SEO or PPC: Which Does Your Business Need Right Now? / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The essential guide to help you choose which online advertising option is right for your business: SEO or PPC marketing

Business owners launching an Internet marketing campaign often struggle to decide whether to invest in SEO or PPC.

Like anything else, the best solution for one company is often very different than for another. Owners have to nurture their own niche and compete better in that area than anyone else.

For example, it would be insensible for a corner gas station to set up shop across the street from a competitor on the sole basis of the competitor's existing success. The new gas station would probably oversaturate the market, and customer loyalties could be at play. The same is true with PPC and SEO, where dynamic factors invalidate the feasibility of merely copying what others are doing and expecting the same results.

The point is that you will have to evaluate your own business, industry and finances to identify whether PPC or SEO could represent a more lucrative outcome. Both marketing channels can lead to success, but there are criteria that can be used to determine when one can be more appropriate than the other.

Related Article: Why You Should Consider Bing in Your SEO Strategy

First, Ask Yourself These Questions:

  1. In terms of SEO and PPC, what are my competitors currently doing?
  2. What are my competitors not doing?
  3. How long can I afford to wait for a payoff?
  4. How much can I afford to invest now to grow future revenue?

The factors listed above vary dramatically between different businesses. Your personal philosophy and goals can create even more variation. All of these subjective factors should be considered first before assessing whether SEO or PPC is the right solution.

Considerations for PPC

The most significant advantage of PPC is that benefits can be realized quickly. Succeeding at PPC can be as simple as selecting the right keywords and throwing enough money into the campaign to generate a profitable customer base in a matter of days. Unfortunately, the downside is that any competitor can do exactly the same thing.

A business that bases a successful PPC campaign on luck can expect competitors to move in quickly, not to mention probably waste a significant amount of money in the process. Sustainability, therefore, is a critical element that must be considered when planning a PPC campaign. Relevant and accurate data can help with the selection of relevant keywords, as well as the creation of attractive landing pages. Businesses with these assets are more likely to succeed in the long-run.

PPC Flowchart

Image via PPC Blog

Related Article: C'mon Click Happy: Elevating PPC ROI With First-Class Ad Copy

Considerations for SEO

As you know, SEO is a long-term endeavor. Businesses might expect to see an increase in revenue within six months, but profitability might take years. The advantage of SEO, however, is that the winner takes all. The first organic spot in Google's search results receives approximately 20% of total traffic for a given keyword.

All things considered, SEO rankings can change relatively little over time depending on the niche. Businesses that beat their competitors at SEO can earn first-mover advantage and generate more revenue to retain their dominance.

Unfortunately, many SEO markets are afflicted with hypercompetition. Other markets have almost no competition. Businesses have to conduct their own research to assess the feasibility of an SEO campaign in their competitive environment.

Slingshot SEO Study Results

Image via Slingsot

Related Article: Get Your Rank Up: The Essential Guide to SEO


The reality is that both can be advantageous in some scenarios. For example, assume that a small, isolated town has only two cookie shops. If 30 percent of the potential customer base in the town makes a purchasing decision after exposure to PPC advertising, a business that relies on PPC exclusively would miss out on the remainder of the market.

In contrast, focusing on both PPC and SEO could earn most of the available market share and potentially put the competitor out of business. Make sure that dominating either PPC or SEO will have enough market potential to reach your revenue goals.

Picking the Right Strategy

Businesses that compete in small, local markets often have to diversify to succeed. In contrast, businesses participating in large markets can afford to specialize in a single marketing channel. PPC and SEO are most of Internet marketing, which drives nearly two-thirds of all sales in today's world.

Simultaneously launching both PPC and SEO campaigns can result in significant sales growth for many businesses that are lagging behind on up-to-date marketing strategies. In contrast, accomplished businesses might want to consider specializing in a single campaign. Financial constraints should also be considered carefully to prevent launching an ambitious marketing campaign that is doomed to fail from the start. Evaluate your own business and market to determine which contingency is most appropriate for your situation.

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