SEO and your dependence on PPC

With the ever increasing cost of CPCs, there’s no better time than now for brands to shift their focus to SEO and become less dependent on Paid Media (PPC).  In 2017, the top 5 most expensive keywords in AdWords were “Business Services” (avg. CPC of $58.64), “Bail Bonds” (avg. CPC of $58.48), “Casino” (avg. CPC of $55.48), “Lawyer” (avg. CPC of $54.86) and “Asset Management” (avg. CPC of $49.86). 

A variety of factors can drive the cost of your targeted keywords - everything from your industry type, competitive landscape, geographic region, etc., PPC is like renting a house, car or apartment as it becomes readily available to you the moment you begin to pay. 

Paid Media is useful to achieve short term results, although a better balance between SEO and PPC is crucial. With this in mind, brands that create a relevant, Organic content experience, will succeed in the long run.

What is the strategic advantage of transferring more of your PPC efforts to SEO?

Balancing your PPC and SEO efforts may allow you to cut down your PPC campaign costs as you can prioritize SEO efforts on more costly keywords given that Organic traffic is free, relatively speaking. Developing SEO visibility will take time and effort (money), but unlike PPC, there isn’t a direct charge for each impression or click that your site receives.

For example, if you were targeting the keyword “lawyer”, at an average CPC of $54.86 per click, your campaign cost would add up very quickly!  Now, you might be thinking that $55 per click is an exception and not all keywords are that expensive, and you’re right. However, how would you feel about your ROI if a particular keyword with an average CPC of $2 per click, yielded 1 customer after 1,000 clicks? 

If you were to switch selected keywords from PPC over to SEO, you would be able to offset the cost of a Paid Media campaign and save money in the long run. Just imagine ranking for your targeted PPC keywords without having to pay for each click on your result in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), that alone is worth the potential cost of implementing this type of strategy. 

SEO: Improve your site’s Organic ranking and traffic

Think of SEO as a long term investment, like buying a house. Here’s a list of pros and cons of SEO.

The Pros of SEO

Cost per click (CPC): As mentioned above, your Organic traffic from your SEO efforts is free. While developing and executing that visibility and strategy will take time and effort (money),  there is no direct charge for each impression or click, in comparison to PPC - think $55 per click!

Cost effectiveness: As with PPC, there is a cost associated to implementing an SEO strategy as it will require time in order to get efforts off the ground. However, SEO will generally be more cost-effective than all other marketing tactics for delivering brand awareness and relevant traffic to your website.
More overall clicks: With more on-page real estate, a well optimized site can position itself near or at the top of the SERP, in position zero,  or in the knowledge graph that in turn will help maximize visibility and clicks.

Sustainability: With over 1.2 trillion searches done on Google each year, the sustainability provided by SEO tactics will provide you with long term success. Unlike with PPC, your site’s Organic traffic will not cease to exist given the exact moment you stop paying.

Better click-through rates (CTR): Users tend to trust Organic results more than the paid results. This being said, you're more likely to generate more clicks from a highly placed Organic result than a Paid Search ad, which will in turn help to increase your sites CTR.

The Cons of SEO

SEO will take time: In comparison to fast acting PPC campaigns, SEO efforts can take time before generating tangible results.

SEO has no guarantee for results: Given that approximately 75% of users are likely to never scroll past the very first SERP, it’s not a wonder that marketers are hungry to have a presence on the widely sought after first page. Landing on the first SERP will be one of the most important goals you should plan to achieve with your SEO, but unlike with PPC, there’s no guarantee that your SEO efforts will land your brand in the coveted first page given your targeted keywords.

No full control: With PPC you have full control of your ads and how and where they appear. With SEO you have no such control and you have little, to no control, on how much traffic you will generate and what type of traffic you will be getting from your efforts.

Risk of being penalized: Google makes changes to their algorithm on a constant basis, some are minor and some are major and almost all have great names such as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. This means that if you are not on the up and up with your SEO efforts, you run the risk of being penalized and you’ll find out that your brand lost all its rankings over night, leaving you to rebuild from scratch in a bid to regain your sites once glorious rankings.

PPC: Fast implementation for quick, short-term results

Think of PPC as a short term investment, like renting a house. Here’s a list of pros and cons of PPC.

The Pros of PPC ads


Speed: First page search traffic can be obtained almost instantly; however, as soon as the ad budget runs out or ads are discontinued, the traffic disappears.


Targeting: PPC is much different than SEO when it comes to targeting. PPC allows you target your ads in order to get in front of the right potential customers. What this means is that you can target your ads by  keywords, time of day, day of the week, location, and more. Organic traffic is far more scattershot to be able to do this kind of targeting.


Position on page: Position on the page matters, after all, you want your site to appear at the top of the page. This is one area where Paid Search dominates, in above-the-fold content. Depending on your search, there are typically 3 ads on display at the top of the page or 5 visual product ads. Given this, a user will always see the Paid Search ads, before they see the Organic results.


Provides greater control: While SEO allows your brand to have greater search presence, PPC allows full control of all aspects of your Paid Search campaign. With PPC you can control things like how much to bid, how long the campaign run for, what keywords to target and the overall cost of the campaign.


Visual product ads:  Product listing ads or (PLAs) are a great PPC feature.  Google provides the option of visual shopping ads that can help a user see what they will be clicking on. For example, if you Google, “ Lawn Mowers for sale”, PLAs will appear for this type of search. This kind of ad can really improve the click-through rate by offering a feature not available in Organic search.


The Cons of PPC ads

Expensive: PPC is advertising after all and it requires a constant investment. Depending on your campaign, the costs can add up quickly. Just imagine if you’re running international campaigns or are targeting entire countries.


When your campaign ends, your leads do too: Unlike with SEO, once you stop paying for your ad campaigns, your ads and your lead generation goes away. 


Bidding wars: Bidding wars are not uncommon with PPC. As with any type of bidding, competition amongst participants ultimately drives the end cost of the good. PPC bidding is no exception to this as advertisers outbid competition to obtain the best ad position.



The benefits of running SEO and PPC together - the 1+1=3 effect


By avoiding siloed SEO and PPC strategies, marketers reap the benefits of having a strategies that complement each other and do not compete with each other for clicks and traffic.


By utilizing both Paid Search (PPC) and Organic Search (SEO) you can build  an integrated search strategy that uses both resources to their fullest for an optimal approach. Adopting this approach will allow you to potentially achieve Search Domination. This means that if you plan out your strategies, you’ll be able to have both your SEO and PPC dominate the first SERP for your chosen keywords.



Both strategies have their own Pros and Cons and work well separately when executed properly, although, the key is to create a strategy that allows your SEO efforts and PPC campaigns to work hand-in-hand. By doing so, you’ll be able to cut down on your costs, by prioritizing your SEO efforts on high costing keywords. 


While cutting down on your advertising costs, a blended SEO and PPC strategy also increases your brand’s search presence. Ideally, a site’s Organic traffic would be sufficient enough to not be impacted by any decrease in PPC budget. Equally, more PPC budget could be placed on terms and pages that don’t perform as well in Organic listings, thus allowing for a greater total product coverage and performance without an increase in total client spend.