Organic SEO vs. Paid Ads: What Should Brands Spend More On?
You have a great new product and are excited to share it with the denizens of the World Wide Web.
11:03 29 December 2021
but how do you spread the word and get your product in front of potential customers in a seemingly endless flood of content?
Luckily, there is more than one way to make your product discoverable. Today, we will be looking at the two most popular options as explained by industry leaders who have been there before and used both.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. “It boils down to the process of boosting the visibility of your website by helping it rank higher on search engines,” says Brandon Sunny, CEO of Royal Moon. “If done well, good SEO will increase the chances of your target demo finding you when they search something related to your business online.
Since Google holds the highest percentage of internet search engine traffic, most SEO marketing will focus on making your product or service appear higher on its results.
Pros of SEO
SEO is the cheaper option for those looking to build their brand’s online visibility. “It’s a nice one and done type deal,” says Roman Taranov, CEO of Able. “You can create your own SEO using blogs, or recruit agencies to use other tactics. Once you make the first payment you don’t have to keep spending money to make sure the content is seen. And the best part is you don’t have to pay per click.”
Organic traffic using SEO methods is great for those who don’t want to spend too much money. Upfront costs can be higher if you decide to go through third parties, but even with those considered, costs are still lower compared to paid ads.
“One of my favorite things about SEO is that it is always on. You can set it and forget it,” says Joshua Chin, CEO of Chronos. “You don’t need to keep spending as you do with ads to keep them running. Once you rank on Google, you can keep gathering clicks. Just update your older posts or keep them evergreen and you are good to go” he finished.
Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings added, “Good SEO work only gets better over time. It’s only search engine tricks that need to keep changing when the ranking algorithms change.” This is why it pays to stay ahead of these changes by consistently updating content.
As with any business decision, the return on investment has to be a part of the discussion. Luckily, the ROI on SEO is very impressive and most marketers agree that a well-rounded SEO strategy will have a positive impact on your business overall.
“If it is the ROI you are looking for, look no further,” says Christopher Ager, Co-Founder of HomeBreeze. He went on to say that his business saw increases in year-over-year traffic increase. “As some others mentioned, SEO is a long-term game. Some of our content gets clicks a year after being posted. That’s fantastic ROI on something we invested in that long ago.”
It Works Well for Your Sales Funnel
“SEO works well for customers at every stage in your sales funnel. Whether they are just stumbling upon your product or are about to convert, there is SEO for each of them,” says Stephanie Venn-Watson, CEO of Seraphina Therapeutics.
“Some customers stumble upon a blog post and show interest, while others are almost ready to go but want to read another guide or case study to see if it really is going to be right for them. With SEO, we have all of those resources working at different stages to help us close business,” she finished.
Lastly, our respondents agreed that the more your content appears on search engines, the more trust your brand will have in potential customers. If your content is good, Google will even start to pull answers found on your website into its results.
“The only way to differentiate is to put out even higher quality content than the rest,” explained Noah Kagan, CEO of Okdork. The higher the quality, the more chance it will break through the noise.
What is Paid Search
Paid ads, or pay-per-click, are ads that your company can place at the top of a Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). They are a common form of search engine marketing (SEM). The advertiser pays the search engines (including websites like Facebook) every time a person clicks an ad on the publisher’s site. Advertisers will sometimes also bid on relevant keywords in their target market to increase clicks and gain an advantage.
You have likely seen these in play when you search for something on Google and see the word “Ad” next to the first few results that load. The cost of this type of advertising is largely dependent on the industry you are in and the quantity of the keywords you decide on.
Pros of Paid Search
Results are Instant
One of the benefits of deciding to use PPC advertising is that the turnaround time as far as results go is much quicker than the long game many people find themselves playing when using SEO. Miles Beckett, CEO & Co-Founder of Flossy, says, “It can take as little as a few minutes to see results from PPC. SEO can take months and months.”
He added, “The approval process is quick, too, and you get max presence from the ads. That means results that you don’t have to wait for. It’s been great when we needed to move products quickly and even better when we first started out and needed to build a customer base.”
The Data is Clear and Tangible
Paid advertising online allows you to see important data about the people who interact with your ads including their age, location, what keywords they searched, and other helpful insights that can influence further business and marketing decisions.
“If I want to understand more about my customers, I use paid search. It can be helpful to know people’s geographical area and their interest level when I am making advertising campaign choices,” says Daniel Tejada, Co-Founder of Straight Up Growth. “I can also run an A/B test on a paid ad to find out what is working.”
Tejada is referring to the ability users have to run two paid ads at the same time and see which is working better. You can then use that information to make a decision on what ad to keep.
SEO is the only method that has a clear return on investment. Paid ads on Google have an average ROI of 200% which is pretty impressive. Sure, it’s not guaranteed, but nothing really is. Plus, with the data you gain from a paid ad, you can make adjustments on future ones to pinpoint what works for your business.
“Paid ads are more expensive, sure, but I like that the ROI is clear to me right away,” states Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ. “I get a clean and easy-to-understand picture of each campaign’s benefits. SEO can sometimes feel like I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.”
Buyers Are Ready
“Conversion rates are quicker with people who come into our sales pipeline via paid ads. The nature of paid ads is transactional. People click on them because they are interested in making a purchase relatively soon and are looking for solutions,” according to Rob Bartlett, CEO of WTFast.
Generally speaking, this is true. You can target your ads directly towards people who are close to making a purchase so that when they click on your ad you know it is with the intent of making a purchase, not just learning something like they might be when they click on an SEO blog.
They Can Accommodate Your Budget
“Digital advertising allows users to be flexible with their ad budgets allowing users to set custom budgets across different channels,” says Ely Khakshouri, CEO at Retrospec. “You can select a custom budget month after month on Facebook and Google; you don’t have to pay a flat rate. The results will of course be different if you spend less, but I like having the freedom to choose.”
Always check to see what the industry averages are before making your spending decision and starting your campaign.
So, what does all of this mean? What one should you spend more on?
Well, it’s just one of those things where the answer is a little bit of both.
What you decide ultimately comes down to your business situation. Both will allow your brand to occupy more real estate on the internet and you can allow both to work in tandem to get the best results. Try using SEO for long-term results and paid for short-term. Finding a good balance will greatly increase traffic and, eventually, sales.