What's the Difference between SEO and PPC? | Muletown Digital

What’s the Difference between SEO and PPC?

If you’re thinking about Digital Marketing you’ve likely come across the terms Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). While often lumped together, the way they work is not quite the same.
If you think about Google as someone searching the internet, the search engine results page (SERP) is where your search displays results. If you look below at an example search for “IT Services Nashville” you’ll see what I mean. The VERY top of the page is most often an example of PPC run through Google Adwords. That means those people are paying money to be at the top of the page in hopes of getting more clicks.
You’ll see the little word “Ad” next to the title – that means it’s a paid advertisement. So these examples are using PPC marketing to appear high on the page of Google.
payperclick ad
Below those, often there is a map if this is a local search, and then below that, you have your Organic Results. Map and Organic Results come from working on your SEO efforts.
organic ranking

SEO/PPC are both parts of Search Engine Marketing

SEO and PPC are usually lumped together because they are both parts of what we call “Search Engine Marketing” which means, the user has to start a search in order to find you. The benefit of that boils down to “intent”. When a user is searching for an “IT Company” – you can pretty much assume they are looking to hire an IT Company – or maybe apply for a job with one. But in either case, they are definitely looking directly for an IT company.
So doing SEO or PPC or BOTH of them makes sense if you’re in an industry where people are searching for things that you provide solutions for. Products and Services can both benefit from Search Engine Marketing, so long as there are people looking for solutions, your business can benefit amazingly well from being found in those searches.

How Does PPC Work?

You can think of PPC much like an auction. Your business will pay a certain amount of dollars for each click Google delivers to your website. So, someone makes a search for “IT Services” in Nashville, and you bid for the slots. If someone clicks on your Ad in the Google space, it charges you a certain amount for that click. That amount depends on the other people bidding in the space, as well as how relevant your site is to the search, how well you rank organically, etc. There is a VERY complex formula that figures out how much you’re charged, but that’s at the basic level of how it works.
So each time someone clicks and goes to say your home page, you will get charged for that click. Since it ranks at the top of the SERP (Google’s results page) you’re likely to get some really nice traffic from bidding on appropriate Ads. You also could lose a lot of money if your Ads are not targeted correctly. Hint hint – do NOT do this yourself unless you know what you’re doing. You can burn money up in an instant if you use Google (or the wrong agency) to optimize your Ads.

How Does SEO Work?

SEO works by positioning your website appropriately based on the search results. So, say your homepage is all about IT Services in Nashville. You’ve got a bunch of Google Reviews, you have a lot of people linking to your website, and you’ve optimized your site, you can rank in that lower section without paying anything per click. Plenty of users are smart enough to know they are being served an AD at the top – and they will scroll down to the Map or Organic Results sections.
Organic SEO can be an exceptional way to provide traffic to your website and help your business generate leads. It’s generally a good long-term plan to gain your traffic organically where possible. Since organic rankings are seen as “true” – the click rate on the top 3 positions of the SERP in the Organic space runs near 65%. So ranking this way is a brilliant way to position your business for the long haul.

How SEO/PPC Stack Up

SEO Advantages
  • Legitimizes your business and has the potential for a LOT of traffic.
  • You don’t have to pay for every single click you receive on your website.
  • Typically, you’re constantly working on your website, which also benefits your visitors.
  • You can cast a really wide net over your potential searchers, which means you don’t have to be ultra-specific with your offer to still generate traffic and leads.
SEO Disadvantages
  • You aren’t really able to get SUPER specific on your traffic.
  • It’s a LONG-TERM commitment. Once you start, you have to keep doing SEO or it will lose benefits over time with other businesses out-optimizing you.
  • It can take a long time to show a benefit (6 months usually).
  • It requires an Agency to handle this for you, and no matter how you cut it, there is grunt work on all sides of handling SEO.
PPC Advantages
  • You can grab traffic that you could not get organically if you have a new business or one with little domain authority.
  • You can be VERY specific with your target going after only specific locations, times of day, etc.
  • You don’t have to commit long-term to test out PPC – you can spin up a campaign and know within about 90 days if you’re going to have success with it.
  • Once your landing page is created, the major lifting is done from the website side of things. While we are often always adjusting and testing, it doesn’t require significant ongoing website additions (typically).
PPC Disadvantages
  • It can be VERY expensive depending on your location, search terms, and market.
  • You are always spending money to get a click, so it’s easy to lose a lot of money without getting appropriate leads
  • It 100% requires a professional team to see results. You cannot DIY this with success unless you really know what you’re doing.

What does Muletown Digital Recommend?

Every business (and market for that matter) is SO different that it really requires a customized plan of attack. Most often, we favor SEO because it’s better long-term to rank organically, but when you have a new business or a market where SEO is going to take a VERY long time, the combination of SEO/PPC can work amazingly well together.
Generally, if we can run both, we will. Our goal is over the period of a year to reduce the Ad spend and have the business standing on its own with organic ranking, but again, not every market makes that possible. If you need leads NOW, and your business will die without them coming in, you’ll likely need to start with PPC. If you’re doing amazing, but feel like long-term you could be doing way better, SEO is the better solution.
If you’re not sure what you need – be sure to book a call with our team TODAY so that we can help you sort out what you need.

Making mistakes here can be costly, so make sure you let our team of experts analyze your business, your goals, and help you figure out how to utilize a proper Search Engine Marketing campaign. When done right, the combination of these tactics is deadly, and can help you build your business while you’re sleeping!

Muletown Digital is a Columbia based SEO company offering SEO services to businesses throughout Tennessee, including NashvilleSpring HillBrentwood, and Franklin. 

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