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SEO vs PPC: What's the Difference?

When you start planning ways to attract web traffic, you're bound to come across two terms: SEO and PPC.While these two things both serve to attract traffic and business to your site, they go about it in two very different ways. While there are similarities, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click marketing (PPC) are different web-success tactics that you need to understand.We'll give the differences between SEO vs PPC in detail to help you on your way to owning a successful site.

SEO vs PPC: What's the Difference?

At the baseline, SEO is a way to find your site at the top of searches, while PPC is a method of e-marketing that targets specific audiences. It goes a lot deeper than that, though, and we'll dive in now.

Search Engine Optimization

The search engine is king in the world of the internet. Whenever people need information, they type a few keywords into their browser and trust the top few results. This is undeniable, and businesses have certainly taken notice. Those sites that sit at the top of the search results are unquestionably the most successful. But how do those sites get there and what can you do to reach the top?SEO is a large effort to answer those questions. Luckily, there are some surefire answers that will help you immensely. We have to start by taking a look at how search engines work.Search engines operate under an algorithm. This means that when someone searches a few keywords, the search engine puts those words through a formula and drudges up websites to which those keywords are the most relevant. That seems simple, but the process is very complicated.Sites like Google use an algorithm with over 200 factors, and those factors are kept from the general public. Search engines have the goal of making their results the most relevant to the needs of the user. At the same time, all websites want to be at the top of the search results.If all sites knew the ins and outs of the algorithm, even the least relevant site could tailor its content to look good for the search engine. For that reason, the elements of the algorithm are kept secret. Luckily, though, we've determined a few things that are constant.

Elements of SEO

In order to optimize a site, there are a couple methods that search engines definitely look for. These are keyword optimization, quality content, links, and freshness. Keyword optimization is exactly what it sounds like. If you search "flatbread pizza shop near harbourfront," the search engine will scour the internet for sites with those keywords.There are going to be a lot of sites with those keywords, though, so the algorithm needs to look at the quality of the site. Those pages that are frequently engaged with will be seen to have more quality, making it "quality content."Further, there are going to be a number of sites that have quality content, so there need to be more levels to find the most relevant sites on the web. This is where links come into play. Links serve as "votes" in favor of the relevance of a site.The more links that you have from reputable websites, the more relevant and important your site will seem. On top of all this, those sites that are the most recent will be given an extra advantage.There's a lot more to SEO, but that is a basic outline of how it works. A lot of work is put into tuning websites to fit the categories above, and that entire process is called search engine optimization.

Pay Per Click Marketing

PPC is an advertising method that finds people who are very likely to want your product.Most pay per click platforms offer the ability to directly target certain demographics at certain times. These platforms are able to do this because they are, in large part, the search engines themselves.Most large search engines and social media platforms have a PPC option. These sites keep demographic information on specific users and have the ability to chart that data. This insight provides you with the opportunity to market to, say, teenagers in Louisiana after 6 pm.The demographic you want to reach will dictate which PPC platform that you use. If you're looking for brand development and general traffic, you might choose to go with Google Ads. On the other hand, if you want to generate sales, you might go with Pinterest's PPC platform. Research shows that Pinterest users are far more likely to make purchases than those who use, say, Facebook. You'll have to do the research to find your audience and see where they browse. The important thing, though, is that you're able to reach them where they search because your ad platform is run by their browser.

Why It's Called "PPC"

"Pay per click" refers to the method of payment that you use. It's a really great system for those who have a low budget but want to get results.You are only charged every time that someone clicks on your ad. The rate of "click" varies, but the fact is that you get exactly what you pay for. A lot of marketing companies charge outlandish fees for services with little results.This doesn't mean that your ad will grow out of control, giving you a huge marketing bill at the end of the month. No, you set a budget and your ad is removed once the total is hit.The cost-effectiveness of PPC is excellent when you weigh it against the platforms' abilities to market to such specific audiences.

Want to Know More?

There's a lot more information out there on SEO vs PPC. It's pretty clear, though, that using one of the tactics above is essential. You may even want to use both methods to really generate sales.You don't have to do it all on your own either. Professional services offer a lot of expertise that you wouldn't find if you tried to optimize your own site. If you have questions about how to grow your online presence, visit our site to learn more.

Headshot of Nik Paprocki, head of growth at WebSuitable.
Nik Paprocki
Head Of Growth
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