When I meet with clients, one of the common questions I get is whether they should focus on paid ads or organic traffic.
Pay-per-click Ads vs SEO. Which is better?
The truth is they are different. And a good marketing strategy will have both.
I like to think of it like this: SEO is a cruise ship. Paid ads and funnels are speedboats.
Let’s start with paid ads. At any point, you can turn them on and off. You can edit text and immediately relaunch an updated campaign. You can launch dozens of campaigns simultaneously and test messaging to see what works. All of those are powerful tools to have your arsenal.
But these little speedboats are fairly inefficient. They give you agility and flexibility, but they don’t allow you to build much momentum. As soon as you kill the power you stop.
SEO is like a cruise ship. It takes a lot of work to get it going. It takes time to do keyword research, audit the site, fix technical errors, and most importantly, write great content.
And then it takes Google a while to index and crawl those pages. Often it can be months between launching a piece of content and its successful ranking.
But once it’s ranking generally, it will stay that way for a long time. SEO is powerful due to momentum. Your success grows over time. For example, I have one site I’ve been working on for over 2 years that increased ~45% in organic traffic just over the past 4 months!
We had many small wins initially, but it’s just now getting good.
So which is better? It really depends.
Ideally you want both. Paid ads allow speed and flexibility. SEO provides momentum and continued growth.
As a rule of thumb, ~45% of your traffic should come from “owned” media – including organic.
~30% should come from paid.
~25% should be earned (PR and social media).
This isn’t a perfect formula. But it’s a great rule of thumb.
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