companies of all sizes, many of which have been around much longer than yours, making them tough to topple in the rankings. PPC lets you bypass the long-established rankings and get in front of a targeted audience. Plus, you have better budgeting control with PPC ads, without having to constantly create new content for your ads to work.

Alli Hill, Founder and Director, Fleurish Freelance

It’s Not an Either/Or Situation… It’s Both/And

Small businesses shouldn’t be choosing between SEO and PPC; they should create strategies and plans that incorporate both. Each has an important place in your marketing strategy.

SEO is great because it’s long-lasting and because you’ll continue to see the impact of properly implemented SEO work even after you’ve stopped spending time, money, and effort on it (although the effects will dwindle over time). Unfortunately, SEO is a long game. That means it won’t generate traffic or leads immediately.

PPC, on the other hand, is great because you can see immediate results and you can turn the flow of leads on and off. The immediate results are important for businesses that need to generate results quickly. And the ability to turn the flow of traffic on and off allows you to test new things quickly. With PPC, you can get a new piece of content, lead magnet, or offer in front of a large number of people quickly.

Ultimately, both PPC and SEO should be part of your marketing strategy.

Bobby Klinck, Founder, Bobby Klinck

Short-Term Growth VS. Long-Term Gains

SEO and PPC have relatively different ways of doing the same thing for businesses: increasing website traffic and conversions. For a grand opening event, PPC is the better option because it focuses on gaining results quickly through relevant keyword searches.

But if you’re playing the long game, organic SEO growth is crucial because it influences a business’ ability to eventually scale-up or advertise to a much wider audience. It’s a worthy long-term investment, whereas PPC is best used in spurts with specific growth goals in mind. It’s not so much one or the other, but how to balance using both to get the growth you want for your business in the time you have to get it.

Kevin Miller, Founder, Kevin Miller

SEO Doesn’t Cost a Thing When Done Right

We’re a small business and 90% of our traffic comes organically from blog articles and product pages that we’ve optimized with SEO. When you have an SEO expert and writer, you’ll be able to rank higher in the search results and earn that organic traffic as opposed to paying for it. SEO is all about signaling to Google or other search engines what your content is about.

We’re a very small business, but we outrank huge companies like Colgate, Crest, and the occasional WebMD because of our ability to optimize our SEO. With PPC, you’re spending money on every click. Most of those clicks will not be transactional and you can face bot attacks that click on your ads just to raise the cost. SEO is more complicated than PPC but when mastered, it’s the cost-effective route.

Seth Newman, Director, Sporting Smiles

Depends on Lead Urgency

If you’re looking to generate leads quickly, then PPC is your go-to option. With its overnight results and ability to target specific audiences, it can be an effective way for businesses to increase their customer base. However, there are some downsides that come with this quick fix approach: mainly cost! Although PPC campaigns can deliver fast returns, they require more money than SEO would in order to maintain success over time.

On the other hand, there’s SEO, which is great for businesses who want medium-long term growth and visibility in search engines such as Google. This type of marketing requires patience and dedication, but once established, it can produce fantastic results with minimal costs involved. You might not see immediate returns from optimizing content, but if done correctly it’ll eventually help boost organic reach without having to pay every time someone clicks through your page (unlike PPC).

Jamie Irwin, Director, Straight Up Search

Focus on Specific Results

As a recruiter in the marketing sphere, I’ve seen so many small businesses waste time and money on pay-per-click (PPC) strategies that go nowhere. The reason is simple: while PPC advertisements work in the short term, they often bring in customers whose needs don’t align perfectly with your company’s mission. That’s because they tend to target a single word or phrase. They lack specificity.

SEO, on the other hand, engenders a much larger reach. By creating valuable content— such as a blog or newsletter—and offering it on your website, you can naturally weave in dozens of search terms. This increases your overall reach, and ensures a targeted customer base who’s truly seeking out the services you offer.

Tim Walsh, Founder, Vetted

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