Digital Decisions: PPC, SEO or Both?

Intro note: In an ever-changing digital world that offers countless avenues to allocate your marketing budget, SEO/SEM Specialist Matt Hoffpauir outlines the key differences between SEO and PPC, and how they work together to help you meet your goals.  

Pay-per-click (PPC) digital ads have historically been pitted against search engine optimization (SEO) as if they are in a cage fight and only one gets out alive. In reality, not only can they coexist amicably outside the ring, but each plays a role that helps the other perform better.   

Here are four questions to consider when mapping out your digital priorities.

1. Which comes first?

While PPC complements SEO well, it does not replace the incredible value of having well optimized organic rankings. We prefer to prioritize SEO first and then use PPC to supplement certain keyword positions.

PPC allows us to fill in the gaps and help get brands top results for phrases that aren’t yet performing as well organically. Once an organization ranks at the top of the page for a given phrase, and no competitors are bidding for the spot above them, the PPC budget can shift to another search phrase that is underperforming. It is a dynamic and ever-evolving tool that compliments every marketing strategy.

2. Which advertising platform should you target?

Does every PPC advertising channel work for your business? In most cases, the answer is no. Much like the unique strategy that (should) drive every marketing tactic, every business has a unique target audience and some advertising platforms simply won’t attract the right crowd.

There is no standard mix; what is important is going where your people are already hanging out. For example, Tik Tok is a video sharing app that is popular with a young audience, but Google, LinkedIn and Facebook are more effective at targeting an older, more professional audience.

3. What are my competitors doing?

While there isn’t a silver bullet that can pick up complete data on every competitor, there are SEO audit tools that allow you to get a ballpark estimate on your competitors’ digital budget. This information can be a valuable frame of reference, but it’s important to reiterate that your organization is a snowflake, and there is none other exactly like it. Thus, it’s not wise to base your own ad budget on what a competitor is doing.

4. What does PPC cost?

The short answer: it’s complicated. The PPC strategy process itself can be quite complex, with many variables. For example, there are multiple product/service offerings that you may want to create campaigns for, there are several different platforms to consider and unlimited options regarding the resources you can put behind each.

The best course of action is to create an overall ad campaign that complements your holistic marketing strategy, and segment it out by geographic location as appropriate. As one would expect, the more you drill down, the more time, effort, management and reporting it will take to execute, all of which can impact cost.

To take the next best step in your organization’s digital journey, partner with a creative guide who can help you chart the course.