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Pay-per-click vs SEO: which to use, and when?

Posted By: Jason

If you want to drive more traffic to your website, then you really have two choices: You can either use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising such as Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing or others, or you can optimise your content using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to make sure that you get to and stay at the top of the rankings.

They each have their merits; but how do you choose which to use and when?

Consider your budget

What's your marketing budget for this venture? If you choose SEO, there is little to no cost; however, it can be time-consuming and you will need the content to be written by someone with the necessary skills or to use an SEO agency to help maximise your chances of success.

PPC, on the other hand, has an ongoing cost; you'll need to set a daily budget with the provider and expect to keep paying for the duration of the campaign.

Both techniques have their weaknesses too. PPC campaigns can take a while to get right, whereas changing algorithms when it comes to organic search rankings (achieved through SEO) can mean a site that performs well one day might not the next - another reason to consider hiring professionals.

What does it cost per click?

If you're looking at PPC, you need to work out what each click will actually cost. Typically, PPC systems allow you to bid the amount you are prepared to pay, but use a tool like Google's Traffic Estimator and see what you will get for your money before you agree to go ahead.

How competitive are your competitors?

Using the Google External Keyword Research Tool you can get an idea of just how many other pages are looking for the top spot that you're hoping to get. Not only does this help you identify the competition, you'll also be able to see which techniques they are using to get them up the rankings.

Once you've done your research you'll be in a much better position to decide whether a PPC or an SEO approach will work better for your campaign. Of course, it doesn't have to be either/or; you could choose a hybrid campaign with elements of both. Whatever you decide, our experts are happy to discuss your requirements if you'd like professional help.