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With so much potential traffic available for free through Google, you may find yourself wondering what the purpose of Pay Per Click (PPC) is or when you should be using it. The answer is a complicated one but always starts with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). The truth is that you should always be carrying out SEO if you want long-term results that will guarantee a continuous stream of traffic to your site. It’s also true that PPC is a great sidekick to SEO, especially if you’re just starting your online business, though it definitely shouldn’t be treated as an alternative.

To do both SEO and PPC properly, you’ll need to invest in either educating yourself or in hiring the right people for the job. Recent statistics show that nearly 50% of all marketing budgets are funnelled into search, with 31% going towards paid search and 18% on SEO. This should show that if you’re not investing in these things then you should consider allocating some of your budget to them.

When done correctly, SEO and PPC can provide a great return on investment, but there are distinct differences in the way each one will benefit your business. We’ve boiled down these differences below, to show you why SEO vs PPC isn’t a black and white issue and to help you to decide when you need to take advantage of PPC.

SEO vs PPC: what’s the difference?

Organic search results are the results that appear when you search for something in Google. Even if your site isn’t well optimised for organic search results, if Google is indexing it then it will appear somewhere in the listings (even if it’s on page 50). It will stay there for as long as your site is active (and if your site is optimised properly then it can also hold a high ranking position for this long as well).

Search network Pay per click results for websites appear at the top or bottom of search engine results pages (SERPs) and can be identified by the “ad” sign. These ads only last for as long as they’re being paid for.  While organic results can be free, in order to ensure you get those results for competitive search terms, you need to invest a lot of time educating yourself, or money in hiring a professional to do the job right for you. If your SEO is done right to get you the organic results you want this will ensure a steady stream of visitors for the foreseeable future.

SEO is an essential part of marketing a website and provides a solid foundation for building a successful online business. And, whether you hire a professional or not, it’s a part of the process of building a business that requires patience. New SEO or changes to existing optimisation can take months to take root and the only shortcut to getting it done as quickly as possible is doing it right – and even then it all comes down to Google for how long it will take to boost the rankings for your chosen search terms.

Why PPC isn’t a shortcut to success

If done correctly, PPC may yield instant results, but those results will only last as long as you leave your campaign running. This kind of traffic is useful for many reasons – for example, if you’re running a special promotion that’s time sensitive, trying to target a specific audience, or if you’re trying to reach a new one.

So the results for PPC are instant, which is good, but they’re also not sustainable beyond your budget. Once your budget runs out, or you decide to end your campaign, the traffic disappears. Your site’s visibility (unless you’ve also taken care of your SEO) will vanish for selected keywords and will only be found wherever it sits in Google’s organic rankings.

You also need to take into account the fact that while it’s not sustainable your website still needs to be optimised for search in order to get the best results, and it still needs to offer something of value and quality to your potential visitors in order to win Google’s bidding war for key search terms. Along with other factors, Google takes user experience into account when deciding how high to place your ads in the SERPs: put simply, the better designed for users your site is, the less you’ll pay per click: it’s well worth investing the effort in making sure all your content is up to scratch. Creating a strong landing page for a PPC campaign will yield organic SEO results for you down the line as well!

When to use PPC

PPC can be a powerful and (done correctly) cost-effective way to boost sales or traffic to your site, especially for keywords you are not ranking organically for.  If you’re running an offer and need a quick result for a short period of time, PPC can also be a useful option. The time not to use PPC is when you’re reaching for a quick solution to a problem that needs to be fixed through quality SEO work. PPC should be used parallel to SEO, or it could be used to tide you over until your initial SEO takes root. However with this second option, PPC could easily become a crutch if your SEO efforts are going to waste.


If you’re still not sure when or how you should be using PPC, or want help to get started, get in touch with Vu. Our experts can help you to get the results you want and determine the best strategies and services for your business.

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