Reaching the right audience for your startup or small business is not an easy task. And it doesn’t matter how great your business is, or how much it will help your future clients if prospects can’t find you.

Nowadays, when someone needs a new idea, a data point, to solve a problem, research a new business tool, etc., they turn to Google. In fact, more than 70% of B2B researchers begin their research with generic Google searches.

The reality is that without some presence on Google, it’s possible your business won’t survive very long. To solve this problem, organizations often turn to two search strategies – search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC).

Over the course of our 15 years in business, we have had more and more clients ask us for advice on SEO and PPC strategies as marketing and communications became integrated. Now, we’re advising clients, almost daily, on SEO and PPC best practices. And the first conversation always centers around the difference between the two strategies.

So, that is what we’re exploring in this blog – SEO vs. PPC. Because there is so much to learn about these strategies, we’re even including some of our favorite resources and training.

To start, let’s define SEO and PPC.

  • By definition, SEO is the practice of “increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” It’s important to note that search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites and it even beats social media by more than 300%.
  • Pay-per-click, on the other hand, is a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. In a way, you’re buying visits to your site rather than earning those visits organically. Paid ads can increase brand awareness by 80%.

The basics of an SEO strategy

Search engines have a single goal – to provide users with the most relevant answers or information. In order to do this, search engines, like Google, analyze:

  1. How relevant content on a page is to the search query
  2. How much authority the website has on the Internet

When you invest in SEO, you’re working through a strategy to improve ranking factors in order to increase the likelihood of your target audience finding you when they search for things related to your product or service.

In order to implement an SEO strategy, you need to build a Google presence. A few key ways to do this include:

  • Building up the content on your site through blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, etc.
  • Optimizing your website for keywords you want to rank
  • Make sure your name, address and phone number are published

To optimize a site for SEO, you need to improve ranking factors in three key areas.

  1. Technical setup / on-site optimization: This ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems. Factors that can affect your technical setup include website navigation, URL structure, duplicate content and more.
  2. Content: Whether it’s a blog post, landing page, ebook, white paper or video, content is what users are looking for when they use a search engine and it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.
  3. Links: While technical setup and content help increase relevancy, links and backlinks are what helps improve authority. Backlinks are references to your content on other websites. For example, if your CEO published an article on and the article mentions, and links, to your company page, that’s a backlink. Search engines use the quantity and quality of links as a signal of a website’s authority.

By actively positioning your content in search results, you can bring in more visitors, and in turn, conversions and sales.

The basics of a PPC strategy

Keywords are extremely competitive, which makes it difficult for a business that doesn’t have the domain authority to get in the top rankings on a search engine. Nowadays, so many businesses are using ads that organic results might not even start until further down the page.

However, this does not mean you should ignore SEO efforts – your PPC strategy should complement your SEO strategy.

Like most things, there are a variety of PPC platforms you can advertise on including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, AdRoll and more. The best way to choose which platform to use is to take a look at your potential ROI on each platform. You should also consider:

  1. The availability of keyword terms
  2. Where your target audience is spending their time
  3. Your advertising budget

Once you know what platform(s) you want to use, you’ll need to work through the following items to ensure that you’re creating an effective campaign:

  • Set parameters and put your ad campaigns into the context of your ultimate business goals
  • Set campaign goals such as increased brand awareness, lead generation, site traffic, etc.
  • Select your campaign type(s) such as search ads, display ads, social ads or remarketing ads
  • Research your keywords and select those that are closely aligned with the specific theme of your ad groups
  • Make sure Google Analytics and tracking are set up in order to receive insights into how your website is performing, how users are interacting with your pages and what content and ads are attractive to visitors

PPC strategies have a lot of components and options. It’s a process to determine the most effective way to reach your company’s goals, which is why it’s considered a long term strategy. It can take anywhere from 3 – 6 months to see strong results. All that said, a PPC strategy is an extremely effective tool for inbound marketing.

SEO and PPC resources & training

This blog post is just a starting point for gathering a basic understanding of SEO and PPC strategies. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot of great resources out there. Here are some of our favorites.