Organic or Paid advertising – which is better?

There’s a bewildering amount of online marketing options open to you today. How do you decide which is best for your business? Today the experts at Zebra 360 Digital Marketing Agency break down the differences between organic and paid advertising, and how to decide which works best for your business.

The online discovery process

Well over 90% of online experiences start with a search engine. Let’s be honest- we really mean Google! Once the prospective client searches for what they need, and begins browsing the listings on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), we get to the meat of selling. The real question is, however, how do you get yourself to that first page that’s likely to be where they make their buying decision?

Do you focus heavily on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and get there organically? Or do you head to Google Ads and invest in some Pay-Per-Click (PPC) to get to the top of the page quickly? Let’s take a look.

What is organic traffic?

Organic search results appear on a SERP without any paid advertising for the placement. How do you get there?

  • Sites that optimised for mobile and PC
  • Fast and user friendly navigation and functioality
  • Fast, intuitive site design
  • Relevant keywords and content used correctly
  • Domain authority and smart links

SEO refers to ‘fine tuning’ your content and website performance to stand out to visitors and search engines. High quality, well-optimised sites will boost you slowly to the first page of search results relevant to your industry. SEO, however, is a marathon, not a sprint. You need patience and a smart online optimisation strategy, you can’t simply spam keywords. One needs to ensure fresh and relevant content. Simple put its an ongoing strategy and it takes time to rank within the search engines.

What is paid advertising?

While the only way to get a high organic ranking on a SERP is smart SEO, you can also pay for ad placements. Users will then click the ad, which will usually be the PPC campaign we mentioned earlier. These campaigns will be strategic, designed to help you show for specific keyword queries, and you’re basically ‘bidding’ for that spot. You define an ad budget, keywords, and try to make an eye-catching advert so you get the clicks. Paid ads are great for quick brand awareness, and if you’re not doing well organically, offer a stepping stone to better online visibility. Used well, with data-driven research and sensible strategy, it’s a good way to broaden brand awareness and your audience, get clicks, and generate leads and conversions happen. It’s also a great way to gather data for future organic marketing efforts.

Let’s be clear- these are smart campaigns leading to designated pages on your site, preferably one with an exclusive event, offer, or incentive. They’re not spammy ‘pay for these links’ campaigns or other grey-area tactics that are going to hurt, not help, you over time. Like keyword stuffing, these are a big no-no that will hurt you, not help you.

So which is better?

You might not like to hear this, but it depends! Each has its advantages and disadvantages. PPC advertising is immediately visible, lets you target demographics, and provides quantifiable data. Yet there’s little longevity built-in, it’s a high-cost strategy, and you will need something ‘meatier’ to establish true market dominance. On the other hand, organic traffic is cost-effective, gives you a leg up on competitors, and delivers continual results regardless of budget constraints. It needs continuous work over a long period, however, can easily be impacted by algorithm changes, and results are neither immediate nor constant.

So, there’s several key things to consider:

  • Is this overall brand awareness or a once-off campaign?
  • What is your budget?
  • How long do you have to get results? Time-constrained campaigns do better with immediate PPC results, where building brand authority needs a long-term SEO approach
  • What are you doing this for? A specific campaign directing to an incentivised page is a different matter to trying to get traffic to your blog.
  • What challenges do you have? This could be anything from being so brand new you have no weight in searches, to previous bad SEO decisions impacting your ranking. This ideally needs to be evaluated and worked through with a digital marketing specialist so you can correctly find a new way forward

At the end of the day, most businesses will benefit hugely from coordinated campaigns that work on both organic and paid advertising strategies. You need to pay enough attention to your SEO to build your reputation over time, while using smart PPC to help you drive events and campaigns as well as build your overall authority and boost ROI and conversions. Smart brands use both strategically to build them to where they want to go.

Keen to get help with your SEO and PPC campaigns? The savvy team at Zebra 360 Digital Marketing Agency are always here to help you make your brand the very best it can be.