SEO or PPC – Which Is Better For A Small Scale Business?
December 1, 2014
The tussle between SEO and PPC continues as Digital Marketing grows into becoming the leading medium of advertising and branding. Statistics show that internet users across the world are expected to grow to 3 billion by the end of 2014 with nearly two-thirds of that rise coming from emerging economies.
With greater access to the internet in far-reaching places, Internet and search marketers need to work twice as hard and stay constantly vigilant about staying visible in front of the right people at the right time.
Does that sound too overwhelming? It could be. But not if there’s a real strategy in place that’s followed, measured and adjusted in a timely manner, and especially not if a significant portion of that investment is directed towards content development and marketing.
Believe us, there’s plenty of room for everyone. But how do you get ahead? How do you make the right moves? Considering the fact that Digital marketing comprises several different pathways to the same goal (SEO, PPC, Social Media), is it possible for any one method to bring all the answers?
Like good little marketers, our non-answer is “it depends.” Jokes apart, you need to find a channel to fit your goals, not vice versa. Still, is one better than the other? Does SEO trump Pay Per Click (PPC) ads?
We sat down our resident experts, Sarvesh Bagla and Dino Roy, to talk about SEO and PPC, respectively. Below are the excerpts from their chat.
1. Does SEO yield better results than Pay-Per-Clicks ads? Which method delivers a better ROI?
“It depends actually. You need to consider various factors like the age of your website, the age of your brand, whether your marketing efforts are integrated (offline & digital), the region/ audience that you’re targeting, etc. SEO is really good when you’re looking at long term results and a more firm reach.
An important point to note is that SEO has a considerable gestation period and results take time to surface whereas PPC has the potential to deliver instant results from the moment your campaign goes live.
Small businesses often blame agencies or SEO itself when they don’t get desired results. However, the fact is that in a competitive industry, getting instant results for SEO is difficult. I always tell my clients not to rely on digital marketing alone. When you spread your budget over a number of mediums and platforms, you’re more likely to have a stream of leads coming in. It’s simply the law of average that works.”
“I think PPC ads are a good way to get instant results if the need for leads is immediate. Moreover, over the past year, SEO has undergone a lot of changes that take people time to catch up with. With all these new quality requirements, it’s not easy for marketers to drop everything and change entire content strategies overnight. Besides, the results take a while to show up. PPC gives you instant ROI through clicks and conversions. Small businesses tend to gain through PPC since they have smaller marketing budgets and need faster results.”
2. Which of the two do you think works better from the point of view of conversions?
It’s again relative. I won’t say one is better than the other because they both work quite well, depending on the scenario. SEO yields considerably good conversions but you need to take certain factors into consideration to achieve your desired results. SEO can benefit only when you have a wide range of keywords that are being worked upon. Working on a few keywords can never be enough; in fact you tend loose in the process.
It (SEO) is essentially the driving motive that determines the medium(s) to be chosen. If quick conversions are what you’re looking at, you’re better off working with Pay-Per-Click ads but if you want to reinforce your branding along with driving conversions, you should work with SEO.
The PPC offers greater visibility that can be measured quickly, the flexibility to choose from a wide range of locations, age groups, interest groups, time slots, keywords and much more.
The fact that ads can be customized to such a great extent implies that ads are more effective and have a higher probability of conversion.
3. Which of the two fairs well from the short term perspective?
If you’re looking at results for the short term then PPC is an apt solution. However, SEO can also give you instant results in scenarios where the brand is already well known and has a wide acceptance in the market.
For instance, we undertook an SEO project for our clients, Bollywood Shaadis (bollywoodshaadis.com), which helped them increase their traffic from 3 lakhs to 4 lakhs within a few months, but that success is also contributed by being present in a high-demand industry. But I’d recommend PPC for small businesses since their purpose for marketing is mostly directed towards conversions.
There are no two ways about PPC being the best marketing tool for instant results. Clicks start coming in within very short periods of the launch of a campaign. And if you happen to have a well-structured and optimized landing page, that increases your chances of early conversions.
However, it usually requires monitoring the campaign for a while to understand the user trends and then campaigns can be optimized accordingly for optimum results.
4. Which of the two is the best for brand building?
Brands are built through visibility. Again since Digital Marketing is integrated, the best way to brand your business is by being visible through multiple touch points. So you need to engage into a combination of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay Per Click) and Social Media Marketing (SMM).
However, being visible in organic searches does create an impact and helps establish you as a brand.
Branding banks on visibility and PPC helps you gain eyeballs across multiple platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. People spend 95% time on display networks and only 5% of their time on search network. We all know that the hammering effect works very well for brands and that’s exactly what PPC helps you achieve.
5. And what would work better in a competitive niche?
Oftentimes, SMB’s complain about not seeing results despite spending a lot of money. Yes, SEO does take considerable monetary investment and time to yield results but marketing is not magic. Small businesses have budget constraints limiting their marketing avenues, which means they need to focus on building better quality products and better experiences for their customers. At that point, any marketing tactic becomes an extension of the brand and what it stands for.
Using PPC, top rankings can be achieved and sustained by either increasing your Cost-Per-Click (CPC) or improving your quality score. Besides, ads can be customized to a great extent using filters and long-tail keywords therefore targeting the niche better.
Moreover, to achieve optimum results huge investments are not required therefore making it a perfect choice for small businesses.
6.Let’s say a business owner has a digital marketing budget of INR 10,000; how should they utilize that budget for maximum returns?
For small businesses, a regular stream of leads is very essential. SEO is beneficial when it’s performed on a wide variety of keywords, which can exceed strict budgets. Good digital marketing agencies would never be ready to work with such a low budget and if you hire a freelancer, the results will be questionable. In this scenario, PPC ads can be a much better investment of money, both in terms of leads and response-time.
Though digital marketing is an integrated program that encompasses SEO, PPC and SMM altogether to work effectively and yield results, PPC is the best choice to make when marketing budgets are limited as they yield results faster than any other medium.
7. How easy is it to measure results between SEO and PPC?
The bottom line for any business is the revenue generated from each direct or indirect activity. SEO is simple and easy to measure. Rankings and leads generated from the on-page and off-page activities performed on your website help measure the effectiveness of SEO. However, there are various other paid tools that can be used to measure footfalls and improvements in a website’s rankings that SEO brings about for a business. For small businesses, analytics and rankings usually suffice.
Deploying and monitoring performance variables using the standard analytics tool is usually sufficient for small business. The market offers a robust set of measuring tools, both free and paid, which can help analyze how a campaign is performing.
Paid tools are never really required for small businesses since they have lesser products and simpler work structures.
Digital marketing is an integrated process and none of the channels can be singled out as being the best and self sufficient. For best results, companies should use a combination of all channels of marketing, namely, organic, paid and social. However, the growing presence of consumers on social media platforms has made it impossible for organizations to ignore having a presence in there.
PPC is compatible with social media. A lot of people perceive social media and PPC to be poles apart, but that’s wrong. Businesses that have fared well in social media platforms can always display their likes and followings in their ads.
It’s not just about the quality score but also how well you have designed your landing page. Landing pages can also be used to display and highlight social media presence and achievements.
9. When can PPC and SEO work well together?
PPC and SEO always work well together. As I said, digital marketing is an integrated approach and spreading your advertising budget over different channels will help you have a continuous stream of leads coming in.
Having a presence in a number of channels impacts the image of businesses in a positive way and goes a long way in building trust in consumers about your products and services.
In fact, if you put yourself in the shoes of the customer, you’d realize the importance of having a sound digital presence and how it helps carve an image about the brand.
10. What future do you see for your channel?
It was a gloomy year for quite a few industries last year, however digital marketing was minimally impacted; if anything, we’ve seen more marketers allocate budgets to content and digital marketing. While ups and downs are natural to every business and industry, the important point remains that you can’t afford to get out of a customer’s mind once you’ve created even the slightest of impact. Undoubtedly, out of sight means out of mind.
SEO in particular was under the knife every now and then with numerous updates and algorithms but based on the trends I’ve witnessed ever since Techmagnate came into existence, SEO is here to stay and stay for good.
Digital marketing has always shown an upward moving curve and I have a strong belief that it’s only going to get better and stronger as long as brands and business stay cognizant of the necessity of developing great content.
Internet penetration and dependence is increasing by the day. As more and more people gain access to internet, visibility will become the prime agenda.
PPC as a digital marketing channel has evolved too with new and better tools to facilitate better visibility and tracking, not just in Google but in various other channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. too. Hence, I see a very bright future of PPC.
The conversation could go on and on, but the gist remains based in a few key factors that are timeless: a great product, great customer service and great messaging (and now, content) transcend the pendulum swings that come with marketing trends. Whether you’re using SEO or PPC or even other mediums to gain visibility and get ahead, you’re not going to retain clients or
convert prospects if they find little value when they interact with you.
What’s your take on the whole situation? Share your thoughts with us.