Deciding where to focus your marketing efforts? Here's what you need to know about the organic vs. PPC debate to help your site succeed.

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Organic vs PPC.


The never-ending struggle between SEO and PPC experts rages on as they both battle for their share of the budget.


Of course, there's really enough cash to go around. US digital marketing spend is projected to reach around $120 billion by 2021.


When it's your business' cash going into either or both of these strategies, you need to know you're getting what you paid for.


So which is better at delivering the results you need? In this blog, it's organic vs PPC all the way to the bitter end.

Organic vs PPC: It's All About Organic

'Organic' traffic means the number of users who come to your site without you spending money to promote your web pages.


That doesn't mean you haven't spent any money at all though - just not in terms of paid-for display ads or PPC (more on that soon). The amount of organic traffic you get depends on your search engine optimization (SEO).


To get your site optimized, you need content that reflects what you do and uses the terms that people are using to search for you.


So if you're a landscaping business in Utah, your target audience is searching for 'landscaping in Salt Lake City'. You can capitalize on this keyword by using this term in page titles, body titles, and blogs.


Don't overdo it - it needs to be a natural density, or search engines will disregard your site as spam. It also needs to flow naturally within the copy, or users will be completely turned off.

This can be a very affordable way of increasing exposure.


If you're wondering what keywords you should target, try out a few of the free tools on the Internet, or talk to an SEO consultant.


Backlinks from other sites will also increase your site's authority in the eyes of search engines - the bigger the better. A link from CNN is worth way more than your friend's blog, for example.

With the right keywords and great SEO-friendly content that users love, your traffic will increase exponentially.


Any custom SEO strategy you implement will take time to succeed though. You can't expect overnight results. You need to keep plugging away with new content and refine your approach over time.


So if you're looking for speed, maybe you should find out more about PPC. We've discussed this aspect of digital marketing below.

All About PPC

PPC stands for 'pay per click' and you might hear some people call it 'cost per click' too.

This is where companies bid on keywords and the highest paying firms are guaranteed top spots in search listings for those keywords.


They allocate a budget of cash to the campaign, from which the search engine gets paid every time a user clicks on the promoted links.


For example, if you put in a budget of $100 and offer up a $2 bid, you'd get 50 clicks from users before your budget ran out. The campaign would either expire at this point, or you could add extra money to the budget.


PPC gets fast results for specific search terms. This means it's great for attracting specific people looking to buy goods and services right there and then.


Many people are aware that these are ads. Given the relationship people have with traditional advertising these days, this might mean they ignore them.


However, people with jingling pockets who are looking to spend right now will be more game. Which is good for your business!


Because of the instant results it delivers, PPC can also latch onto traffic generated by other people's campaigns.


If a rival in your space is pushing hard with advertising right now, investigating and buying up similar keywords to them in PPC will get you instant exposure too.


Of course, this could be expensive, as it'll cause a bidding war between you to land the very top spots. Popular search terms are not cheap.

Organic vs PPC: Which is Best?

So which is best? An organic search strategy or PPC?


We think the answer is (drumroll please!)... both.


They're both great. They just have different uses - which complement each other perfectly. PPC is fast and nimble, but expensive. SEO makes your content better and your site more user-friendly, but it's slow.


If you have both, you can conquer both the paid-for and organic parts of search engine listings. That's a pretty powerful position to be in, and the results it produces negates the 'debate' around organic vs PPC.


It's really not a 'versus' situation at all. They're both elements that need to be integrated into a singular strategy.


On top of this, you need to be thinking about display ads, email campaigns, PR outreach via the web, and social media.


The more bases you can cover the better - with a caveat. If you're a small operation, it's best to do two or three things really well than struggling on with everything and pumping out mediocre results, like poor and unoriginal content.


This is likely to damage, not improve, your reputation among search engines and users alike.

Become a Search Engine Master

Now you've tackled the great organic vs PPC debate, what's next?


Perhaps you're looking to get a better grip on those Facebook and Twitter accounts or nail local SEO this year.


Whatever else you do, you must keep up to date with the latest news on SEO techniques, PPC best practice, and search algorithm changes.


As the landscape shifts, your strategy needs to change too. We've seen major shifts before, and we'll no doubt see them again.


Take a look at a timeline if you'd like to see more details. You'll see that most are small tweaks, but occasionally a big update rolls out and changes the game.


If your digital marketing strategy doesn't check all the boxes, your competitors could quickly overtake you. Don't fall behind!






Search Engine Marketing Columnist



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Search Engine Guide > Robert Clough > Organic Vs. PPC: What You Need to Know to Succeed