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SEO vs. PPC: Own vs. Rent

“Should we focus on SEO or PPC?” is a question we get from B2B and B2C businesses often. And it’s a good one.

Everyone knows the best way to get your target audience to your website is by showing up on the first page of the search engines, but not everyone knows the best way to do that.

And the answer is: It depends on your goals.

But to make figuring that out easy, I like to break it down by the following question: Do you want to own or rent?

Besides relishing a good analogy, I like to use the “rent or own” question because like choosing to buy a house – or not – search engine marketing is an important investment for any business.

Here’s how to properly assess whether SEO or PPC, or both, is right for your business.

Benefits of SEO: Build It, Own It

First, let’s talk about what SEO is. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is a methodology used to increase the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. This is often referred to as “natural” or “organic” results.

When you build a house, or any kind of structure, it takes time to build it. SEO takes time too, but once you build it, you own it.

Unlike PPC, it doesn’t disappear when you decide to quit paying for an ad.

Akin to building a home, SEO costs money. It’s a long term investment. There’s no equity in the beginning. And you don’t get to enjoy the benefits until you’re finished building it.

And like any home, you have to maintain it. But the longer you work at sprucing it up, the more it will appreciate in value and continue to build on itself. The ROI with B2C or B2B SEO can have an amazing snowball effect.

The benefits and growth curve for SEO – when done right – are exponential.  Especially since the quality of leads you get from SEO are typically much higher than what you get from PPC.

Benefits of PPC: Rent It, Reap The Benefits Quick

PPC, or pay-per-click, is a form of Internet advertising used to direct traffic to websites. The advertiser is required to pay a sum of money to the search engines every time the ad is clicked on.

Compared to building a new structure, renting allows you to put down a deposit and move in pretty quickly. Like renting, PPC allows you to almost instantaneously occupy a space at the top of the search results, but you don’t own it. Google does. It doesn’t appreciate in value over time. And if you decide to stop paying for PPC, you lose your prosperous position.

Now, like SEO, PPC does allow you to improve performance over time, but it will depend on how much you’re willing to bid as the cost per click increases. And similar to SEO, you have to work at keeping your PPC customer acquisition costs low and ROI high, but due to its variable cost structure, PPC yields results in a linear fashion (compared to an exponential growth curve for SEO).

Rental properties are often used as a testing ground as the occupant figures out what they want to buy. PPC functions the same way.

Being able to test hundreds of keywords out of the gate allows you to quickly narrow down keywords that are ideal to target.

With SEO, it takes a bit before you see insightful stats. This is mainly due to the fact that it takes a while to get ranked organically via SEO. Until your website is ranked near the top of the search engine results, no one will see your website listing or click to visit your website.

And while SEO may reel in higher quality leads, PPC tends to yield a higher quantity of leads in the short term because you can bid on many keywords at once. But as time goes on, the scales often shift so that SEO begins to account for more leads than PPC.

The Ultimate Question To Ask Yourself

If you’re on the fence about which method to choose, there’s one question you need to ask yourself: Do I need leads or sales now, or am I willing to wait?

If you’re willing to wait in order to see a high return on investment, SEO is the best choice.

If you need sales like yesterday, it’s best to go with PPC.

If you want to get the highest possible return on your investment and yearn for leads and sales now, do both. PPC bridges the gap while you’re waiting for your organic rankings to increase through SEO.

I’d love to hear from you. Which method do you think is a better fit for your business and why? Please comment below.

2 Responses to “SEO vs. PPC: Own vs. Rent”

  1. joe derosa

    what do you think it would cost for ppc . i am trying ti be a real estate investor.
    also, about how long will it take to be at the top of the list with seo?

    • Matt Dalbey

      Hi Joe – Great questions! The cost of PPC includes service fees to manage your ads – to ultimately help you generate as many leads as possible for your money over time. You’ll also need to allocate a monthly ad budget to pay for clicks, which varies (primarily) based on your local target area (city, county, state, etc.).

      In terms of SEO, there’s no crystal ball or magic formula to know how long your site will take to get ranked organically… I wish there were. Every site is different. But the quick answer is: a few to several months, typically. Newer sites take longer to get ranked. Also, the competitiveness of your target keywords is a factor in “time-to-rank.” There are also many other SEO factors (100’s of them) that come into play that affect how quickly you can get (and stay) ranked. That said, getting ranked for a primary set of keywords initially is just the beginning of SEO. The longer you do SEO (assuming it’s done well), the more traffic and leads you’ll get… the “SEO snowball effect.”

      I’d be able to give you some more specifics if you have time for a quick meeting sometime. This would help me get a better feel for your goals and allow us to do some analysis based on the site you want to get ranked, for which market, etc. etc. I will send you an email. Hope to talk to you soon.


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