Are you confused whether you should pursue SEO or get a jump start with PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising) for your affiliate marketing business? Is this massive decision secretly stopping you from taking action? And are you trying to read as many articles as you can so you have the most information possible about both topics? And that will help you decide whether you want to go with SEO or PPC with your affiliate marketing business?
Well, good news for you my friend.
Today you will only need to read 1 article and that will help you decide which one you should choose. And if you are still wondering which article, it’s this one J
You see, after experiencing the SEO industry for half a decade, I have realized that when SEO is done well, it always delivers much better-targeted traffic at a better cost per lead than PPC. That’s just the fact.
But here’s the other side of the coin: It can be pretty hard for new businesses to get started with SEO. And if they want to fast track their progress, they can choose to go the PPC route if they do it correctly.
So by now, you might be realizing where I’m headed with this.
It all depends on your current situation and what your digital marketing strategy is.
But right off the bat, I will say this, combining both of these things will definitely give you a much better result. But then again it all boils down to your budget and how much you are willing to spend on marketing that affiliate product. If you are confused whether it will be profitable or not, make sure you check out this article in which I break down the math.
So, what I’m going to do, is help you decide the good ole’ Pros vs Cons way.
I will list down the pros and cons of both methods. And if you find more pros than cons in one method, then you pick that one and run with it.
SEO vs PPC
Before we dive headfirst into this, I want to make sure that both of us are on the same page about what SEO and PPC mean.
PPC is the ads that you see on top of the page whenever you search for something. These are the ads that are placed above the organic listing that can be influenced by SEO.
Any traffic that you receive via PPC campaigns, you will have to pay for each click.
Any traffic that you receive via SEO is free.
Now that both of us are on the same page, let’s jump right into it.
Here we go.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
So what are the pros and cons of receiving free traffic from Google? It might sound like heaven where there are rainbows all day long and in the night you don’t need a blanket but it’s mildly cold. That’s the weather that we all love, don’t we?
But trust me, the weather is always changing like the real world.
So, let’s begin with the pros about this amazing traffic getting method:
You will be getting visibility from the keywords that you target. But it is nothing different than if you were to go the PPC route. Both of these methods will give you almost the same amount of brand awareness. But one will last you longer even if you decide not to spend any money on marketing.
And I’m talking about SEO here.
When people start seeing your brand for multiple commercial and informational search terms that are related to your niche, it will have a massive positive branding effect. The first thing that will happen is that people will start to associate your brand with that niche. And they will also start considering you as an authority.
And once that happens, they will start to consider your website as the one-stop-shop for everything related to that niche. And that means they will start buying from you.
Increased Market Credibility and Trust.
A ton of people use ad blockers so they don’t have to deal with pesky ads messing with their browsing session. And if there are people who are not using ad blockers, they just skip right through the ads and see the listings in the organic rankings.
And by having your website in the organic results can heavily influence the credibility and trust among your audience. By just being there without having to advertise is almost like a credibility stamp. The stamp that you have done the hard work to rank there and that they can trust you.
Increased Website Traffic.
Obviously, the biggest benefit you will receive by ranking on page 1 for your target keyword is that you will start receiving more traffic. But this will also give you buyers more opportunity to find reasons about why they should buy from you and not from your competitors.
Return on Investment (ROI).
With SEO, the ROI can be massive. After the upfront investment of getting your website on page 1, you only need very little maintenance to ensure that your website stays there. Most of the time it is a lot less than what you would spend on PPC.
That is the reason why you might see someone making over a 100% ROI from their SEO efforts.
I know that in my previous point I just mentioned how massive the ROI is. But I have to break it to you, SEO is not cheap. And it is certainly not as easy as you think. However, if you can manage to get over the massive learning curve, you will see that SEO is much more cost effective than any other advertising method out there.
If it is relevance and traffic that you are looking for in a cost-effective manner, SEO is the way to go.
That is if you have the patience.
With SEO, you will never lose your rankings the moment you stop paying. You don’t have the same option with PPC.
What this means is that even if your business cuts back its marketing budget, you can still sustain those rankings you worked so hard on.
A Better click-through rate (CTR).
It is true that you will generally see a lot more people visit your website through organic rankings than through a paid advertisement. However, it is possible that in some niches this might not be true.
If you think that in the coming years you might be able to dominate almost every keyword in your niche, think again. There are so many new queries that people use to search things almost every day. And to dominate them, you will need to have a strong organic presence because you do not have a credit card with no limit.
So instead of paying for every new keyword that you come across, why not have better keyword optimization on your website and organically dominate it?
A Very Strategic Advantage.
The best part about SEO is that it is never quick, nor easy. Both of them are good and bad.
Bad because if you are promoting an affiliate product and building a new website from the ground up, it will take a lot of time before it can start receiving any significant traffic from search engines.
But the good thing is that once you are established on page 1, your competitors cannot just buy their way into the organic results. So most probably they will use PPC or Paid Search, which means they will be getting lesser traffic anyway.
However, by the looks of the pros above, it may seem like it truly is a heaven in the SEO world. But it isn’t.
For starters, it is highly possible that for the keywords that you might target, you already have a ton of competition. And if you see Goliaths like Amazon, eBay, etc. then it is a better idea to go for a different keyword altogether because it can easily take years to outrank them.
Another con about SEO is that you will need a lot of content in order for your website to reach the level of credibility that you desire. And in 90% of the cases, new affiliate marketers do not have the resources to tackle this issue.
Another issue is that it is highly difficult to master the techniques of link building that will sustain through the coming years. Because Google is constantly changing their algorithm, you will need to make sure that you rankings stand the test of time. And in most cases, you will need expert support to achieve that.
The last con about this method is that a ton of traffic from this method comes in the form of pre-purchase queries. This means that the person has not yet made the decision whether he/she wants to buy that product. And they are currently doing the research to make the final decision.
But if you can manage to get them through the process by nurturing them and helping them along the way, you can close them. But then again, that will need content on your website from point A all the way to point Z where the person will decide to make the purchase.
However, that approach may not work for all the businesses out there.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising
We saw how well SEO can work if you have the budget and the patience to see your hard work come to fruition.
Now let’s see what PPC has to offer and how well it stacks in the face of SEO.
Prime Screen Real Estate.
That might sound like a mouthful but let me explain. With paid search, your ads will dominate all of the content that is shown above the fold. This means, your ads will be the first thing the person will see when they search for something.
Even if they decide to scroll past the ads, your ads will still be getting the highest exposure and a higher chance of getting a click.
More Control = Better Ads.
At the end of the day, PPC is a form of advertisement. Which means that you have control over everything a person may see.
From your marketing message and bullet points to locations and calls-to-action, you control everything. Your ads will be shown exactly the way you want them to be seen.
You Can Even Have Visual Product Ads.
This is rarely possible with SEO. But with PPC, you can sell a product and Google will show the person the image of your product above the organic rankings. This not only helps grab the attention of the person, it also shows them what they are clicking on.
This can boost your click-through rate like nothing else.
With paid advertisements, people will always see your ad. Even though they might just scroll past, they will see your ad and that is more than enough. Because if they are constantly seeing the same website for the searches that they are conducting, they will soon start recognizing your website.
And it won’t be long when they start searching specifically for your website with your brand name.
If you are running on a very tight budget, welcome to the boat, my friend. Almost every affiliate marketer is running on a tight budget that they cannot exceed. If they exceed, they will have a loss.
And that is the reason why with PPC you can set your daily budget and how much you are willing to pay on a per-click basis.
Once your daily budget is spent, the ads and paused until the next day.
This way you are never spending more than you’re comfortable spending.
Laser-Target Your Ads.
You can laser target your ads according to the type of your potential customers. With search advertising, you can not only target by specific keywords. You can also target them by language, the day of the week, time of the day, the device they are using and even based on things they have previously visited.
This is something you do not get with SEO. SEO is more like a blurred target in comparison to PPC.
SEO can take months and sometimes even years to start yielding results. But with PPC, you can get started in minutes and start ramping up your ads in just a matter of weeks. And before you know it, you are making affiliate sales hand over fist.
PPC is simply the fastest way to get in front of your customers and offer them what they want.
With speed comes blazing fast feedback.
Looking to test out your new product? Maybe it’s a new marketing message that you would like to test out before spending a ton of money on it. PPC is the way to go. It can get you feedback in just a matter of hours if you’re running a short campaign.
When you’re doing keyword research for SEO, you are never given the exact amount of volume or data about those keywords. They are mostly hidden between a certain range or completely hidden in the name of privacy.
But there is no such thing when it comes to PPC. You can know exactly how much money you are spending to convert that lead and at what percentage. Thanks to smooth integrations between conversion tracking and analytics (like Google Analytics), you can track all of that and optimize your campaigns and budget accordingly.
Split Testing Like Crazy.
Oh if this isn’t the true fun than what is?
With PPC you can A/B test the hell out of your ads, landing pages, calls-to-action, you name it. You can test everything that is in your ad and outside your ad.
You get information in just a matter of hours about how things are working, and you can further optimize everything and start testing again.
It is possible to do the same thing with SEO, but at a higher risk.
Remember I said in the SEO section that one needs to be a master at link building? This is where it meets uncertainty.
Google keeps updating their algorithm for organic results. But the changes in their Adwords platform are much less often and they often do not carry the same consequences as SEO.
If you face turbulence with the new updates in the Adwords algorithms, you can easily manage them.
Despite the popular belief, it is possible to run PPC ads without having to break the bank. You just have to target and run your ads in a specific way with a small set of keywords and a highly targeted geographic area. You will find that you can easily generate more than enough leads/sales from that.
And over time, you can further optimize your campaigns and drive down the costs even more.
And now PPC might the one looking like it has all sunshine and rainbows out here. But then again, there is always a time when the sun has to set.
The first thing you have to worry about is that PPC can easily get expensive. While this is not always the case, it can easily become one if you are not careful. Not only that, your daily budgets can also add if you do not plan everything.
On top of that, if you are targeting entire countries, or running international campaigns, you should prepare yourself to receive a huge bill. Or you won’t see any meaningful results.
PPC is a pay-to-play game. It requires constant investment if you want to see an ROI. Once you stop paying for the ads, they go away and so does your lead-gen machine. As long as you keep the lead-gen machine well-oiled with your money, you shouldn’t have any issues.
But when you compare this with SEO, it will seem like a bad deal. Obviously, you will have to keep spending some money on SEO in the form of maintenance to keep your competition away from taking your spot, but it is usually much lesser than what you might end up spending on your PPC campaigns.
When it comes to search marketing, you will definitely end up in some bidding wars with other advertisers. And this can easily increase the amount of resources you would have to spend.
You should also know that when you are advertising, you are effectively taking a spot of the other advertiser. And by doing so, your PPC costs might increase.
In hindsight, PPC is very easy to imitate. When an advertiser sees that you are running an ad for a particular keyword, they will start running ads as well. Not only that, they can imitate your marketing copy as well.
And if that’s something you don’t like, prepare yourself for this one – they can also evaluate and copy your entire marketing funnel as well.
This is just the marketing landscape that we live in right now. And if you are not happy with that, maybe it is better to choose SEO.
If you want to successfully run PPC campaigns, you need to make sure that your ads are perfectly optimized and the accounts are properly maintained. By this, I mean monitoring your bids, the click-through rates, positions of your ads and also maintaining the Quality Scores of your ads.
It is possible to manage some of those things with scripts, but if you get lazy in this area, you can say goodbye to your entire marketing budget.
Conclusion: Which is better? SEO or PPC?
At the end of the day, it all depends on your unique situation and how would like to start marketing your affiliate products. It all depends on what your vision is for this project and what do you need right now.
If you want to quickly get some sales, then you can go ahead with PPC and start creating campaigns.
But if you have a more long-term approach in mind, and you have the patience to see your website slowly crawl its way to the top, then SEO will be the perfect method for you.
Remember, before you make the final decision, it all boils down to your short-term and long-term goals. Based on that, you can make a clear digital marketing strategy and see which option suits you best.