When starting up a new business, a marketing budget is essential. That’s a no brainer, even if the budget is just your own time. But, where to actually put that budget is another question entirely. There are two main avenues for digital marketing budget when trying to get website traffic- SEO & PPC.

But, in the battle of the acronyms, which one will come out on to as to where to put your hard-earned cash for the best return of investment?

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In short, it’s the science behind getting your website to be as close to the top of the page as possible when someone searches a relevant keyword. Its good to rank highly for your brand name, but for that to generate any substantial traffic, your brand has to be established enough for people to search for it.

For many new businesses, this just isn’t the case. That’s where SEO and PPC come in. SEO, when done correctly, targets organic searches for keywords. If you’re a bathroom fitter called Bathroom Direct for example, good SEO wouldn’t target “bathroom direct” it would target “bathroom fitters” in whatever your local area might be, “bathroom fitters Northumberland” for example.

So, how can you see real results doing SEO? Well, it’s a tricky, complex process that requires technical expertise, keyword research, access to analytical statistics and content optimisation.

Michael Ryan, CEO and Director of MR SEO, a digital marketing agency in Essex explains “I’ve been doing SEO all of my working life, straight from school. I’ve worked with every type of business from huge travel brands to small start ups and every SEO campaign is different. Its not a one glove fits all strategy, but when done right and done in a bespoke way, the ROI of SEO can be huge.”

What is PPC?

PPC, or Pay Per Click, is targeting keywords through paying to do so rather than trying to rank organically for them. Any search result with “ad” next to it’s title, normally at the top of the page (now often also at the bottom, too) is a Pay Per Click result, meaning the company has paid to be there.

The positives of Pay Per Click are being placed high on the page. For smaller, less competitive terms, you can often be the first thing a potential customer sees. This can be huge for generating traffic to the site. The other positive of PPC is the ability to target competition directly. 

Using the Bathroom Direct example previously, PPC allows you to target anything from your own brand “Bathroom Direct” to SEO terms too such as “Bathroom Fitters Northumberland” as well as direct competition terms. This means that if a competitor in the area is called “Your Perfect Bathroom”, it would be very limiting to optimise your own site through SEO to target “Your Perfect Bathroom” and the customer would often be looking for your competitor’s brand directly, making it a waste of time to do so. However, in PPC, you can put yourself at the top of paid search against your competitor’s brand name. You can be above “Your Perfect Bathroom” in their own organic search terms.

Although somewhat looked down upon, this can be a quick, short term win to increase traffic to the site if you believe people will convert when finding themselves on your site over your competitors.


So, now you know what PPC and SEO are, how do you know which one is best for your business?

SEO is a much longer-term strategy. PPC is often a short-term strategy- or most beneficial as an extension of an already successful SEO campaign. By a short-term strategy, I mean PPC can be super successful in seasonal campaigns or campaigns surrounded by real world events. For example, if you have a product in immediate demand that might not have the same demand in 6 months’ time, it wouldn’t be a great decision to put together a 12-18 month SEO plan. Whereas PPC campaigns that can have an immediate impact would show a much quicker ROI. PPC campaigns can also be turned off whenever you want, meaning as soon as demand begins to fall, you can reduce budget and move resources elsewhere.

For the majority of businesses and industries however, you set up to be a long-term success. In an ideal world, you want short term sustainable success, which a great SEO campaign can achieve. However, given the choice, a long-term SEO strategy would benefit the majority of businesses, especially e-commerce and online service industries.

To conclude, SEO is the go to strategy for the majority of businesses. It gives you a longer term, more sustainable, consistent ROI when done correctly, which should be the main aim for businesses. Once this long-term strategy is in place, PPC can be incorporated to target terms that haven’t been as successful as you may have hoped within SEO or to see some short term success on a new product or service you may be introducing.