Most of the startups are torn between choosing SEO or PPC as their ideal online marketing strategy at some point. The objective is to achieve greater visibility and better conversions. In this article, we are going to discuss what should be the best approach for your business.

One of my friends started a digital marketing agency. He is an experienced SEO professional but was on a shoe-string budget at the time. Quite naturally, he was a bit confused while choosing between SEO and PPC as the right strategy for the promotion of his startup and sustainability of growth.

He wanted a strong presence on search engines, but on the other hand, he also didn’t want to wait for business leads. It was necessary for survival and to maintain cash flow. I advised him to use the right combination of both. So, how would we decide what the right combination is?

SEO is vital for a startup to establish authority, build an online reputation, increase organic reach and offer right solutions to its users. SEO also brings you backlinks and repeat visitors.

However, it’s a long-term activity and needs some time to show results. SEO is known to drive consistent and quality traffic. The downside of PPC is that people train themselves to ignore sponsored ads and paid adverts.

That’s the reason SEO is often perceived as a reliable strategy for digital marketing. Once you attain high rankings, it helps in building your brand. In fact, it may be your claim to fame. It also establishes trust factor.

When more and more people visit your website “naturally”, Google sees it as a sign of increasing reputation and trust. However, SEO doesn’t come to you free of cost. You need to allocate some budget to it. Through SEO, you get 8.5 clicks for every single click on a PPC advert, according to a Rand Fishkin article published on Moz. It proves once again that organic results are more likely to be clicked than paid results.

When you perform PPC, you invest heavily in gaining advertising space for certain specific keywords. However, even to succeed in that — you need some basic SEO to be performed on your website. Heat-maps help us understand the inclination of searchers. Heat-maps have shown that people are more likely to click organic results.

For many CEOs and digital marketing managers, to achieve ROI on your digital marketing spend paid advertising is a must. However, relying only on PPC can be a big folly. Search engines are committed to offering a great experience to searchers and not the advertisers.

Search engines show the results that offer a solution to the problem of the searchers. In case, your advert does not offer any visible solution to the query of your user, Google will stay away from showing your advert.

Why would they give the highest bidder a chance at the cost of their user-experience? That’s the reason Google reigns the world of searches.

As far as the conversion rate is concerned, PPC outweighs organic searches by 1.5 times. However, as far as opportunity is concerned, organic searches offer you 5.66 times more opportunities as compared to paid searches, according to Moz.

You can also advertise on a website, which is frequently visited by your target audiences and gain some traction from there. PPC offers speed and quick results, but it is expensive in nature. As far as the ultimate objective of both the strategies is concerned, it is to be on the first page of Google.

PPC is capable of instantly boosting the traffic on your website and earning qualified leads, but you need training in Google AdWords to implement that. You also need some training in Google Analytics. As rankings constantly fluctuate on search engines, you should consistently try to improve your SEO. It will also improve your paid campaigns.

So, a combination is going to work as far as a holistic digital marketing strategy is concerned.

Let’s discuss industry scenario now. SEO is said to have a great impact on brand building and traffic. However, it is surprising to know that only 11% search engine dollars are spent on SEO, whereas the market is overwhelmingly tilted towards PPC with 87% of search engine revenue going to PPC campaigns.

Businesses spend around $10 billion on PPC, while only $1 billion media spend goes to SEO, according to New Media Campaigns. Let’s not forget that SEO is 5 times more effective than PPC but still it receives a fraction of marketing spend.

Going by common logic, it’s difficult to justify the use of PPC as against SEO in the light of these stats. I think the desire to achieve quick results and pressure to justify ROI in the short term might be behind these irrational practices.

David Edward Carey, a Digital Marketing Manager at Interlink Software, UK, shares his story on Moz. He says he couldn’t recall ever clicking on sponsored links appearing on search results pages as a searcher. Once he spent $25k/month on PPC campaigns, but soon he started diverting most of these funds to SEO. He says it gave him immense pleasure when he struck a $20K deal with a lead, which has a very low cost of generation. It was all a result of a well-planned organic search strategy. It allows you to acquire pre-qualified leads without requiring you to cut into your marketing budget.

Startups are often in a hurry to build brand awareness. Sometimes, they use paid campaigns for limited time period and sometimes it happens on some special event. It is also said to be more effective for product-based businesses.

However, a long-term value can only be achieved by search engine optimization. There is no denying the fact that SEO is quite affordable, but overnight results can’t be expected from it. So, you can focus your efforts on keywords related to the services you offer. If you are promoting a product, a small budget on PPC is worth consideration.

Overall 80% of your marketing budget should go to SEO, which is good for quality traffic, brand awareness, and cost sustainability. It also offers a better return on investment and a low cost-per-click. It will lead you to achieve improved CTR and more overall clicks.

Paid advertising has laser targeted visibility and it brings noticeable traffic. It can, therefore, be used for a limited time period.

However, using both of these strategies in combination will yield better results. Keyword and conversion data acquired through paid search campaigns can be used for organic search campaigns. You can target high performing keywords through organic search campaigns and this way you will achieve increased traffic to your site. Applying a brake on your ad spend on high performing keywords will save you a lot of advertising dollars.

Similarly, high cost, high volume, and low conversion keywords can be shifted to organic campaigns. When you implement PPC, you apply a/b testing to your ad copy. You can use these insights to drive more traffic and attract more clicks to your landing pages.

Remarketing can be done for a high traffic landing page amplifying the overall results. Target commercial keywords used at different stages of a customer journey. Using the ideal mix of both the strategies will increase your confidence at the end of the day and you will be able to achieve greater visibility in both organic and paid campaigns.