SEO VS. PPC: Which Is Better For My Digital Marketing?

There is a myriad of things the District Maven team loves about our job, but perhaps our favorite is the fact that we get to work with all types of business owners daily. These people are our proverbial spirit animals, individuals who are motivated, innovative, and live to hustle. Entrepreneurship is more a state of mind rather than a state of being, which explains the insatiable desire to hit the ground running – especially when starting something new.

This is always the attitude of clients when they begin working with District Maven. Not only are they looking to get rocking and rolling right away, but they also have a clear-cut outline of what online marketing strategies are right for their business. This applies whether one is starting a new company or revamping an existing one and leads to many questions.

Don’t worry - we love talking about marketing best practices with our clients (or hell, with anyone who will listen), and it is our job to give answers that make sense. Business owners are usually savvy enough to know industry acronyms but often lack a fundamental understanding of them and are unsure what methods will work best for them. We’ve found that most inquiries focus on the delicate relationship between SEO and PPC in recent years. Which deserves more attention? What will result in the highest return on investment?
There is a myriad of things the District Maven team loves about our job, but perhaps our favorite is the fact that we get to work with all types of business owners daily. These people are our proverbial spirit animals, individuals who are motivated, innovative, and live to hustle. Entrepreneurship is more a state of mind rather than a state of being, which explains the insatiable desire to hit the ground running – especially when starting something new.

This is always the attitude of clients when they begin working with District Maven. Not only are they looking to get rocking and rolling right away, but they also have a clear-cut outline of what online marketing strategies are right for their business. This applies whether one is starting a new company or revamping an existing one and leads to many questions.

Don’t worry - we love talking about marketing best practices with our clients (or hell, with anyone who will listen), and it is our job to give answers that make sense. Business owners are usually savvy enough to know industry acronyms but often lack a fundamental understanding of them and are unsure what methods will work best for them. We’ve found that most inquiries focus on the delicate relationship between SEO and PPC in recent years. Which deserves more attention? What will result in the highest return on investment?

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Breaking It Down: The Basics Of SEO & PPC

For those reading who have zero clue what we’re talking about, allow us to break down both of these acronyms for you.
For those reading who have zero clue what we’re talking about, allow us to break down both of these acronyms for you.

SEO

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and is undoubtedly the most thrown around marketing term in existence. At its most basic level, SEO is a methodology of how one formats their website and off-page campaigns in a way so that search engines can read it. Yes, the goal indeed is to rank higher in Google’s results pages for specific relevant keywords – but this will never happen if the search engines cannot understand your content and apply a level of authority to it. Achieving this requires a holistic approach that utilizes a combination of strategies both on-page and off – the ultimate goal is to convince Google of your company’s expertise in a given field.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and is undoubtedly the most thrown around marketing term in existence. At its most basic level, SEO is a methodology of how one formats their website and off-page campaigns in a way so that search engines can read it. Yes, the goal indeed is to rank higher in Google’s results pages for specific relevant keywords – but this will never happen if the search engines cannot understand your content and apply a level of authority to it. Achieving this requires a holistic approach that utilizes a combination of strategies both on-page and off – the ultimate goal is to convince Google of your company’s expertise in a given field.

PPC

PPC refers to pay-per-click advertising, where one spends money to place targeted ads on platforms such as Google, Bing, or Facebook, hoping that their target audience will see it. The amount paid is determined by how many people click on the ad, regardless of whether they become a customer or not. Web admins can control how ads are crafted and when and how frequently they appear.
PPC refers to pay-per-click advertising, where one spends money to place targeted ads on platforms such as Google, Bing, or Facebook, hoping that their target audience will see it. The amount paid is determined by how many people click on the ad, regardless of whether they become a customer or not. Web admins can control how ads are crafted and when and how frequently they appear.

Benefits Of Search Engine Optimization

Longevity – Even though it takes a considerable amount of time to gain momentum with one’s SEO efforts, a well-optimized website will continue to rank highly long after pay-per-click campaigns have finished.

Competitive Dominance – Any regular asshole can get their ad listed if they spend enough cash, but dominating organic search results requires a lot more skill than that. Since one can’t use money as a vehicle to buy their way in, SEO prominence is a hell of a lot more prestigious, too. It is effortless to maintain your site’s top spot status once achieved despite being a difficult club to get into.

Audience Trust & Credibility – Sure, Google ads technically appear at the top of the search results pages… but that doesn’t mean that people click on them. More often than not, the human viewer will skip over the paid ads entirely instead of scrolling through the organic results. This is because organic search results are far more powerful in gaining someone’s trust and establishing credibility, even if the user doesn’t recognize it.

Forces You To Put In The Work – We’re not going to lie to you – search engine optimization requires a lot of work put in over a long-term basis. There is no such thing as an “overnight success” for SEO. Despite being time-consuming, this forces business owners and web admins to put great thought and consideration into organic efforts. It requires many things to be successful in the Google results pages. As such, those who want to be profitable from it must regularly produce solid content, obtain trustworthy backlinks, and strongly emphasize the user experience.

Those looking for a “one and done” or quick fix will be quickly annoyed with SEO – and we’re pretty sure that is the point.
Longevity – Even though it takes a considerable amount of time to gain momentum with one’s SEO efforts, a well-optimized website will continue to rank highly long after pay-per-click campaigns have finished.

Competitive Dominance – Any regular asshole can get their ad listed if they spend enough cash, but dominating organic search results requires a lot more skill than that. Since one can’t use money as a vehicle to buy their way in, SEO prominence is a hell of a lot more prestigious, too. It is effortless to maintain your site’s top spot status once achieved despite being a difficult club to get into.

Audience Trust & Credibility – Sure, Google ads technically appear at the top of the search results pages… but that doesn’t mean that people click on them. More often than not, the human viewer will skip over the paid ads entirely instead of scrolling through the organic results. This is because organic search results are far more powerful in gaining someone’s trust and establishing credibility, even if the user doesn’t recognize it.

Forces You To Put In The Work – We’re not going to lie to you – search engine optimization requires a lot of work put in over a long-term basis. There is no such thing as an “overnight success” for SEO. Despite being time-consuming, this forces business owners and web admins to put great thought and consideration into organic efforts. It requires many things to be successful in the Google results pages. As such, those who want to be profitable from it must regularly produce solid content, obtain trustworthy backlinks, and strongly emphasize the user experience.

Those looking for a “one and done” or quick fix will be quickly annoyed with SEO – and we’re pretty sure that is the point.

Benefits Of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Instant Gratification – While dominance is brutal to earn organically, one of the things people love most about PPC is that results are far more instantaneous. It is fair to say that pay-per-click advertising is much faster, as ads will be placed in search results as soon as payment is received.

Significant Control – Whereas Google places organic results in an order they determine internally, one has far more control over the deployment of pay-per-click ads. Nearly everything about PPC can be adjusted and fine-tuned, including the ability to execute A/B tests and determine what the most effective ad is for your business.

Avoid Algorithm Changes – Organic search results can easily fluctuate at any time, without notice, whenever Google decides to make an algorithm change. Because you are bidding on your ad’s position, your organic rank is irrelevant when it comes to pay-per-click advertising.
Instant Gratification – While dominance is brutal to earn organically, one of the things people love most about PPC is that results are far more instantaneous. It is fair to say that pay-per-click advertising is much faster, as ads will be placed in search results as soon as payment is received.

Significant Control – Whereas Google places organic results in an order they determine internally, one has far more control over the deployment of pay-per-click ads. Nearly everything about PPC can be adjusted and fine-tuned, including the ability to execute A/B tests and determine what the most effective ad is for your business.

Avoid Algorithm Changes – Organic search results can easily fluctuate at any time, without notice, whenever Google decides to make an algorithm change. Because you are bidding on your ad’s position, your organic rank is irrelevant when it comes to pay-per-click advertising.

So, What's The Verdict?

Whether SEO or PPC reigns supreme is a hotly debated topic in digital marketing, and there is no denying that both are immensely important to one’s online promotional efforts. Still, these strategies are often considered opposites of one another – something that must be “chosen” over the other.

Here is our take: the best rule of thumb is always to apply a holistic approach. SEO and PPC are significantly more effective if deployed in tandem. After all, effective online marketing can be equated to a recipe – all the ingredients must come together to produce a mouth-watering dish.

However, it is a little-known fact that the overall effectiveness of pay-per-click ads is impacted by the SEO efforts of the site it points users to. Any average joe can deploy PPC campaigns, but the value Google places on them will vary significantly depending on its organic rank. In short, poorly optimized sites will pay more to display their ads less frequently than those with strong SEO.

While one isn’t technically “better” than the other… if one had to choose, it is our opinion that the focus should always remain with white hat search engine optimization. Remember that SEO forms the foundation of all digital campaigns, including pay-per-click advertising. One can throw money at running ads, but their benefits will stop as soon as the campaign does. Despite taking a lot longer to achieve noticeable results, organic search engine optimization can stand on its own without PPC. The same cannot be said for the reverse.
Whether SEO or PPC reigns supreme is a hotly debated topic in digital marketing, and there is no denying that both are immensely important to one’s online promotional efforts. Still, these strategies are often considered opposites of one another – something that must be “chosen” over the other.

Here is our take: the best rule of thumb is always to apply a holistic approach. SEO and PPC are significantly more effective if deployed in tandem. After all, effective online marketing can be equated to a recipe – all the ingredients must come together to produce a mouth-watering dish.

However, it is a little-known fact that the overall effectiveness of pay-per-click ads is impacted by the SEO efforts of the site it points users to. Any average joe can deploy PPC campaigns, but the value Google places on them will vary significantly depending on its organic rank. In short, poorly optimized sites will pay more to display their ads less frequently than those with strong SEO.

While one isn’t technically “better” than the other… if one had to choose, it is our opinion that the focus should always remain with white hat search engine optimization. Remember that SEO forms the foundation of all digital campaigns, including pay-per-click advertising. One can throw money at running ads, but their benefits will stop as soon as the campaign does. Despite taking a lot longer to achieve noticeable results, organic search engine optimization can stand on its own without PPC. The same cannot be said for the reverse.