Even if you are quite new to the world of digital marketing, you have likely already come across that infamous dilemma: should you pour your hard-earned funds into PPC or SEO?

And like in all things digital marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all blueprint we can give you that will answer this question. You may have heard of brands that spend all of their advertising money on paid ads and get hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenues. And then there are those that have never paid an ad in their lives, but who receive a steady stream of leads and conversions from organic traffic.

Your choice will boil down to your goals, the type of product or service you offer, and several other small details that will serve as road marks on your way to success.

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself when determining how best to distribute your marketing budget:

What am I trying to achieve?

All successful strategies depend on how well you set your initial goals. Consider what you are looking to accomplish before you start slicing up your budget:

    • Do I need more visitors?
    • Do I need more qualified leads?
    • Am I looking for newsletter subscribers?
    • Do I want to reduce the bounce rate?
  • Do I want to improve my conversion rate?

If you are looking to attract completely fresh faces quickly, PPC should be your main focus. When promoting a time-specific sale or trying to boost a certain offer, again, PPC is the way to go.

If you are however looking to work on your bounce rate and dwell times, or if you are trying to promote a specific piece of content – SEO is the better bet.

PPC is also a great option for remarketing. If you are trying to hook some of your previous visitors, doing so with a well-timed and –placed remarketing campaign will yield much better results than any SEO efforts.

Who am I?

While it does sound like the ultimate meta question, you don’t need to delve too deep into metaphysics to answer it for the time being.

Define who you are as a brand, what kinds of products or services you offer, and who you are competing against.

If you are a yet unknown brand that is looking to break into the market, try spending more on PPC initially, as this will get your name recognized. PPC is great for driving some initial traffic and spreading brand awareness, whereas SEO takes more time and works slower. So, for getting those first customers through the door, go for paid ads.

Another important factor to bear in mind is how popular what you are selling is. If it’s a niche product not many people are likely to be looking for, PPC is yet again your weapon of choice.

Analyze your ideal customer to the death before you embark on either strategy: make sure you understand how these people look for things and how they make purchasing decisions, and only then try to reach them.

If you are operating in an industry that has tons of competition though, you will have to base your choice on a few more factors.

How much can I spend?

Sadly, this is usually the deciding factor for most: a limited budget means you can only invest in so much marketing-wise.  

In certain industries, PPC can be a very expensive sport. In the automotive industry, clicks can cost up to $2.5, and they can go up to $6.75 in the legal services niche.

Brands that sell any type of tech need to spend around $133 to get a lead to take a certain action – in contrast to the $44 spent in the travel industry.

So before you take any concrete action, make sure you determine how much acquiring a new customer through PPC will cost you. If you need to spend $100 to get someone to convert, but your product only costs $80, you are much better off splurging on SEO. It might take more time, but the traffic will be much more consistent, and will not stop coming in even after you stop spending.

Where am I?

Finally, if you operate a local business, it is often much more cost-effective to invest in local SEO than PPC. Some easy website tweaks and a few simple actions can help you rank better locally, and if you need those nearby to drop in and make an order in your brick and mortar store, spending money on paid ads will simply be futile.

On the other hand, if you are appealing to an international audience, you should first think about the questions listed above: and start looking into multilingual and multinational SEO, alongside PPC ads. Clicks and conversions are very differently priced in different countries, so if you can ship anywhere in the world, you might want to try appealing to a local audience all the way across the world.

Ultimately, the very best option is to marry PPC and SEO and reap the benefits of their collaboration. However, as only the biggest brands can afford to spend huge amounts of time and money on both, you are best off coming up with your own unique blend. Just remember that it is never a good idea to write SEO off completely – as it will be there even when your budgets are down, and you can’t afford to pay for as much ad time as before.

Web designer, lady of a keyboard and one hell of a geek. My expertise could be summed up in IT, digital marketing and business-related topics. My interests are, on the other hand, wide and ever-evolving.

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