SEO or PPC Where to Focus Digital Marketing Effort

SEO or PPC – Where should digital marketing efforts be focused?

Decisions on how to get the best value from your digital marketing budget can be tricky especially when you consider the costs of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (pay-per-click) Ads. However, the right decision is always a data-driven decision that makes the best sense in terms of ROI. For new websites, or websites that have not yet had much in the way of digital marketing, the focus should almost always be a combination of both SEO and PPC until enough data is available to make a more informed choice. Let’s look at why…

Firstly, the main thing to understand is that the choice should never be to use one or the other. You should look at the conversion data and allocate your digital marketing spend appropriately between PPC and SEO based on the approach that delivers the best return. Conversion rates achieved from both approaches differ significantly depending on the industry, and, of course, determining with 100% accuracy the source of a conversion is not always possible because customers’ initial point of entry to a database may not be the same as the entry point resulting in a conversion.

What we do know is that over 53% of all website traffic is generated through organic search, according to BrightEdge, and for most sectors, SEO offers a higher ROI than PPC. But SEO cannot deliver instant visitors to a website in the way PPC can. And, within the B2B Tech and Financial niches, the results of PPC campaigns can provide a higher conversion rate than organic search, but that doesn’t mean SEO has no value in those industries. Indeed, a content-focused SEO strategy will contribute to building credibility and trust among a target audience, and raising brand awareness.

Looking more closely at the aims of each approach makes it easier to understand how, whatever sector your business, it pays to split your digital marketing budget to allow for both SEO and PPC until there is clear evidence to support one approach over the other. Here’s why…


Instant Gratification

PPC, especially using Google Ads, tends to be more expensive than SEO, but it can generate instant results in the form of more traffic to a website. Pay-per-click advertising also includes social media platforms and YouTube with their charge-per-view campaigns. PPC allows visitors to interact with your website and immediately be directed to where you want them. You can see their reaction more quickly when testing new wording or changing styles both on the Ads themselves and on landing pages. It can also give you an early insight into the value of your chosen keywords and search terms (or “intent words”) before using them in a content strategy.

However, relying on PPC alone is a risky strategy, especially with the growing use of ad-blockers, increasing scepticism of advertising as a hard sell and banner blindness becoming an ever-increasing problem. Yet it still has value if done correctly, and it can bring in valuable business while the SEO works in the background to build longer-term momentum. PPC specialists are often part of a larger team at a digital marketing agency but you can also find independent PPC professionals with the expertise needed to get the most from your budget on places like LinkedIn or Jooble.


Not a quick fix but an effective one

SEO, whilst increasing the quality of traffic to your site, does take time to build momentum. Longer-term SEO strategies in today’s digital landscape go beyond creating regular content to cover the topics your potential audience will be searching for. It needs to include optimisation of technical aspects of a website, high-quality backlinking, creating the best possible user experience that addresses the needs of your customers. This means ensuring your website and content are optimised across all platforms and that it provides relevant and helpful content for people at all stages of their buying journey.

With the right content, SEO is a highly effective way to build brand trust and awareness through organic searches. If you need to update content, create new content and update web pages to meet audience needs, this takes time and effort; but the benefits will, over time, compound to build a valuable content resource that will attract visitors long after you’ve forgotten how much time and effort was needed.

Competition is high, naturally, in the search results for almost every industry and in every locality for the most valuable keywords and search phrases. So, whilst small businesses could undertake an SEO campaign themselves – with the investment of significant time and effort –  an independent SEO consultancy such as Ditto Digital or a contractor SEO agency will already have the experience and expertise to build those longer-term advantages more efficiently.

SEO experts also have the experience and expertise to more effectively implement an SEO strategy, and will be familiar with the advanced techniques that are necessary to outperform competitors online. They also have the capability to analyse the raft of SEO data available in Google Analytics, Google Search Console and various SEO industry tools to fully understand how well an SEO strategy is working and where there are risks and opportunities.


How best to share your marketing spend between PPC and SEO

Statistics for most industries show SEO return on investment is better than PPC, with PPC providing initial support to funnel traffic more quickly to a website. That means splitting your marketing spend 50/50 probably won’t be the answer in the long-term but could be a good starting point.

You can also be guided by your industry as a whole until you have enough data for your business to understand accurately what will work for you. Measure the conversion rates from both channels and then adjust the budget to align costs to benefits. This is not a one-time task as conversion rates change over time due to both seasonal variations and changes in search trends. Be prepared to be flexible and adjust spending ratios if the analysis results change.


It’s clear that no matter what sector you operate in, there are benefits from both SEO and PPC. It’s just a matter of working out the split that yields the best results for your business