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Organic Search vs. PPC

Successful lead generation in digital marketing is heavily dependent on search engines and social media. Google accounts for over 90% of all web-traffic, while over 70% of the U.S. population uses social media in some form. That’s why companies will go to great lengths to ensure that they are represented on the first page of search results or featured prominently in their users’ social feeds.

What are organic search and PPC?

There are two main ways that you can improve your visibility online:

  • The first is by organically boosting your position in search engine results when users conduct a relevant search through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • The second is through Pay Per Click advertising campaigns on major social media platforms.

SEO and PPC marketing are two ways to get eyes on your business in the most important arenas online: the search results page and the social media feed. But for companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy, it can be tough to know which is better to invest in: organic search or PPC?

So, which is better?

The short answer is: both. SEO and PPC differ significantly, but they are two sides of the same coin, each optimized for different content formats, audiences, and behaviors. Social media rewards emotionally-charged content, rich with visuals, and speaks to audiences on a personal level. It yields results almost immediately; this instant-gratification and potential for virality draws many marketing departments towards PPC. On the other hand, search engines tend to elevate well-cited long-form textual content. Improving your SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, with steadily increasing engagement instead of the rapid spikes of social media. Ultimately, both are both indispensable in a well-rounded marketing strategy, with SEO fueling awareness and traffic while social media builds your brand, develops your community, and drives engagement.

How should I use them in my marketing strategy?

When implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that includes both SEO and PPC marketing, you should recognize the unique strengths of each method. Overall, PPC marketing on social media is optimized for:
  • Cultivating legitimacy for your brand through dynamic, enriching, visual content.
  • Communicating with your audience, developing relationships, and growing your network.
  • Running special promotional campaigns.
  • Giving you a short-term engagement boost with the potential to go viral.
  • Receiving highly detailed feedback about your campaigns performance through robust analytics platforms.

On the other hand, improving your SEO will allow you to:

  • Respond to your audience’s specific concerns, since when people conduct searches they are generally looking to solve a problem or conduct research.
  • Accrue long-term credibility and establish yourself as an authority.
  • Convert leads into purchases at a quicker rate, as those who are searching for a topic are much more ready to purchase compared to relatively passive social media users.
It’s worth noting that when implementing a SEO strategy, it’s essential to work with a trusted SEO service provider. An amateurish SEO partner could hurt your rankings or worse, get you on a blacklist. When in doubt, ask for results. Any SEO partner should be able to provide examples of when they have improved previous clients’ rankings and how. Google is known to penalize sites who are employing Black Hat SEO techniques—in other words, they are attempting to take advantage of the sorting algorithm and force their way to the top of the results.

SEO and PPC marketing should serve distinct, but complementary roles in any digital marketing strategy. There is also a significant degree of cross-pollination between the two methods. Popularity on social media does increase your search engine ranking, while visitors from Google search often engage through commenting, liking and sharing through their linked social media profiles.

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