The COVID-19 pandemic served as a harsh wake-up call for businesses that remained stubborn about remaining exclusively offline. The worldwide call for social distancing meant that brick-and-mortar stores were forced to cease operations and most consumers didn’t feel safe leaving their homes. Any business that didn’t already have an established online presence or was too slow to migrate suffered as a result.
Even in 2021, it’s still not too late to catch up. However, starting an online business isn’t as easy as putting up a website or a social media page. Doing business online means that you can potentially reach a wider audience but it also means you have more competitors than in the physical sphere. In traditional retail, your competition is limited to the businesses in your area that offers the same product or service. Online, those barriers are gone. You could be competing even with international retailers. eCommerce PPC vs SEO: Which Has a Bigger Impact on Sales.
To stand out, you must implement an effective digital marketing strategy, but with so many techniques available, how do you know which one to choose?
Today, we’ll focus on two of the most popular digital marketing techniques: pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO).
What is PPC?
PPC is an advertising strategy that involves paying an amount proportional to the number of times someone clicks the ad. This is preferred by many marketers because it’s more cost-effective than traditional TV or print ads where you pay a set fee regardless of whether that ad was successful or not. You see PPC on search engines, often occupying the top 3 search results.
When used effectively, eCommerce PPC can increase site traffic and brand awareness, which could lead to more revenue.
What is SEO?
SEO is a process that uses various tried-and-tested techniques to boost your website’s ranking on search engine results pages. This is helpful because studies show that the higher your website ranks on the results pages, the more traffic, and impressions you get.
Sound familiar? It almost seems like SEO and PPC provide similar benefits: traffic and visibility. What’s the difference then? Is one strategy better than the other?
Comparing SEO and PPC
One of the main differences between SEO and PPC is that you get results much faster with PPC. You can often see the outcome of your PPC campaign an hour after you launch it. Meanwhile, SEO can take months. You may think this automatically makes PPC better, but the truth is, studies show that organic search gets higher click-through rates and consumer trust compared to paid search. Organic search refers to websites that rank higher through SEO, as opposed to paid search, where websites pay to get higher spots.
Another difference is that SEO is low-cost and can even be free. Meanwhile, it’s too easy to overspend if you’re not careful with your PPC campaign. SEO also offers a more stable output. Once you get your desired rank, it’s only a matter of minor modifications and monitoring to ensure you maintain that rank. Meanwhile, with PPC, the moment you run out of money, you lose your lead generation. Additionally, PPC runs into trouble with the rising popularity of adblockers.
Which is better?
Overwhelmingly, many marketers seem to agree that SEO offers a more robust and sustainable outcome. While eCommerce PPC does get people to your website, it won’t translate to sales if your landing pages and website aren’t geared toward conversion. In terms of traditional marketing, you can pay as much money as you want on ads, but if your physical store and customer service are a mess, no one is going to buy from you.
Meanwhile, SEO involves many techniques that indirectly result in an improvement in overall user experience and brand reputation. For example:
- Website optimization. Optimizing your website includes improving loading speed, adopting a more attractive design, implementing intuitive navigation, streamlining the checkout process, ensuring your site is accessible to PWDs, etc. By making your site the best it can be, it encourages users to stay and even purchase your products. When users stay on your website longer, it tells the search engine algorithm that your website provides a good user experience and will promote you to a higher ranking.
- Mobile-friendliness. More people use smartphones than desktops to access the internet, and search engines are responding to this by rewarding mobile-friendly websites. Through responsive design or developing a mobile site, you can guarantee that your website will be presentable and functional regardless of the device being used.
- Link building. Link building is a way when external websites create links that lead to your website. The more external sites that link you, the more search engine algorithms will view you as a reputable source of information. More links also mean more traffic.
- Content production. Content is an effective way for you to engage with consumers and boost your SEO efforts. Through the clever and natural insertion of keywords into the title or body of your content, you can match with users who are searching for those keywords. Creating high-quality content also gives users a reason to return to your website to see what else you have to offer.
- Online reputation management. This involves encouraging users to leave reviews on third-party sites like Yelp and Google. The more positive reviews you have, the more trustworthy your business appears to users and the search engine algorithm.
While SEO may be more time-consuming, it’s more effective for lasting, long-term growth. It’s also focused more on how you as a business can improve to give the users a better shopping experience. eCommerce PPC vs SEO: Which Has a Bigger Impact on Sales.
This is not to say that you should abandon eCommerce PPC from now on. As mentioned, SEO is a slow process, and if it takes you months before you see the results of your campaign, it could be challenging to troubleshoot and test. In the meantime, you can take advantage of PPC to drive traffic while you’re fine-tuning your SEO campaign, and once you’re satisfied with your search engine results page ranking, you can invest less money into your PPC campaign or re-target it to consumers you haven’t reached yet. eCommerce PPC vs SEO: Which Has a Bigger Impact on Sales.