Is SEO or PPC better? That is the question.
…Unfortunately, the real answer is, “it depends.” It depends on the type of business you’re in, what you’re promoting, how your sales funnel works, and all sorts of things. I can’t cover every variable, so I will do my best to give a good general answer. Also, since I am an affiliate marketer and this is a blog written for those who are interested in affiliate marketing, I will argue from that perspective since it’s what I know best. However, I think what I am about to go over can apply for just about any business owner trying to decide between SEO or PPC.
So, let’s dive in.
Advantages & Disadvantages of PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)
Imagine for a moment you had a machine sitting next to your desk. All you had to do with this machine is put a dollar in it, and a few minutes later, $2 would come out. The machine could do this all day, every day, and could run for weeks, months, or even years before it would stop giving you $2 for every $1 you put in.
Seriously, be a kid for a second and just think about that. A freakin’ money machine! How awesome would that be!? You could just have it print thousands of dollars every day!
Well, for the fortunate business owners that discover profitable PPC campaigns, that’s exactly what they get. A freakin’ money machine.
Now I don’t want to lose you here… This isn’t some get rich quick website and I’m not selling you some “secret system” to use PPC as your very own money machine. What I’m saying, however, is that PPC, in theory, CAN make you very rich in a very short period of time. It can quite literally be a money machine if you do it right. You put in a dollar, you get $2 back, and you can even run the machine while you’re sleeping or on vacation. When has something like this ever existed in the history of mankind, ever?
Yes, I’m hyping this up a little bit and yes, I can already hear your criticism…
“Ok, well that’s great. But if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it, right?”
The problem with PPC is it IS NOT easy. Even with the targeting you can do with PPC (only displaying for certain search terms, retargeting, etc.), people simply hate being advertised to.
Most people aren’t stupid when it comes to advertising. When someone sees a Facebook or Google Adsense ad, they know it’s an ad. Right away, your trust with that individual is destroyed. As soon as they land on your page, they are already thinking, “ok, they paid for that ad, which means they want me to buy something and make money off of me.”
This results in low click through rates and conversions. As an affiliate marketer, I’m even more disadvantaged because I might only get a small percentage of the sale.
Suddenly, instead of putting in a dollar and getting $2 back, you might be getting 50 cents back… or nothing at all!
The sad reality is, it usually takes a LOT of experimenting and THOUSANDS (if not 10’s of thousands) of dollars to find an ad combination that works. You really need the perfect recipe… You need a good advertisement, you need a good landing page, and you need a good offer that people actually buy or sign up for. It is incredibly difficult to find that perfect combination without weeks or months of testing and thousands of dollars spent on unprofitable advertisements.
Once you DO find that great ad combination that spits out a dollar for every 2 you put into it, you can scale things up and just dump as much into that ad combo as possible in the hopes that you will not only break even, but really begin to profit.
Make no mistake… There are many people and many business owners who have become millionaires by finding great PPC methods, but it’s not easy and for the most part, it’s like gambling – you might hit the jackpot or you might not.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Remember that money machine I brought up earlier? Imagine that machine works a little bit differently now. Instead of putting money into it, you could spend time rebuilding it so that it just pumps out money 24/7/365. The trade-off? You have to constantly maintain the machine several times per week. So, in essence, you are no longer putting money into the machine in hopes of a return, rather, you spend time on the machine in the hopes you can make it spit out money by itself. Welcome to SEO.
Search engine optimization is the preferred method for most affiliate marketers and businesses. When a visitor clicks on a free listing from Google search results, their guard is immediately much, much lower than if they arrived from an advertisement. This sends conversion rates through the roof! Absolutely nothing compares to the conversion rates seen through search traffic. Nothing. To make matters even better? You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to use SEO. You can do it all by yourself and the only thing you’re really spending is time and effort.
Another great advantage of SEO is that you’re building a real virtual asset. Sure, you could have a 10 page site and send PPC traffic to it, but what happens when your PPC campaign no longer works? It’s all over. If you focus on doing SEO the right way, you will build out a website with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of useful pages that truly help those who visit your pages. Now your site is really worth something. Your site is no longer just a digital sales brochure. It’s an asset.
But just like PPC, search engine optimization has its downfalls. For starters, you need to develop high quality articles in order to realistically expect SEO traffic. Just check out THIS very website you’re on right now. I’ve set up this website to gain as much traffic from search engines as possible. It is just over 1 year old and there are hundreds of content packed pages on the site. You can’t just create one article – you need lots of them. And you won’t see immediate results like you can through PPC, rather, it might take months or even YEARS for a page your wrote to end up on the first page of Google search results.
Let me tell you though… On some of my affiliate sites, I am still making money every day from pages I wrote many years ago. While those pages were making me money, I wrote more pages that do the same. It just keeps growing and growing and growing. After enough time, SEO becomes a truly passive income source that can bring in just as much, if not more, than PPC.
But if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it, right?
The biggest issue with SEO is the amount of time it takes to start seeing results. With PPC, you can start seeing results as soon as the ad goes live in real-time. With SEO, you have to put in months of work writing 100+ articles in the HOPES that the search engines will like you enough to reward you for your efforts. That is one tough trade-off.
So, Which Is Better? SEO or PPC?
I know I’ve gotten a bit long-winded here and many of you are probably just looking for a straight up answer. So here it is. As an affiliate marketer who has been earning a full time living advertising other peoples products and services online, it is my opinion that SEO is better almost every time.
I’m all about long-term strategies and there is no better long term strategy than SEO. The things that are required to do well with SEO, by default, cause you to build a high quality website. By building a high quality website, you begin to truly establish yourself. Not only do you reap the benefits of SEO, but you gain a free marketing team from those who share your articles in social media, through news sources, from their blogs, etc. The more well-known you become, the more your stuff gets shared, and the more traffic you get back to your site. In other words, you truly build a brand and a real business with a real asset. Heck, even if you decide to leave the game entirely, you can still sell your website to someone. Even just the domain name will have become profitable! For every page you create, you just build up your asset that much more.
Why Settle For One When You Can Have Both?
The thing is, search engines change their algorithms all the time. Just one search engine update can destroy all your SEO efforts. On the other hand, PPC ads get banned all the time, too. Google is known to ban accounts for high spending Adwords advertisers with no explanation and no way to get their account back. Poof, it’s gone. Forever. The money machine gets switched off just like that.
For those who have a lot of money up front, it might be a good idea to start with PPC and continue to diversify through SEO over time. On the other hand, if you don’t have much start-up capital, start with SEO and as that begins to bring in some revenue, begin re-investing it into PPC campaigns.
Most online business do gain the vast majority of their traffic and revenue through just one or two sources, which is definitely risky, but that’s the nature of an online business. Attempt to diversify as much as possible, always experiment, and never give up. No pain, no gain.
Rest assured, no matter what your personal belief is about whether PPC or SEO is better, you can make a lot of money with either method. I simply prefer SEO over PPC for my own personal affiliate marketing business.
I hope this helped and please be sure to share your experiences in the comment section below!