PPC vs SEO: Which One Works Best for Your Digital Marketing?

By Julia Koh & Syira Junaidi
March 2020
When we talk about digital marketing, the topic that will come up 90% of the time is search engine marketing (SEM). And with SEM comes the great question; should you spend money on search ads or take the time to build SEO ranking? Which is better, PPC or SEO?
Both Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) help you get more traffic to your website. As you build your brand online, you need visitors to your website and online channels to get crucial brand awareness, action and engagement. Two methods stand out in the field of SEM, and we’re going to look into both options.

Pay-Per-Click

These are advertisements you see on top of your search results. Websites pay search engine service providers such as Google or Bing to have their web links pop-up whenever a keyword is entered by the user.
You can easily tell if a web link is an ad on the search results page through this icon:

PPC is very effective in getting traffic to your website, simply because it’s the first few links your customers will see. As the name suggests, you’ll only be paying for the clicks you get, not impressions or views. It’s also compliant to your budget and allows you to set a time period of your ad campaign.

How do you make paid ads more efficient and get more bang for your buck? Build a landing page.

When you set up a paid ad campaign, it’s better to direct users to a landing page instead of a general home webpage. It will tie in with your advertising and marketing campaign and allow users to take action faster and more efficiently. Whether your campaign goal is to get subscribers, free trials, demos, purchases, or bookings, a landing page boosted by paid ads would be a great solution.

Organic SEO

As you scroll past the ad links on top of the search result page, you’ll find more web links that continue to pages 2,3 and beyond. These are ranked through SEO by the search engine’s system. We call them organic results because these links are sorted purely by the algorithm, based on relevance, visits, and other analytics. Paid boosts do not apply to SEO.
The greatest advantage SEO has over PPC is perhaps its non-promoted content. 70-80% of users only focus on the organic results as they use search engines like Google. We love our content like we love our food; organic and fair.
That being said, building SEO ranking takes time. It takes a lot of content and strategic keywords for a website to be ranked on the first page. SEO-driven links also usually lead to a blog page or article, which is why blogging and web content is vital to get good SERP ranking.
PPC Organic SEO
Fast Results
You can track and analyse results within days
Long-term Results
You would see substantial results over time
Budget-friendly
You can set the ads as per your budget
Cost-Effective
Building SEO is cost-effective but will require research and investment
Grabs Attention
Being on the top of a page ensures that you will get some attention
Less Intrusive
Certain customers prefer non-promoted content as being more trustworthy
Suitable for Landing Pages
Ties in with your campaign
Suitable for blog posts
Builds authority for your web

So, which one is better?

The short answer is, it depends on your objectives. Both PPC and SEO are great methods to get web visits, clicks, and ROI. Both methods require strong keyword-targeting. Yes, even paid ads require you to determine what keywords and content to use.
Think about what your objectives are, what stage of the marketing funnel are you in, and what your digital marketing strategy aims to do. In the marketing campaigns that we develop and implement for clients, we utilise both PPC and SEO as part of an integrated approach to achieve the overall campaign objectives.
You can start by identifying your SEO keywords and building your web content. A good website would have a consistent message, though not keyword stuffing (which is heavily penalised in search engines). As you build up your organic reach, you can then supplement it with paid ads that drive users to specific landing pages and boost your ranking.