Many small and medium-sized businesses only have resources to invest in a few campaigns to drive traffic to their websites.

One decision that many have to make is between pay-per-click advertising (PPC) or search engine optimization (SEO).

Both of these strategies have their value, and ideally, a business would invest in both of them.

Running a PPC campaign, especially while SEO is just getting started, can help drive immediate traffic to your website.

But if you are in the early stages of your business and have to narrow down your campaigns, here’s what you need to know about each:

What Is Pay-Per-Click?

PPC is exactly what it sounds like.

You pay every time someone clicks on your link.

If you invest in Google AdWords, for example, your link will appear in the sponsored section at the top of relevant search results.

This is a good way to get to the top of search results as quickly as possible, but if you only have a limited budget, you have limited reach.

And just like any other marketing campaign, getting PPC right requires testing, adjustments, monitoring, and more adjustments.

PPC is a great way for a business to start driving traffic immediately—but only if it is done correctly and for the right reasons.

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization is a process of using keywords and link building in order to naturally rise through Google (and other search engines) page rankings.

Because the vast majority of your page traffic will come through organic search ranking listings, it is imperative to have a great ranking for relevant keywords.

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This can be done through writing keyword-rich content, blogging, linking to authoritative websites, and getting links to your website placed on authoritative websites.

The process is more in-depth and it takes weeks and even months before you see real results, which is why many people favor PPC over SEO.

Is PPC or SEO Better?

This is a difficult question to answer. The truth is that which method is right for you depends entirely on your business and its stage.

If you are just starting out, PPC will bring you more immediate results, which may be imperative for your businesses that need to start attracting traffic and making money as quickly as possible.

PPC does, however, have its pitfalls. Just because you have a link in the sponsored section of search results does not mean people will click on it.

While you only have to pay when someone clicks, you want people to click.

If they don’t click, you don’t pay—but you also don’t get any traffic and don’t make any money.

SEO, on the other hand, can be completely free (if you do all of the optimization yourself), but can also not bring you any real results for months.

For businesses that need more traffic right now, it is not the best option.

For those that have the resources and the wherewithal to wait until SEO has taken effect, it has much longer lasting benefits.

SEO will ultimately bring you more leads, over a longer period of time.

That doesn’t however, necessarily make it better for your business.

PPC is most effective when you have more than $50 a day to dedicate to it.

If this sounds daunting, consider this: the more money you spend, the more money you will make.

PPC, like SEO, is an investment. It requires you to make a real investment in order to see real results.

Just like you cannot invest a single dollar in the stock market and walk away with millions (unless you are very, very lucky), you cannot simply invest a dollar a week in PPC and expect to be successful.

This doesn’t mean that SEO is a better option for those with limited budgets, either.

SEO may be free if you do it all yourself, but it does cost you your time.

If you are going to take on all of your search engine optimization, you need to make sure you have enough time to budget it towards it in order to really get the benefits you need from it.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that most businesses will benefit from having both SEO and PPC.

They both feed in to one another and boost one another.

If you really have to choose just one, consider which one meets the long term goals of your business.

Pay-per-click advertising has great short-term returns.

Many businesses use it to shore up their web traffic while they are waiting for search engine optimization to kick in.

If you only have time and money to dedicate towards one, PPC could be the right option for you, hoping that the content you’ve written will be enough to naturally lift your website through the pages of search results.

Don’t discount a PPC campaign.

If you invest enough time and money into it, it can bring you serious returns.

The more time you spend perfecting your ad and the more money you are willing to invest in your budget, the more clicks you are going to attract.

Of course, not every click results in a conversion, but the better your ad is, the more qualified those clicks are going to be and the more likely they will be to convert.

Many people choose SEO over PPC because it has long-term benefits.

While you should never neglect SEO, spending some money and time to invest in PPC is just as important.

In short, invest in both—invest money in PPC and time in SEO.

Even if you have to start off slow, the profits you’ll gain from doing both in tandem provides you with the ability to snowball your efforts.

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