The importance of search engine marketing is always increasing. It’s been discovered that people are much more likely to visit a website via a search engine rather than typing in a URL directly. Because of this, businesses really can’t afford to dismiss SEM (search engine marketing) as part of their digital marketing strategy.

But should SEM spend be allocated to Pay Per Click advertising or Search Engine Optimisation?

It depends. Several factors should be considered such as budget, the pressure to get quick results, and the overall objective. Let’s explore some of these factors.

Are you under pressure to get people visiting a new website, and fast?

A brand new domain takes time to rank organically (ranking well organically is SEO’s primary objective). Once a site has been indexed (meaning that is can be seen in search engine results pages – or SERPs) it’s certainly not guaranteed to appear in Google’s top ten results for your desired keywords. Ranking well organically takes time and effort because great SEO demands unique content, a seamless user experience, well-written meta data and much more…

So if there’s just not the time to invest in all of the above, and it’s imperative that people are visiting your website immediately, PPC is potentially the avenue to consider. With well-written ads, an engaging landing page and the right bidding strategy, relevant traffic can be obtained in a relatively small time frame when compared to SEO strategies. And any ROI can be reported on effectively.

But is your budget limited?

While it can be great in terms of generating traffic, to keep getting those clicks, a PPC campaign needs a continuous stream of funding. If this is just not going to happen, investing time into developing an effective SEO strategy (or paying someone else to do it!) should be considered.

The benefits of SEO have much more longevity than the immediate benefits of PPC. A great piece of content, written for a specific audience, with authoritative and easily digestible information, can contribute towards keyword rankings for a relatively long time. SEO isn’t just about ranking in SERPs – it’s also about becoming the online voice of authority in your industry. If you can do this, you will see the SEO benefits that come with it.

The right choice between SEO and PPC is different for each campaign, business and website (the right choice might even be a combination of both). But the key takeaways here are:

  • If you need people on your site, and fast, choose PPC. But make sure your ads are engaging and you have a great landing page.
  • If you want results with longevity (and you’re prepared to wait for these) choose SEO. But make sure that you’re prepared to generate great content.

There’s some great information in the following articles about choosing between PPC and SEO:

SEO vs. PPC – The Showdown

SEO vs. PPC – Which Provides You the Better Value?

Written by Jade Larkin, Copywriting and SEO Assistant at ExtraMile Communications

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people’s creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member’s take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.