SEO vs PPC: Which one wins the ROI game?
November 16, 2023
What has been updated from the old blog post: This blog post predominantly focuses on the ROI aspect of the SEO vs PPC debate.
Summary: The blog discusses the SEO versus PPC debate in digital marketing and their impact on ROI. It stresses strategic content investment for enhanced visibility. Insights from SEO expert Sarvesh Bagla and PPC specialist Sumeet Sinha reveal differences in timelines and cost-effectiveness, emphasizing how both methods influence online presence and ROI. The piece advocates a balanced strategy, combining SEO’s organic growth and PPC’s immediate visibility for optimal ROI.
SEO and PPC are two pillars of Digital Marketing. With more and more people accessing the internet for everyday use, these two services become paramount for advertising and branding of products or services. In 2023, marketers have 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 toward content development and marketing.
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 or PPC or Social Media), is it possible for any one method to bring results?
Like every marketer, we have the same answer – “it depends.” Jokes apart, to reach your desired goals, a brand needs to find a channel to fit its goals, not vice versa. But the question still lingers, is one better than the other? Does SEO win over Pay-per-click (PPC) ads in organic ranking?
To settle the debate, we sat down with our niche experts, Sarvesh Bagla (SEO) and Sumeet Sinha (PPC) to talk about both services. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation we had with them.
1. Can you briefly describe your experience in digital marketing and online advertising?
I have been working in the field of SEO for over two decades. I’ve worked with my team with various clients that have involved optimizing websites for search engines, improving organic rankings, and driving relevant organic traffic. I’ve also specialized in on-page SEO and off-page SEO strategies, content optimization, and technical SEO to enhance the online visibility of businesses.
I have over 14 years of experience in digital marketing, with a primary focus on PPC advertising. In my career, I’ve worked on multiple Pay-Per-Click campaigns across various industries and platforms, such as Google Ads, Bing Ads, and social media advertising. My experience lies in optimizing ad campaigns to drive targeted traffic, conversions, and ROI.
2. What are the primary differences between SEO and PPC advertising, and how do they contribute to a brand’s online presence?
SEO and PPC have distinct approaches. SEO aims to improve a website’s ranking in organic search results, which provides long-term, cost-effective visibility. It’s content-centric and requires consistent optimization. PPC, on the other hand, involves paid ads that offer instant visibility but require a budget. A combined strategy of both services can create a comprehensive online presence: SEO builds organic authority, while PPC targets specific keywords and demographics.
Additional Read: What is SEO
PPC advertising involves running paid ads on search engines or social platforms, and it provides immediate visibility and control over ad placements. It’s great for short-term goals and offers highly targeted results. However, it requires ongoing budget allocation. SEO, on the other hand, is a long-term strategy that focuses on organic search rankings. It enhances a company’s online presence by improving the website’s overall quality, which is vital for sustainable, free organic traffic.
3. In your opinion, what are the key factors that influence the return on investment (ROI) and give instant results in digital marketing campaigns?
It depends. A lot of factors like the age of a website or brand, whether their marketing efforts are integrated (offline & digital), the region/ audience that you’re targeting, etc. An important point that businesses need to remember 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 a campaign goes live. Hence for SEO, ROI relies on keyword optimization, content quality, and backlink strategy. And ROI here is measured through increased organic traffic, higher search rankings, and conversions.
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. On the other hand, PPC gives you instant ROI through clicks and conversions. And to further maximize the ROI, we can do constant monitoring and adjustment of campaigns according to the requirements.
4. When it comes to ROI, do you believe SEO or PPC is generally more cost-effective for businesses, and why?
I believe that Search Engine Optimization is a highly cost-effective strategy in the long run. While it may require some initial investment and ongoing efforts, the benefits it yields far outweigh the recurring costs associated with paid advertising. One of the most compelling reasons for this belief is that SEO focuses on generating organic traffic, meaning that the visitors who come to your website are actively seeking the information, products, or services you offer.
Once a website ranks well for relevant keywords, you can continue to receive this organic traffic without continually pouring money into advertising campaigns. It’s a sustainable approach that, over time, can also significantly reduce your customer acquisition costs and provide a steady stream of high-quality leads. Moreover, as your website gains authority and trust with search engines, its rankings tend to become more stable, further enhancing the cost-effectiveness of SEO.
PPC advertising offers quick results, showing your ads to the right people right away, with the option to adjust your budget and targeting. However, it can get expensive, especially for competitive keywords. SEO, on the other hand, is more cost-effective over time as it brings free, organic traffic to your website once you’ve optimized it for relevant keywords. I’d suggest that PPC and SEO should be combined together, as PPC provides immediate visibility, and when SEO results start to kick in, we can cut PPC spending while maintaining a strong online presence. The smart approach is to use both practices according to the budget and target audience to receive optimal results.
5. And what would work better in a competitive niche?
Oftentimes, large companies get frustrated when they don’t see quick results from their SEO investments. SEO needs time and money, and it’s not a magic fix. Big enterprises have big goals and strong competitors. Their requirements are getting organic traffic in the form of visitors from high SV keywords and turning them into leads. To reach these goals, they need a solid SEO plan and patience. And as we know, success in digital marketing comes from having expertise in that particular service.
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. Can you share a specific case or example where data and analytics played a significant role in optimizing either an SEO or PPC campaign for better ROI?
Certainly. In a recent PPC campaign, we analyzed ad performance data and found that a specific ad copy variation had a significantly higher click-through rate. By reallocating the budget to that ad, we increased the conversion rate by 15%, resulting in a substantial ROI boost.
In an SEO project, we used analytics to identify high-traffic, low-competition keywords. By optimizing content for these keywords and building high-quality backlinks, we achieved a 30% increase in organic traffic over a few months, significantly improving the ROI of the campaign.
7. In highly competitive industries, like BFSI or e-commerce, what strategies or tactics have you found to be particularly effective when using SEO or PPC?
We use SEO to boost the online visibility of the brands. Large enterprises have high query intent keywords. Therefore, we focus on making product pages easy for search engines to find, improving website speed for a better user experience, and using structured data to help search engines understand our provided content.
We dedicate our teams to creating top-notch content and improving the overall user experience. These SEO strategies when combined together help us stand out in a competitive market, ensuring a sustainable return on investment (ROI) as our clients consistently rank well in search results and engage with their audience.
In highly competitive industries, PPC advertising is a tough battleground. To get the most from our investment and boost our ROI, we use several tactics. We focus on precise ad targeting to reach the right people.
We also use dynamic product ads to show personalized products to users. Retargeting keeps our brand in front of interested users. Data-driven bidding and A/B testing help us use our budget wisely and improve our campaign. By following these strategies, we excel in a competitive field, reaching the right audience and increasing conversion rates for our clients.
Additional Read: Remarketing vs Retargeting
8. What future do you see for your channel?
Looking ahead, I’m quite optimistic about the future of SEO. It’s proven its ability to adapt to changing algorithms and how people search online.
As the digital world keeps growing, businesses will keep turning to SEO to make sure they’re visible to the right audience. Plus, with search engines getting smarter, SEO will keep evolving with new tricks and tech to stay on top of the digital marketing game. All in all, I think SEO is here to stay and will keep being a key part of successful online strategies in the times to come.
Internet penetration and dependence are increasing by the day. As more and more people gain access to the 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, Instagram, etc. Hence, I see a very bright future for PPC.
In the ongoing debate of SEO vs. PPC for ROI, the winner ultimately depends on the specific goals, industry, and strategy of a business. Search Engine Optimization offers sustainable, long-term benefits and is well-suited for organic growth, while PPC Advertising provides quicker, measurable results with higher initial costs. In many cases, a balanced approach combining both can be the winning strategy, as each complements the other’s strengths and weaknesses. In the end, the choice between SEO and PPC should align with a brand’s unique objectives and resources to achieve the best ROI results.
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What’s your take on the whole situation of SEO vs PPC? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.