Why PPC Is the Perfect Complement to Your SEO Strategy What exactly are paid per click ads and what's the best way to use them?

By Timothy Carter

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the power of search engine optimization (SEO), it's possible to shape your business website. You can dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs) for queries related to your business. In other words, when people search for businesses like yours, your business is the first one to pop up.

The landscape of search engines and search engine results has evolved considerably in the last decade. Organic search results aren't the only thing you should be considering. If you want to make the most of your search engine optimization campaign, the perfect complement could be paid per click ads (PPC ads). But what exactly are these advertisements and what's the best way to use them to complement your SEO strategy?

Related: Is SEO or PPC Better for Your Business?

What are PPC ads?

As the name suggests, pay per click ads require the advertiser to only pay for the people who actually click on the ad. This is instead of charging based on impressions or a flat rate for listing the ad in the first place. If you place an ad with a CPC (cost per click) of $1.50 and you get 1,000 clicks, you'll end up paying $1,500 for the ad, total.

Google and Bing both have robust PPC ad platforms. You can also buy PPC ads through social media platforms like Facebook. However, Google remains the most popular and noteworthy source of PPC ads.

With that in mind, why are PPC ads such a good complement for an existing SEO strategy?

Related: 9 Mistakes Killing the Success of Your Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The Weaknesses of SEO

Let's start by taking a look at the weaknesses of SEO and the ways that PPC ads can complement them.

  • Time to start: SEO takes a long time to start. Even in a best-case scenario, with ample resources to work with. It's going to take you several weeks to roll out enough content, onsite optimization changes and backlinks to support your domain's growth. Beyond that, it could take months of effort before you start to generate momentum in SERPs. By contrast, you can get started with a PPC ad campaign immediately. As soon as you start paying money, your brand may be visible.
  • Unreliability: Unfortunately, SEO is a bit unpredictable. This is due in part because Google doesn't publish its algorithm and doesn't often announce new algorithm changes. This industry is also complex because of the sheer amount of competition involved. Even if you do everything perfectly, there's a chance a Google update or a wily competitor could interfere with your efforts. You may still face competition and technical changes in the PPC world. But at the end of the day, you know you're only going to pay for the clicks you actually generate.
  • Lack of visibility and control: Search optimizers often feel like they don't have much visibility or control. You have to do some digging to figure out how your rankings are changing. And, you'll always be in the dark about the Google search algorithm. But in the PPC world, data is much more available and much more transparent, fueling better decisions and better results.

The weaknesses of PPC

We also need to acknowledge that PPC ads have some weaknesses as well. It just so happens that SEO complements these weaknesses in turn:

  • The learning curve: With PPC ads, there's a significant learning curve. An amateur can learn how to place an ad in a matter of minutes. But if you want to see better results, target an audience and ultimately beat your competition, you're going to need to learn a lot more. By contrast, the fundamentals of SEO can be realistically learned in the span of an afternoon. And you can start writing content for your SEO strategy immediately.
  • Higher costs: It's hard to directly compare the costs of SEO and PPC advertisements because they're fundamentally different strategies. However, in some ways, PPC is more expensive. At scale, SEO is a frugal and self-sustaining engine, capable of fueling your business with even the smallest inputs. PPC ads will always be somewhat costly, especially if you're in a competitive industry.
  • Limited scalability: PPC ads are hard to scale, other than placing more ads with more people. But in the SEO world, scalability is practically infinite.
  • Audience targeting: In an SEO strategy, it's hard to tell who exactly you're targeting. You can do keyword research and analyze the demographics of your target audience. But you can't reach a hyperspecific audience segment without tools like those found in PPC ad campaigns.

Related: How to Implement Pay-Per-Click the Right Way

Toward an omnichannel approach

PPC ads and search engine optimization have excellent synergy, complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses. But they're not the only strategies with this form of synergistic value. In fact, most marketing strategies have the potential to work together and boost each other's results. That's why the omnichannel approach has gotten so popular in recent years. As you piece together a better strategy that utilizes both PPC ads and SEO elements, keep an omnichannel philosophy in mind.

Timothy Carter

Chief Revenue Officer of SEO.co

Timothy Carter is the CRO of the Seattle digital marketing agency SEO.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & digital marketing leading, building & scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and driving growth from websites and sales teams.

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