PPC vs. Organic Search: What offers the best ROI?

Such a simple question would have a simple answer, or so one would assume. But alas, the answer to this age-old question is far more difficult to come upon. The truth is that both PPC and organic search have their benefits and disadvantages. Where the goal is to get the best ROI, it can make sense to know the pros and cons of each.

The Case for PPC

PPC requires payment for your ad to be displayed whenever someone conducts a search for one of your keywords. These ads are usually positioned to the upper right of organic results.

PPC is great if you want quick results, because unlike their organic search counterparts, they receive top rankings as soon as you’ve paid for them. They are also ideal for getting more traffic from searches, as more clicks are earned by those PPC ads which contain keywords specific to brands or products. Finally, PPC can be used to target users by things like age and education.

Cost is a consideration for PPC because competitive keywords have higher per-click bid prices, which can really add up over time. In order to realise your ideal ROI with PPC, you will have to possess some expertise with this kind of campaign management, or spend money on an individual who has it. Although PPC ads can get instant traffic, the flow stops as soon as your payments do. Finally, past research has shown that consumers trust PPC ads less than they do organic search rankings.

The Case for Organic Search

Organic search results are those displayed to a user’s as a result of a search engine algorithm, which attempts to match the search query to existing websites. Here, the objective is to get on the first page of search results, ultimately reaching the top three results on the page.

The benefits of organic search are many. Not only do high-ranking sites communicate credibility to searchers, but they also indicate the authority of a website on a particular topic. High organic rankings are easier to keep once obtained due to the factors mentioned above. As well, the click-through rates for organic search results are better than those for PPC, which is very good news for companies with a longer cycle of buying.

Time is a definite factor where it comes to organic search, as it can take months or even years to achieve a high ranking. This also requires work, as content needs to be created, and then SEO tactics applied in order to increase visibility.  SEO is a science which requires much expertise to master; so much so that an external company may be required to complete it effectively.

Two Heads are better than one

Where the highest possible ROI is the goal, both methods should be used because each has benefits which can complement the other. For example, the PPC method can get quick traffic and more visits, whilst organic results can serve to provide traffic over the long term, as well as give a business increased credibility.