Renting Versus Owning – How PPC and SEO Differ in Helping to Gain Online Authority

When trying to create a digital marketing strategy, many people ask: how do I allocate a budget between pay per click or search engine optimization? Both PPC and SEO are crucial to a successful digital marketing strategy, but how each is used either individually or in tandem is constantly up for debate.  The decision typically comes down to two things: is it better to use PPC to buy your way to the top of search results, or should the dollars go toward an organic SEO strategy?

One of the best ways to view this dilemma relates back to another prominent life decision: to rent or to own? The decision of how or when to utilize SEO or PPC is similar to the conversation many have about renting or owning a property. The factors that fall into this decision can be varied depending on the industry, but some of the main components to the digital strategy that a business may use are their budget, their current performance, and the goals of their campaign.

SEO and PPC each have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on how they are utilized within a digital strategy. Below, we dive into the analogy of renting versus owning when it comes to PPC and SEO and how to gain online authority.

PPC – The Renting of Lead Generation

Pay per click, also known as PPC, is a marketing tool used to advertise on search engines like Google. When using PPC, a person must bid to have their ads appear at the top of the search results page (SERP).

For example, if a cupcake bakery in Washington DC is utilizing PPC in their digital strategy, they would pay to have their ad display when someone searches using keywords such as ‘DC cupcake’ or ‘bakery in DC’.

This strategy is called pay per click because you have to pay for every user who clicks on your ad. If no one clicks on it, then you don’t pay. However, it is equally as possible with expensive keywords that you reach your budget in minutes or hours after pushing the ad live.

This strategy revolves around buying visits to your site instead of earning them organically. The reason this is referred to as the renting of lead generation is because it is a short-term solution to ranking well on a search engine. PPC has a higher cost per lead than SEO, but can be a quicker and easier method of increasing site traffic.

Although it can be relatively simple to initiate a PPC campaign, there needs to be real data behind the campaign. Collecting data on user behavior in your area, monitoring the campaign over time, and adjusting your strategy accordingly can take time. So, while it may seem like you can set the campaign up in a few minutes, it may take much longer to create a functional and worthwhile PPC campaign.

Generally, PPC is seen as a rented resource because the spots that a person pays for from search engines like Google or Bing are rented, not owned. Once a person stops bidding for that spot with their PPC campaign, they no longer rank there, and the search engine gives it to the next buyer.

SEO – The Ownership of Lead Generation

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing a website and its content to obtain user traffic from organic search results. Instead of a quick buy solution, SEO requires informed techniques to propel a website on to the first page of the SERP. While there are a variety of search engines, Google is by far the largest, which tends to skew SEO practices toward appealing to Google-specific requirements.

SEO should be included in a digital strategy if a business is playing the long game. SEO is perfect for those who want consistent results, sustained traffic, and are willing to wait. Effective SEO strategies require a combination of website design, authoritative linking, and original content generation. It takes a tremendous amount of work to create, cultivate, and maintain SEO changes on a website, which can require a great deal of time and money.

The reason SEO is seen as the owning of lead generation is because the money you put into your optimization strategies may allow you to have a more permanent place as a higher-ranking site on the SERP. SEO is not reliant on ad placement for temporary success, but it does rely upon consistent work. It is a slow build, but Google or other search engines cannot remove your site from a certain ranking unless you put practices in place that violate their rules. Like owning, it can be more costly in the beginning compared to renting your space at the top of the SERP, but it is better in the long-term for site authority.

How to Determine What Works for Your Business

There are many factors to weigh before utilizing SEO or PPC in a digital marketing strategy. The purpose of the strategy, how long it needs to last, and the budget available are just a few of the items that should be considered when deciding how to use SEO or PPC.

While PPC may result in more site traffic quickly, it’s not as long-lasting. SEO may take more time, but it can more permanent placement on the SERP. If you are still wondering which path could be the best one for you, we have compiled the best situations to utilize each:

When to use PPC:

  • When you want immediate results
  • When the keyword category is highly targeted
  • If your campaign is time-sensitive
  • If your website isn’t geared or designed for SEO

When to use SEO:

  • When you want consistent results
  • When you want to build an authoritative site
  • If you want to increase the value of your website
  • If you want to improve organically

Determining how to use PPC and SEO is subjective to a strategy’s desires and timeline. For some, renting the space at the top of the results page is going to be more worthwhile than owning the authority for that search query. There are also many instances where a strategy could combine SEO and PPC tactics to increase site authority and traffic.

Regardless of how you end up utilizing either strategy, it is important that you understand which path of lead generation will work best for you. The inevitable strategy you chose depends upon your business’s needs, budget, and mission. Therefore, understanding the basics of SEO and PPC can better aid you in stronger lead generation. For help determining whether renting or owning is right for you, contact our experienced digital marketing specialists.