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SEO vs Paid Search: Why an Integrated Approach to Digital Marketing is Critical to Success

Why an integrated SEO and Paid Search Strategy is Critical for Higher Marketing ROI

Within a marketing strategy, all campaigns and channels should be well-integrated and work holistically to maintain consistency, make it easier for your customers to find you, and create more leads and sales. When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) strategies, businesses often fall into the trap of focussing all their efforts on one or the other, rather than looking at an integrated approach. At different stages, one approach may work better than the other, but overall it’s really impossible to choose one strategy as being better than the other. 

Both SEO and PPC are digital marketing strategies that can both produce great results by encouraging potential customers to visit your website or platform, engage with content or complete a sale, and essentially helping you meet your business goals. Each strategy has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to understand them both well enough to be able to decide which strategy is stronger for a particular goal or campaign. Below I take a look at SEO and PPC individually, and then how they can work together to create a robust marketing strategy that can help businesses really excel. 

How do you improve organic traffic to your website with SEO?

SEO helps to elevate your brand awareness and attract more traffic to your webpages without any direct charge when people click on your content. Whilst this might sound like it’s a freebie, when you break it down it isn’t completely. Getting a featured snippet of a landing spot in the top ten on Google requires a solid foundation of great technical SEO, page and domain authority, and investment in content research, creation, and strategy. This takes time, resources, and effort, which from a business perspective is costly. The results from SEO strategies often take a longer time to take effect, and it therefore requires a long-term commitment from a marketer to keep up to date. 

What are the advantages of SEO Strategy?

  • SEO, when executed properly and once a site is fully optimised it can retain a high position in the search results and can continue to generate traffic, leads, and sales long after a PPC campaign has ended. 
  • SEO could bring higher quality leads to your website because many internet users will skip past paid results and skip straight to organic links subconsciously. This stems from searcher trust. Having your site show up in the organic search results improves and increases your perceived credibility. 
  • There is no cost per click which means it’s easier to quantify time and cost and it’s also easier to manage. Whilst we have acknowledged it takes time and effort there is no direct charge per impression or click, which makes SEO strategies often highly cost effective.
  • Better click through rate (CTR) compared to PPC.
  • Strategically, once you have established yourself within organic search, competitors can’t just outspend you and take your spot.

What are the disadvantages of SEO Strategy?

  • It takes time and effort to build up consistent flows of organic traffic. It often takes months to achieve so SEO is definitely not an overnight win. You need a team who have the time and resources to commit to this long-term strategy.
  • SEO is very competitive, especially if you’re competing with larger companies such as Amazon who already dominate a market. It can make it very hard for smaller or newer businesses to compete organically. 
  • SEO, when implemented by an inexperienced team or implemented poorly, can damage your website visibility and credibility. You need a knowledgeable team to execute an SEO strategy well, or you risk reputational damage.

How do you improve organic traffic to your website with PPC Advertising?

PPC, like SEO, also boosts your brand reach and awareness, but with PPC you pay for advertising space on search result pages based on specific keywords you select. Whilst click through rates and trust factors are largely in favour of organic growth and SEO, there are also huge benefits to PPC advertising, so what are these benefits and what attracts businesses to opt for paid search strategies?

What are the advantages of PPC Advertising?

  • Paid search adverts are positioned first and they dominate ‘above-the-fold’ content meaning that they are the first thing that a user will see when searching for a specific query.•    PPC adverts give you more control over the space and design of the advert such as adding more sitelinks, pricing and bullet points. You can also utilise imagery which makes the advert more visually appealing and gives you the opportunity to brand all your content.•    A well set up PPC can be cost effective and easier to budget as you can set fixed limits on spend.
  • PPC provides hyper targeted marketing opportunities to get you in front of the right audiences, as you are able to target by location, keyword, or device.
  • A PPC campaign can be set up and published quickly with fast results. It is much faster than building up an organic presence.

What are the disadvantages of PPC Advertising?

  • PPC can be expensive, and costs can quickly accumulate. This is especially true if the person executing the campaign doesn’t know what they’re doing. Mistakes can carry heavy financial consequences.
  • PPC requires continuous investment, so once you stop paying your ads disappear and your leads will stop. 
  • PPC isn’t always the best strategy if you have a small budget, as costs add up fast. In many industries if you’re spending less than $25-$50 per day on clicks, you won’t be seeing an adequate ROI. 

Should I use SEO or PPC Advertising? 

This question is impossible to answer without considering the context, position, budget, and goals of an individual business, and in an ideal world, an integrated approach using SEO and PPC would be preferable. By running both strategies at the same time, you are able to take advantage of the following benefits: 

  • Data collected through PPC can be fed into organic search strategies
  • High-cost keywords or low converting keywords that are still important can be moved from PPC to SEO strategies
  • A/B testing of ad copy and landing pages can be fed into your organic content and landing pages
  • Increase brand awareness, trust, credibility and confidence by having a strong brand presence from SEO and PPC content

Essentially each strategy should have strengths to make up for weaknesses in the other strategy. A holistic approach which uses PPC for fast ROI, targeted leads, and conversions as well as a long-term SEO strategy which optimises your platform and website for organic leads in future, is the best approach. Whilst this won’t be possible for all businesses, if you’re working in a high growth, highly competitive market, a holistic search engine strategy will definitely give you more of a competitive advantage than using either SEO or PPC in isolation.

Hiring PPC and SEO Specialists

Are you ready to create and execute your integrated marketing plan but don’t have the right team? 

Get in touch with me directly for support and advice on identifying, hiring, and onboarding exceptional marketing talent across organic and paid search strategy in the UK and Germany. 

Alternatively, browse our current digital marketing roles on our website.