Every marketer has asked themselves the SEO vs PPC question—which is better for e-commerce? Of course, there's a general answer, but it really depends on one’s industry and objectives.
PPC is a great way to generate immediate traffic and boost sales. A marketer shouldn’t doubt the potential of Pay-per-click (PPC). But the return on investment that it delivers has a shorter life span, unlike quality SEO. Suppose you spend $5,000 per month. Once your ads are live and the money is paid to Google, that budget is gone. But let’s say that you get loyal customers, subscribers, and gave your brand a much-needed exposure. It's worth the one-time expense, no? Here's the catch. You will need the same budget next month to attract more customers. That value that you get from this expense is limited.
However, if you would have invested that same amount of money in search engine optimization and content marketing, you would have earned something valuable. You may have optimized the category pages, created quality content for the target audience, and attracted backlinks from influential bloggers relevant to your niche. The result would have been astounding as well—you could have improved your rankings, applied a similar strategy next month, and created quality content to send the same message to your audience.
Curious on how to combine these two approaches for the best strategy possible? Here are the ups and downs of both PPC and SEO.
Diving Deeper: SEO vs. PPC
SEO and PPC have two key differences. The first is that paid advertisement displays on the top of the organic SEO results. The traffic that you get from organic SEO comes free of cost, while every click from PPC costs you. Both methods can work together if you implement each one of them with a robust strategy.
Search engine optimization — focused on organic traffic
Let’s see what SEO does for your e-commerce brand.
Creates awareness: Being visible in the search engine through utilizing your targeted keywords aligns your brand with your potential buyers. It works the same way as an advertisement and creates brand awareness.
Solidifies branding: Getting exposure through exploiting commercial search queries relevant to your location can put a positive impact on your branding. Searchers can identify with your brand and build trust. For a given topic, your brand can become an authoritative voice with organic search results via SEO. The same goes for logo ideas. Your brand logo appearing higher in ranking makes it easier for people on the search engine to recall your brand.
Builds credibility: Appearing in organic results can build credibility with people looking for your products or services. There are many users, who instead of trusting a paid ad, trust organic search results. If you appear in top searches, you get a stamp of credibility. Having good reviews can help with this.
Increased traffic: With increased traffic comes more opportunities to boost awareness with regard to your business.
CPC (Cost-per-click): Again, the traffic you get from organic search results costs you nothing as it’s free. However, developing such visibility for brand will take time and effort. But this way you won’t be charged a single buck for an impression or click.
Improved CTR: More than 1 billion people search on Google every month. There is a higher percentage of people clicking on the results brought about by organic search. There are exceptions out there, but generally, you can attract more clicks if your brand appears on the top results than you would from a paid ad.
Strategic advantage: Appearing on the top of result pages and getting visibility in organic SEO isn't a cup of tea. This is what makes it a bad and a good thing at the same time. But once you have positioned your brand in the top ranking, your competitors cannot do the same using paid ads. So, it gives you a strategic advantage over your competitors who trust paid search.
SEO definitely has some cons, but it also has high pay off. There are certainly many cases of organic traffic being slow. Relying on SEO alone will drive any e-commerce business owner who needs quick sales, quick traffic, and quick brand building crazy. If you’re a startup and the keywords that you are focusing on show results by industry giants such as Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba, you need an entire strategy overhaul.
If you're planning to revamp your SEO strategy, you should also focus on creating quality content for strong organic exposure. Not all e-commerce businesses have a dedicated in-house team to take on content development, which presents an issue.
Pay-per-Click — Paid visibility
Top of the page: Paid search results appear on the top of the traditional result pages. The ad results get 65% of clicks as compared to the organic results if they includes buying keywords.
Improved advertising: PPC ads are purely advertisements. They give you more control over your marketing message. Consider calls, site links, locations, bullets and price points to create dominating ads.
Visual product advertisement: When you want to sell a product, Google can create product listing ads. Such ads boost click-through rates using a feature which you won't find in organic search. You can add your product along with your company’s logo.
Brand visibility: Paid ads help you get noticed by a more targeted audience. Even if your audience doesn't click on your ads and do brand research, this will help your marketing efforts.
Budget: PPC is all about the budget, which you need to keep tight. Decide how much you would like to spend every day on ads and set a limit.
Laser targeting: Pay Per Click offers a laser-targeted approach to appear in front of potential buyers. You can target the ads using time of the day, search keywords, language, weekday, device, geography, and customers based on earlier visits.
Speed: This goes without saying that PPC is speedier than organic search, which takes time to generate visibility. With PPC, you can create campaigns in days and go up in weeks.
Agility: Speed adds to agility. If you want to test a new product or pitch a new marketing message, run a short PPC ad campaign.
Marketing insights: Paid search doesn’t come with restrictions on the name of privacy. Organic search restricts access to keyword data. You can use Google Analytics to analyze which keywords convert and what’s their percentage and cost. You can feed this insight directly into your organic search marketing and improve results.
A/B testing: PPC lets you split-test your ads, landing pages, and CTAs. You can gather insights from these results and feed them into your digital marketing efforts.
All in all, a well-set PPC account is easy to manage. It’s a low-cost way for lead generation. If your e-commerce business is about targeting a small geographic area with a small set of keywords, PPC helps you create more leads within your budget. Furthermore, you can optimize your accounts to curb costs and boost return.
But in some scenarios, PPC can cost you a lot of money. If you target the entire country or run international campaigns, the cost will shoot up.