- What Do You Need to Get Started with PPC?
- How Much Should You Spend on PPC?
- What Does PPC Success Look Like?
We’re wrapping up this series by answering another frequently asked question – “Can PPC replace SEO?” (Spoiler alert: It can’t.)
There is a lot of confusion around this topic because both types of online marketing use keywords as building blocks and they share similar goals, which leads new advertisers to falsely believe that PPC and SEO are interchangeable. This misconception leaves advertisers without the relevant information to make informed marketing decisions. We don’t want you to fall into the same trap!
Hopefully after you’re done reading this article, you’ll understand the essential differences between PPC and SEO, be more knowledgeable about how they work together, and feel equipped to make decisions about prioritizing your marketing efforts.
With PPC the goal is to get targeted traffic to your website to generate conversions (sales, sign-ups, quote requests, calls, etc.). PPC lets you place ads directly in front of searchers at the exact moment that they’re looking for your product/service offerings, resulting in paid traffic that is more likely to convert.
SEO is about increasing relevancy to get more organic traffic to your website and ultimately generate the same types of conversions. The more relevant your website is to a product, service, or informational topic that someone is searching for, the more likely the search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) are to return your site in the search results when someone searches for something that they’re interested in buying or learning more about. Therefore, by improving your SEO efforts, you can improve your online authority, which results in better branding and more traffic.
Ultimately, both forms of online marketing aim to get people to your site to fulfill their needs through your company. However, the approaches are very different.
Since PPC and SEO both result in more traffic and (hopefully) more conversions, it’s easy to forget that the tactics employed by each are completely different. PPC uses a push approach to get visitors to your website, whereas SEO uses a pull approach to get visitors there.
PPC ads appear when people search for the keywords that are tied to your ads. This makes PPC ads highly targeted. However, regardless of targeting, ads are typically an unwanted result for searchers. Most people don’t go online to search for something hoping that they’ll get served some great ads. However, an ad can be so effective that people decide to click on it anyway even though that wasn’t their original intention. That’s how PPC ads give searchers a gentle shove to your site when they might not have otherwise ended up there. This is considered a “push approach.”
SEO tactics pull visitors to your site by making the content so relevant and so appealing that the search engines don’t have any choice other than to display it when people search for the product or information contained there because it’s exactly what a searcher wants to see when he/she wants to see it. When it’s served, the quality of the organic listing is so engaging that searchers are compelled to click on it to find out more. This process is known as a “pull approach.”
PPC and SEO work well together to form a well-rounded marketing approach. By combining techniques, you can avoid losing traffic to your competitors, resulting in more sustained visitors to your site.
While both PPC and SEO use keywords as the basis of their efforts, the keyword themselves are different.
PPC keyword lists:
- Are large to encompass many possible keyword variations
- Can be developed using online keyword generation tools, brainstorming sessions, and competitive research
- Can be changed frequently based on data analysis
- Are experimental in nature
SEO keyword lists:
- Are smaller and more focused (usually 3-8 per page)
- Need extensive internal research internally and externally
- Require an ongoing commitment to succeed
The logical question that follows is, can there be overlap between your PPC and SEO keywords?
All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. In the same way, all SEO keywords are PPC keywords, but not all PPC keywords are appropriate as SEO keywords.
You should bid on your SEO keywords in your PPC campaigns to create continuity across your marketing channels, but you shouldn’t just dump all your PPC keywords into your SEO efforts. So, if you pay an online marketing company to do keyword research for you, make sure you know which kind of keyword research they’re doing and how the keywords that they generate should be used. Don’t just assume that you can use the keyword list that you get for both your SEO and PPC efforts.
Complementary End Results
Let’s get back to our original question: Can PPC replace SEO? The answer is no.
SEO and PPC should be used together for optimal results because their different approaches and methodologies produce complementary results. PPC is the pass to jump to the front of the line and SEO ensures that you’ll be able to keep riding indefinitely. Using both diversifies your efforts so that you’re not relying solely on one form of marketing to drive traffic and revenue.
Additionally, sharing data between your PPC and SEO campaigns improves the effectiveness of both!
Having your site show up organically and in the paid results gives your business more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP), which helps to block out your competition. This is a win-win because it provides searchers with additional ways to get to your website while also reducing the likelihood that they’ll end up on your competitors’ sites.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!