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Should I Be Doing SEO or PPC? Or Both?

I spend my days talking to business owners from nearly every industry.  It’s my favorite thing about my line of work: having the opportunity to learn about different businesses and organizations, and helping them craft an online marketing strategy.   A business owner is usually an expert in their respective field, and I get to learn about how they work, for whom, and perhaps most importantly, why.

Every business is different, and therefore every marketing approach should be.  Internet marketing is not for everyone, as I mentioned in my post on 8 Reasons Not to do SEO or PPC.  But if you identify that your target audience is searching for you online, how do you know if you should do SEO or PPC?

SEO vs. PPC

Image source: www.marketingbyweb.com

I answer this question with more questions: What are the goals of the campaign? How soon do you need to see results? What budget do you have for online marketing?

Different industries have varying levels of competitiveness in organic and paid results, so looking into what it will take to compete will help you make a decision.

The two work hand in hand and help each other out, as discussed frequently by internet marketing experts, including in this SEOmoz blog. The benefits of doing both concurrently are extensive, but with a limited budget, many of our clients are forced to choose between the two.  The advantages of SEO include:

  • The vast majority of clicks go to organic results (a study by GroupM UK and Nielsen determined 94% clicks went to organic results)
  • Higher long-term ROI
  • Having top rankings in search results not only drives the most traffic, but also indicates the relevance and importance of your business/ website.

That said, PPC has several advantages as well, including:

  • Speed to market
  • Testing Opportunities
  • Your ads can be changed and updated immediately, including targeted keywords
  • PPC is easier to customize
  • Protection from algorithm updates

PPC has a huge advantage in speed to market. The minute you start spending money in Google or Bing, your ads appear, and people will click through to your site.  Therefore, if you need to increase registrations to an event or class in the next couple months, PPC will likely be the best route.

SEO takes significantly longer, but the ROI can also be significantly higher.  SEO is a longer-term strategy that requires some front-end investment, but has long term lasting results, and you’re not paying for every single click to your site.

Other things to consider are how competitive the search engines will be for your industry, the cost-per-click for your main keywords, and the amount of money and time you have to manage your accounts.

Still need help deciding?  Give us a call or drop us a line and we’ll give you our best recommendations.

Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.


Lyndsey Kramer is the Director of Business Development at Digital Third Coast, a digital marketing agency based in Chicago. You can find Lyndsey on Twitter and Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

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