Which is best: SEO or PPC?
Considering that ‘organic’ search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising are the two most prevalent digital marketing strategies in businesses today, it comes as no surprise that we are regularly asked by our clients which is best: SEO or PPC?

Ignore organic search at your peril
The answer of course is not straightforward, and in fact for many businesses a combination of the two approaches works best. However, some people who have relied on the instant traffic and quantifiable results of PPC are loathe to rely on SEO at all, given that SEO is a type of marketing that can take more time and resources. But given the fact that nearly 80% of website traffic comes through the organic search engine results, with more and more searchers relying on the relevance of the natural search listings and becoming less swayed by paid advertising, it is simply a fact that no company can afford to ignore organic search engine optimisation. Your online competitors may have a PPC campaign, but if they are successful in their digital marketing, then you can bet on the fact that they are also carrying out effective natural SEO.

The bottom line
Perhaps the most compelling argument for SEO over PPC is the bottom line: the cost and the return on investment (ROI). PPC is an expensive strategy; the monthly cost can easily run into thousands for SMEs if they want to achieve constant visibility, whereas SEO can be done in-house by a trained employee with the knowledge, time and resources, or by an SEO agency for a manageable monthly fee. SEO also usually gives a far higher ROI: more traffic (given that most searchers click the natural listings) for less, and traffic that you can rely on over the longer term.

The views of independent experts
Jumping Spider Media is a digital marketing agency, and while that means we are bound to be verging on the evangelical when it comes to the benefits of SEO, it should be noted that as a media agency we run all sorts of campaigns – some purely PPC – as we tailor our campaigns to our clients’ needs. However, you don’t just have to take our word for it when it comes to why, for most companies, SEO is not just beneficial, but vital. There is a plethora of articles written by independent marketing experts which back this up:

“The golden rule in marketing is that you should constantly strive for maximum results and ROI for your budget. In other words, if your marketing is making you a profit – even if it’s a thin profit – it’s worth it. By this model, pay per click is worth doing, but overall pay per click will leave you with thinner margins.
The reason for conducting a natural search engine optimization campaign is to significantly increase your margins over the long term.” WebProNews.com
“While a PPC campaign can deliver traffic with relative ease, it can be very costly and has no real longevity — once you stop shelling out the cash, the traffic goes away. SEO and link building require a lot more creative effort but can have more sustainable results. It also allows a business to target a larger base of users as most studies reveal that 75 – 80% of searchers click on organic listings as opposed to paid listings.” SearchEngineGuide.com
“SEO is advantageous over PPC because it is a flat rate and not ongoing pay-for-campaign. With PPC you might find yourself spending a lot of money and not getting any ROI. SEO or Organic Optimization is focused on long-term results. We focus on organic SEO because it is more cost-effective. Research has found that more than 80% of website traffic is generated by organic results as oppose to PPC.” MerchantCircle.com
“SEO is strategically better because if you are able to somehow find an edge or advantage, you’re likely to hold on to this competitive advantage longer with SEO than you would with PPC…Since PPC is based on a near real-time auctioning process, it’s really hard to build advantage and keep it…Once you put in all the brilliant hard work to get leads and customers via SEO, it’s much harder for others to take that advantage away. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against PPC. For many businesses, it’s a great way to get profitable traffic through the search engines. I just think that over the longer-term, an investment in SEO will likely yield better results and more sustainable competitive advantage.” HubSpot.com

You may find it helpful to read the full article from which this last quote is taken: Hubspot.com (Inbound Marketing Strategy):

You can also read through the comments on that blog post: more unbiased opinions on the worth of natural SEO. As one commenter pithily puts it, “SEO is for life, PPC is for Christmas!”.