Often in the digital marketing world you’ll hear two main disciplines promoted and discussed besides social media – SEO, and PPC. A blended approach of the two is often incredibly effective – but here we explore their individual merits and how both can be used separately or in harmony to produce tangible results and increased revenue for your business online.

What is the difference between SEO and PPC?

Some people believe that SEO and PPC are the same thing – and whilst they are often employed together they in essence represent ‘organic’ search results and ‘paid for’ search results respectively. For example, the results you see at the very top of Google (and sometimes down the right-hand side) are displayed as ‘Sponsored Results’. These have been paid for, so each time you click on one of these links the business promoted pays a small fee depending on the competition in their field. Then you move down to the first result beneath the light yellow ‘Sponsored Results’. The companies you see here are likely to have invested heavily in SEO to feature first without paying Google directly. This is known as ranking organically. SEO involves website optimisation, constant monitoring, social media, blogging and more. PPC involves using an understanding of your market and Google to select relevant keywords and setting up an account and landing page, letting Google (and your customers) do the rest.

What are the advantages of both? How can they work well independently?

Although some champion one over the other, there are advantages to both methods. SEO gains more ‘kudos’ as it takes a lot of work and many different techniques to ensure that a website receives plenty of traffic and remains high in the Google search results for its chosen key terms. It also requires on-going attention and constant updates to retain good results. PPC can be implemented quite simply – but expert guidance is advisable to ensure that the right market and keywords are targeted to avoid wasting money. Both can be lucrative and attract significant returns compared with the spend required, and both have a cost attached – ranging from as little as £200 a month up to tens of thousands of pounds a month. It’s worth noting that if a PPC approach alone is employed the website linked to it needs to be optimised as it would be for SEO; as if customers don’t like what they see when they click through, you could stand to waste a lot of money.

How can they work well together?

When an organic SEO campaign is running successfully it’s good to ‘test the water’ and run a few PPC adverts to see which search terms are working well for you and which don’t. You can also assess whether your target market actually prefer Sponsored Results, or whether they are ignoring your adverts and going for the organic rankers instead. PPC adverts come with analytics, which means you can clearly see your conversion rate and other vital data enabling you to assess your overall marketing strategy. Some searchers only like to click on Sponsored Results first as they take priority and prominence, others feel the organic results have a better reputation. So combining the two approaches hits both markets – especially if you’re up top both organically and in paid-for results.

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