The debate between content marketing and paid promotion is one that has been ongoing for quite a while. Over the course of the past few decades, the internet has become an increasingly important facet of every consumer’s life. More and more time is spent online, and this has required every business to hone their online marketing strategy to reach their target audience and retain their current customers. Search engine results are the advertising battlegrounds of our current age. Businesses must have a multifaceted, comprehensive online marketing strategy in order to remain competitive online, regardless of the industry. Two important facets of all content marketing strategies are organic SEO content marketing and paid advertising. Oftentimes the conversation around these two marketing strategies is framed as one or the other, but is there a straightforward answer to this question? There are many ways to examine these two different approaches, and many will argue one way is better than the other. The bottom line for every business is: Which one will help you grow your business reach, increase your brand awareness, and increase your revenue stream? Perhaps the best way to start is to explore each strategy and compare how they differ from one another.
SEO and Content Marketing
There are many reasons why content marketing is a wise choice for your marketing plan. It has long been proven as a successful marketing method but requires different methods to be successful than what you would do for paid advertising. In a nutshell, organic SEO content marketing is focused on unpaid search results rankings. These types of high search rankings are achieved by developing and implementing strong content using SEO keywords and phrases in order to boost your rankings in Google search results. When done correctly, SEO will boost the visibility of a website and positively impact the rankings. There are many advantages of organic SEO content marketing, including affordability, increasing credibility, delivering a fantastic return on your investment, delivering insightful data on user trends, attracting new customers, and creating content that supports all other marketing channels. One of the most important features of organic SEO content marketing is affordability. This type of marketing will not have a huge impact on your monthly ad budget and there are no costs for advertising on Google. The only upfront cost to you is time. It will take time to create a strategic plan to implement your organic content marketing, research SEO keywords and phrases, and effectively optimize your website. Then it takes a little more time for Google to recognize your website based on the keywords in the meta titles and descriptions and in the on-page content. Organic SEO content marketing requires you to develop creative and relevant content directly on your website. When you create content utilizing the SEO keywords and phrases, this will give any visitor to your website relevant information to consume, and will also increase their conversion rate on any action items. More time on your website means a greater chance they will be converted to a customer. Organic SEO content marketing will also boost your credibility with Google. When you develop content for your website, you will be adding depth to it, and showing up in the unpaid search results will show you are a reliable source for users to return to time and time again.
Good Content Works Across a Variety of Platforms
A well thought out and strategic organic content plan also helps you build your presence across multiple media channels. Especially on your company’s social media channels. You can repurpose the original content you created to fit your various platforms. Your audience likely looks a bit different on each of your social media channels, as each social media platform attracts a unique audience. Additionally, the way you format your content will depend on your overall strategy and goals, but content marketing gives you this flexibility. Consumers like businesses who provide engaging and informative content, and this is a way to build a relationship with them. You will see a return on this investment of time in the form of website conversions, increased storefront traffic, informational inquiries, and purchases both now and in the future. This leads us to another difference between organic SEO content marketing and paid advertising: The time required to see a return on your investment. Organic SEO content marketing requires a significant time commitment. This is not a one and done strategy. It will take you several months of consistent content marketing before you begin to see results. It also takes a significant time commitment to see the impact of the SEO keywords and phrases you have chosen to optimize your website. Organic SEO content marketing results are like a snowball; they are slow to get moving and might take awhile to gain some traction, but once they do there’s no stopping them. Once you have established your goals, you can use organic SEO content marketing to help you build your visibility and achieve your long-term business goals.
SEO Provides Valuable Data
SEO content marketing also supplies you with a wealth of data. The data will come from having analytics tracking installed on your website, which your website designer or developer should have put on your website from the very beginning. Once analytics tracking has been on your website for at least a month, you will be able to begin mining it for valuable information. The data collected from analytics will help you exponentially the longer this valuable tracking feature is present on your website. You will be able to track user behavior, gain insights on where they are from and how they found your website, where they are going on your website, how long they stay, and their conversion rate. The SEO keywords and phrases you have on your website will inform this data as well, giving you a complete picture of your users and allow you to identify your target audience. While it is not advised to change SEO keywords and phrases frequently, the data will give you information for areas where you can improve, refine, or pivot. Data will also help you evaluate your target audience and allow you to see if there are consumers you have not yet reached or could be reaching more effectively. SEO may take a little longer to see results, but it is well worth the wait. The data you can gather and analyze will be informative, insightful, and useful to guide your marketing strategy moving forward.
Paid advertising is another way to reach your marketing goals through very different means than SEO. Especially if your goals are to rank high quickly on the search engine results page, PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, or Google Ads, will get you right in front of your target audience immediately. This type of marketing will deliver the results you need in a short time frame, giving you higher quality leads and increased conversions. Pay-per-click is paid advertising that will show your ad at the top of the Google search results page, and you pay each time a person clicks on your ad. Paid ads vary depending on the type of industry and ad, but generally they feature a headline and a description that link to your website or other platform. Sometimes they may include images or other information. Paid advertising is an effective way to increase the visibility of your business, attract leads, and generate sales quickly. One of the major differences between paid advertising and SEO marketing are the upfront costs. Paid advertising will impact your advertising budget, but the good news is a digital marketing agency can help you utilize your budget strategically to reach your overall marketing goals. Your costs will be determined by a number of factors, and your digital marketing team can help you weigh the variables and decide what works best for your company and your marketing goals. Regardless of how much you spend, pay-per-click advertising is a successful advertising method for companies in every industry, both online and offline. Paid advertising is flexible, allowing you to adjust your budget from campaign to campaign if needed. Paid advertising can increase both your online and offline traffic, leading to increased conversions both on your website and in your storefront.
The Time Advantage of Paid Advertising
Another difference between paid advertising and SEO is the time it takes to get results. Where organic content marketing requires a significant time commitment up front, with paid advertising you will have almost instant results. There is no need to wait for months to see the results of your campaign. Paid advertising generally has quick approval times and benefits from the maximized exposure. Whether the goal of your campaign is to get site visits, clicks, or purchases, your company will benefit from increased activity. These results will give you insightful data as well. Similar to organic marketing, you will be able to see how your keywords perform, how long users spend on each page, and key demographic information. While you won’t have the depth of data SEO can provide, you will be able to use the data you do have to inform your campaign and adjust accordingly. You will not be locked into a campaign or keywords for extended periods of time, and if a particular ad is not garnering the results you are looking for, you can pivot and try something new. Paid advertising gives you the flexibility to change your ad strategy at a moment’s notice. You can adjust your bid, refine your targeting, write new ad copy, or create a new landing page. Paid advertising will give you data you can use to improve your online advertising strategy.
PPC Attracts Consumers Who Are Ready to Buy
PPC is also a magnet for consumers who are ready to buy. This form of advertising focuses on targeting those users who are ready for a transaction, whether it is a product or service, they are ready to sign up, purchase, rent, or hire. The cost to reach these types of users may be higher, but you will see the return on your investment and get the results you want through increased revenue. This is one reason why it is imperative to monitor your ad campaigns closely to make sure they are performing the way you need them to perform. This will cost your team a significant time commitment. Paid advertising campaigns are high maintenance. If you are unable to give your ad campaigns the proper time and attention, it can lead to lost conversions, lost revenue, and even increased ad costs down the road. This is where you can benefit from hiring an experienced digital marketing agency to manage your PPC campaign.
PPC Versus SEO in the Long Game
Another difference between paid advertising and organic marketing is paid campaigns are only effective as long as you are running the ads. Once your ads stop, the results also immediately stop. This could create a problem if your results rely solely on paid advertising, but it’s important to remember paid advertising is just one tool in your marketing toolbox. You do not want to rely solely on paid advertising to achieve the results you need. It is not sustainable to put all of your eggs in one basket. While paid advertising can help you achieve your marketing goals quickly, it is higher maintenance than SEO marketing and, if neglected, will lead to lost revenue and squander your ad budget. SEO, in contrast, may take longer to produce results, but the results will be more deeply rooted and will provide long-term benefits.
PPC and SEO Work Better Together
One thing you will notice about SEO marketing and paid advertising: Both will help you reach your marketing goals. Although these two marketing tools are similar in some ways, they also will give you results in very different ways. PPC will drive actions, give you instant results, and offer the flexibility to move and change. SEO is cost-effective, provides long-term results and insights, and creates content for a range of channels. Both marketing tools are immensely valuable to you and your company, but in order for both to be effective, they have to be implemented properly. Understanding how each marketing tool works will help you align your goals with measurable actions based on what each marketing tool can provide you. It is best practice to incorporate both paid advertising and organic marketing into your overall digital marketing strategy.
SEO will help you attain your long-term strategic marketing goals. This will allow you to build a rapport with your target audience, increasing their loyalty and generating ongoing revenue. PPC will make certain your ad gets in front of your target audience and leads them to your website in the short term. Before you decide how you want to implement these strategies into your marketing plan, make sure you have thought out your short-term and long-term marketing goals for your business. Outlining your goals and working with a reputable digital marketing agency like Digital Marketing Partners will put your goals within reach, and your business will soon start reaping the benefits of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.