Search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) are both great ways of attracting new customers to a business, but which is the best use of your marketing budget?

Online marketers commonly disregard pay per click advertising as a quick win but hold SEO up as an investment in the future. And although that’s true for the most part, there are certainly times where that’s not the case.

In this article, we are going to be discussing whether or not you should be investing your marketing budget in SEO or PPC.

Pay Per Click Is “Dead Money”

Some business owners look at running Google ads the same way homeowners look at renting a home.

Paying for every click means you are technically renting the top spot until you run out of money. 

However, that top spot can be incredibly profitable if you’ve done keyword research accurately. And as long as you’re getting a positive ROAS, Google Ads is a great way to market a business.

SEO Is An Investment, So It Might Not Pay Off

SEO is no different from investing in anything else, it may or may not pay off. This deters many smaller businesses (and rightly so) who have a very tight marketing budget.

There are no guarantees when it comes to search engine optimisation and the search engines frown heavily on most SEO tactics such as link building. 

And because there are more small business owners looking for SEO services than there are large, many web design companies will offer cheap SEO as another way to make some extra money, without delivering any real results for their clients.

This gives the service a bad name and unfortunately means most companies who pay for it will not be using an SEO professional. 

But if you do manage to find an SEO company that can deliver the goods, getting all that free traffic long term can seriously change the future of your business.

They Both Have Their Downsides, What About Price?

The price of SEO Vs PPC can be misleading on the surface, as PPC will initially look far more expensive, but stick with me.

On average, you can expect to pay between 50p – £2.50 per click with Google Ads (depending on the competition). This can quickly add up if you’re needing to get a few hundred visitors to your site every month. 

Most UK clients will have a budget between £500 – £1000 per month they can invest in Google Ads and the cost is offset by the quality of traffic.

It’s also worth pointing out that to get anything from your advertising budget, you’ll need to have a qualified Google Ads account manager optimising them on a monthly basis. This can cost you anywhere from £500 – £1000 per day. Don’t think an AdWords express account is going to achieve what you’re looking for (because it won’t)!

On the overhand, the cost of SEO can range anywhere from £1200 to £9000, making it cost slightly more than PPC, however it will scale consistently over time, which you won’t get with advertising on Bing or Google. 

There are some companies who will offer SEO services for as little as just £100, but these should be avoided 99% of the time.

For the most part, SEO scales with time and PPC scales with a budget increase.

SEO or PPC For Leads/Sales

We’ve all heard the statistics as to how much higher the conversion rate is for organic listings vs pay per click ads, as the general public typically trust Google’s natural results over adverts.

But one of the less commonly spoken about advantages of PPC ads is that you can send traffic who search for a certain keyword to a page that couldn’t naturally rank for it, due to searchers intent.

This allows you to change perceptions, steal branded traffic and send customers directly to the page they are most likely to convert on.

Both SEO and PPC are great for getting leads, if you’re using a professional PPC advertiser or SEO professional.

SEO Is More Suited To Larger Companies?

Companies who do not have the budget to invest in SEO would be far better off paying for Google ads for a variety of reasons. These reasons include avoiding black hat tactics and actually getting results from your marketing budget.

Any pay per click advertiser worth their salt can get leads with a good budget, but even the best SEO’s can’t guarantee ranking pages for difficult keywords unless you are an established brand.

This is why SEO is usually better for medium to large-sized companies and not usually ideal for smaller businesses long term unless there are a considerable amount of local search terms with low keyword difficulty.

The Bottom Line 

Whether you go down the route of pay per click advertising on Google and Bing ads, or you use an SEO expert, always make sure you do your research prior to signing any contracts.

A good SEO company should be able to present you with evidence of rankings and a good pay-per-click advertiser should be able to show you an example campaign he has run successfully.

Don’t simply find the cheapest service and expect it to work; always look into the company’s reputation when choosing digital marketing services.