PPC vs Content vs SEO: Which One Works Best for Small Businesses?

For most small businesses, digital marketing is a complex endeavour that requires sacrifices. Organizations are now aware of the importance of intelligently investing their dollars into profitable forms of online marketing that target desired audiences via search engines.


Research has shown that nowadays people are most likely to end up on your site via Google search. According to the statistics, it has been brought to light that 90 percent of all online experiences start with a simple search. A significant number of today’s Internet users begin their sessions by opening their favourite browser and typing in the keywords related to the topic they’re interested in learning more about. And, as the study confirms, 81 percent of those users find their desired destination via the search engine.


These particular findings have underlined the fact that the Internet is an extremely lucrative platform and everyone who’s smart enough could put its power and functionality to good use. Targeting your desired users via search has become a necessity for most small businesses, not just those that operate exclusively online. Today, brands that have a strong presence in search are the ones controlling the market.


Even though most currently active companies understand the value of reaching out to their targeted audiences through every possible channel of this digital world, generating profit online is still a bit of a challenge.


If you want to make your online presence known to the public, you need to be serious about your marketing efforts and try your best to outdo your direct and indirect competitors in every possible aspect. A lot of brands today don’t really have the necessary manpower or funds to pursue every marketing related opportunity they come across. They need to prioritise their options and efforts in this department, and carefully plan their budget. That is the only way for them to remain relevant in their niche or market.


In the following segments of this article, I’m going to compare all the pros and cons of investing in some of the most popular SEM practices (PPC, SEO and Content Marketing) today:

1. PPC


A.k.a. Pay-per-click, is one of the most commonly used forms of online advertising. PPC runs on a simple model where advertisers pay a fee each time Internet users click on their ad. Companies outsource their PPC efforts or build their own dedicated teams, depending on their needs and level of trust in this way of promotion.


PPC can be used for many different purposes. It can be a tool for building awareness or a prime source of income for businesses. It all depends on how serious a certain brand wants to get into paid marketing.


The biggest selling point about PPC is the position of the ads in search. Paid ads appear on the top of the search results, always above the organic listings, which is great for small businesses that don’t have the capacity nor the time to work on their organic presence. Paid dominates above-the-fold content, typically placing four ads on desktop and three on mobile above all organic search results. Even if the user scrolls down, paid ads will always be displayed in front of them. If you’re interested in earning some quick wins and making sure that certain individuals acknowledge your brand’s existence and proposals – paid marketing is the way to do it.


PPC provides businesses with a more direct approach to marketing, allowing them to promote sitelinks, locations, pricing and bullet points that they want users to see. It’s great for selling products and its a lot easier to control budget-wise than any other form of digital marketing. It’s also quite simple to calculate your ROI and see what you’re getting for your money, which isn’t always the case when it comes to SEO and content marketing.


PPC ads are just advertisements. As such, they are solely focused on delivering a certain message. Unlike content marketing or SEO, PPC alone cannot help you create authority online. It is only a way to build awareness and inform targeted groups of people about the deals you have to offer.


2. Content Marketing


Content Marketing is quite popular today. A lot of small businesses are investing in some sort of content marketing because it is one of the most cost-effective solutions for spreading the word about their business.


For most small to medium-sized entrepreneurs, the pricing part is a huge benefit. If you want to make your content work for you, all you really have to do is pour your time and expertise into blogging. For the majority of these types of businesses, time is the only resource they have at their disposal, so content works perfectly for them.


As the research shows, 70 percent of today’s shoppers are far more interested in learning about a certain brand or business through an article, than through paid media. Modern Internet users don’t really like being sold to. They despise all types of aggressive sales tactics. More than 200 million Internet users today have some sort of an ad-blocking software installed on their computers. As HubSpot reports, 64 percent of these ad-blocker users see ads as intrusive and annoying. They don’t want to engage with them because they feel that most ads are not relevant enough. A significant number of online shoppers, especially in the B2B world, use content to learn more about products and services they’re thinking of buying. Content helps them decide which products and services to buy, and which to skip.


Unlike PPC or SEO, content marketing doesn’t require a ton of money or help from experts in order for it to work. Every small business can make their content successful, if they truly take this form of marketing seriously enough. Quality content does wonders for brands. It builds authority, generates intelligent website traffic, and brings in more leads, without costing you a lot of cash.


3. SEO


SEO is quite similar to content marketing. They are complementary practices that should always come in the same package. Without SEO, your content won’t be that effective, and without content – your SEO cannot really get to shine. Search engine optimization is quite a profitable practice, great for charming and engaging desired groups of Internet users to click on your links in search and eventually conduct one of the desired actions on your website. As the statistics show, SEO is the no.1 channel for generating quality traffic. According to numerous studies online, it is 300 times better than social media when it comes to getting the right type of users to the right type of pages.


Even though SEO as an industry is already huge as it is, most marketing professionals believe it’s getting even bigger. A lot of today’s marketers are advising their clients to allocate bigger chunks of the overall marketing budget to this particular form of marketing.


Unlike PPC and badly-optimized content – SEO creates lasting results. Even though it requires a lot more time to work, a quality SEO campaigns keeps on giving, while pay-per-click stops working the very second you stop pouring money into your account. The moment you stop paying for ads, it all goes south. You lose all of your positions.


SEO doesn’t work like that. Even if you stop investing in SEO, your rankings won’t immediately fade into oblivion. Sure, you might go down a couple of positions over time, thanks to what your competitors are doing, but once you earn those first page listings – you are likely to stay there for a significant amount of time.


The only downside to SEO is that is requires a lot of time and dedication. It’s an ever-evolving and ever-growing field that tends to scare off people who aren’t really up to date with everything that’s happening in this industry. Designing and deploying intelligent SEO campaigns is hard for most businesses. It requires time, dedication, experience, and the manpower necessary to put all plans into action. Most small companies don’t have that, so their in-house SEO efforts often fall short. Outsourcing your SEO to an agency that’s specialized in that kind of thing is the right call here.


Closing Words


Thank you for taking the time to read this article. As you have already see from everything written above, all these practices bring different things to the table and none of them should be excluded from your overall marketing strategy. A healthy mix of content marketing, SEO and PPC can undoubtedly elevate your business to unimaginable heights. Even if you currently don’t have enough funds to pursue every single one of these practices, you should do your best to include them in your company’s future marketing plans.

Dan Radak

Dan Radak is a web hosting security professional with ten years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of online security, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and regular contributor to Technivorz.