Business owners looking for success in this digital age know that their business needs to be easily found online. If you’re looking to dominate your local, national or global market, it’s time you look into a digital marketing strategy.

Today we’ll be looking at two of the most popular digital marketing strategies, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, while examining which tactic your business should use based on the time your business has to drive results and the competition in your industry!

How Much Time Do You Have?

First, ask yourself how quickly your business needs results. Does your business need leads now, or can you give the time necessary to ensure you continuously get leads in the future?

If you have time to build leads and invest in the future…

SEO takes months, maybe years, to show results. The higher your business can rank for relevant keywords, the more traffic & leads you can pull from the organic search results. However, building up backlinks, increasing domain authority and consistently creating quality content doesn’t happen overnight. SEO is also unpredictable with a changing landscape of search engine algorithms. So you may put effort into one SEO tactic that works now, but that same tactic may not work next year.

While the timeliness and the unpredictability of SEO may increase the time it takes to see a return on investment, SEO is looking out for the future of your business. According to BrightEdge data, organic search was the largest driver of traffic to websites across sectors studied, and the largest driver of revenue – even over paid search – in most sectors studied (see graph below).

This means that if you have the time to boost your keyword rankings to #1 organically, you would get more traffic and more revenue than you would with a paid search campaign. Plus you have more credibility with searchers because your business appears naturally in the search results instead of you paying for it to be there.


If you need leads quickly…

PPC takes hours or days to show results. Once you create your AdWords campaign and set your budget, you can flip the switch on. If your campaign is setup correctly, your ads will appear in the top four ad slots on Google! As a result, when potential customers are searching for the keywords in your ad campaign, they’ll be able to see your business at the top of the search results.

With data on your competitors’ paid search campaigns and metrics available for keyword analysis, you can make intelligent decisions on when & where to advertise. Once your PPC campaign is running, this same data also allows you to pinpoint underperforming ads, costly keywords and poor conversion rates so that you can make immediate adjustments.

PPC also takes less time to show a return on investment if your sales cycle is short. Because you can utilize landing pages, forms and targeted information to convert traffic to sales, the ROI of PPC can be almost immediate. However, you have to keep in mind that you’re only capturing about 10% of the traffic with paid search and if you stop feeding your PPC campaign money, then it stops working.

Do You Have Competition in the Search Results?

Next, google some of the keywords that you want your business to rank for. Who is above you? Think of your competitors. Who is writing quality content? Who is getting backlinks?

If your industry has low competition in the search results…

To get to the top of Google organically, your business needs to show that you’re the best in your industry through referring domains, thought leadership and quality content. If your competitors that outrank you on Google are not writing quality content or building a backlink profile, that means competition is low and you need to do SEO.

By using AHREFs or other competitive analysis tools, like a domain authority checker, you’ll be able to get a glimpse at what it takes to get a #1 ranking. If you’re ranked #2 with 100 backlinks and the #1 business has 100 backlinks, a little SEO strategy can boost your business to #1. Also having low competition enables you to be the first to write content on what your potential customers are searching for, which can help your long-tail keyword rankings.

Lastly, once your business reaches the top of the Google organic search results, it becomes more difficult for your rankings to drop. It takes less time and effort to maintain a #1 spot in Google than it does to try and overcome whoever is in the #1 spot, meaning your competitors can’t blind side you as they could with PPC.

Using AHREFs to compare a small lending business with the top competitor in their industry, it would take a huge effort in increasing backlinks, referring domains and domain authority to have a chance at beating their rankings.

If your industry has high competition in the search results…

If your target keywords are dominated by authority sites, those website can be almost impossible to outrank without a huge time and money investment. Therefore, it might make sense to pay for traffic with PPC.

The big benefit of using PPC in a competitive industry is that it allows your business to appear at the top of Google without taking the time to boost your business’ organic listings. Also since PPC is a live auctioning process, you can advertise alongside your competitors and appear before the organic search results like they do. Remember, with PPC if you’re bidding higher than your competitors are, with higher quality scores, you can even appear above them!

You can also spy on what your competitors are doing in terms of PPC and tailor your campaign around what is working best for them. Plus you can use the display network to advertise on other sites that your potential customer may be browsing!

Do You Have Competition in Paying for Ad Clicks?

Lastly, enter your target keywords into Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. How high is the estimated competition level? How expensive is the cost-per-click?

If your industry has low cost-per-click…

When competition is low in a specific industry, most business owners opt for the long-term results of SEO. However, if authority sites are above you in the organic listings and your industry keywords have a low cost-per-click, then paying for PPC traffic may be more lucrative than launching a huge SEO campaign.

With a low cost-per-click, you won’t be paying as much per lead so your cost-per-acquisition should be low!

If your industry has high cost-per-click…

Think of how much a lead is worth to you and weigh this against the cost-per-click. If the cost-per-click is high and a lead is worth a high amount, then it may make sense to run PPC ads. However, if the cost-per-click is high and your leads are not worth a high amount, then it may be difficult for new advertisers to generate a profit from PPC. Therefore, if you see that PPC is going to be a large investment, it might be worth it to invest that same money into SEO efforts.

So Is SEO or PPC Right for Your Business?

Overall, PPC and SEO have different effects and returns for businesses. If you are looking for quick results and don’t have the resources for a long-term campaign, consider PPC as your option. If you are a business that hopes to be growing for a long time, SEO may be a better choice. Honestly, sometimes a mix of the two is the best option!

Whatever you decide, make sure to ask yourself these three questions and consider using an expert to help you carry out your marketing plans and evaluate your strategy.

If you’re looking to use SEO, download our FREE eBook “How to Use SEO to Boost Your Inbound Marketing Results” to see how search engine optimization tactics can increase the number of leads your business brings in:

This article originally appeared on the Leap Clixx Blog and has been republished with permission.