SEO or Paid Search?

Many companies wonder which kind of search marketing to invest in; search engine optimisation (SEO) or paid search (pay-per-click or PPC). Which will deliver better value, and be more worthwhile investing in?

Both are methods of getting found by web users who are looking for your products or services through search engines. Both have the potential to drive a lot of traffic to your site, and therefore a lot of customers to your business. But they also differ on a fundamental level, making it hard to choose which one to focus on.

In fact, each has its merits and they work best when allowed to complement each other. The best approach, therefore, is a combined one.

What Are SEO and PPC?

SEO is the art of making your website attractive to search engines, particularly when people type in certain, relevant terms. That way, your website gets moved higher in search results and search engine users are more likely to click through to your site. Pulling it off requires expert SEO services, whether they be from a specialist company such as BHM media who specialise in healthcare SEO or from a more general company.

PPC puts paid adverts for your site placed right at the top of results for some users. They are marked as ads, though how clear these markings are seems to be a near-constant variable and they look enough like standard search results to be mistaken for them at times. Each time somebody clicks on one of your ads, and only when they click, you pay a fee.

Which is Better?

It’s easy to feel like one approach renders the other pointless – though it’s hard to tell which should be the pointless one. What is the point of paying money for every PPC click when you have an ‘organic’ search link just below it? By the same token, is it worth the effort and expense of hiring an SEO company and getting to the front page when you can shoot to the top of search results with PPC and only pay for successful clicks – often at a cost of pennies for each visitor?

However, research has shown that even if your site is the top-ranking search result, around half of all PPC clicks will not be replaced by organic once if your PPC campaign is paused. If you are listed between 2nd and 4th place, then 82% of PPC clicks are ones that you would not get from organic search alone, and for ranks of five and below this is 96%. In much the same way, even with a paid search result present a significant number of people still scroll down past the ads, but end up clicking through to the site through organic results.

It is clear, then, that both paid search and organic SEO add unique value, and each method brings something that the other doesn’t. The best approach, therefore, is a coordinated effort which combines SEO and PPC to bring the greatest possible number of visitors to your site.