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SEO vs SEA: how to bring traffic to your website?

One of the challenges you must face as a business owner is how to bring traffic to your website. Best ways to pull your target audience to our website is through SEO and SEA. We hear about these terms so often, but what do they mean?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the practice of increasing the visibility of your website by optimizing how it appears on the search engine results page (organic or un-paid traffic). It also includes both On-page and Off-page optimization.

SEA stands for search engine advertisement. It also called PPC that stands for Pay-per-click. SEA consists in paying search engines to include your website on top of the result page for specific queries (i.e. specific keywords searched by users).

Both play a very important role in bringing traffic to your website. The most popular search engine is Google, which is why most SEO tactics focus on making your website appealing by Google standards (and its algorithm). On the other hand, Google also has its own tools for SEA purposes which is Google Ads. So, SEO vs SEA: which strategy would be the best way on getting traffic, paid or organic? Let us dig deeper. We will go over the pros and cons of each strategy on several criteria.

1. Visibility on search result page


With SEA, your ads will be shown on top of organic results. Their appearance is prioritized on the search result page because businesses pay to appear on top for specific queries (targeted keywords). Related ads will be ranked on the search result according to the bidding price of the targeted keywords. If you are the highest bidder of a certain keyword, you will appear on the top of search engine result page (SERP) for that keyword.

SEO, on the other hand, is more complex and is a practice that takes more time for your website to rank in the first SERP. It requires the right content to attract user’s attention, but also well-placed keywords to be relevant to the search engines for specific queries.  You can use free SEO tools to help for your website audits and keywords research such as, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Moz and others. These tools will also provide plenty of useful pieces of information to help improve your rank and visibility.

2.Length of strategy implementation


With SEA you can fully optimize your campaigns with recommendations given by Google Ads. You still need to set up the campaigns, ad group and etc in your account. After finishing all the basic account set up, Google Ads will assist you on optimizing the biddings and budgets and related keywords for your campaigns to perform better. This way, you can build your own strategy and implement the recommendations provided to grow your website traffic.

SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy that requires long-haul energy for brainstorming and experimenting in order to achieve the best results, organically. To optimize your digital marketing strategy, you need to set up your objective and frequently analyse your actions and progress to reach the organic top of the SERP. Even if it is a long-term strategy, your content should stay relevant to users and search engine, by using updated keywords that you wish to target. Keep your content fresh! Do make sure your website does not get any penalty from the search engine by using any illegal digital marketing practices. In case it does, it will take time for the Google algorithm to recover, jumble up the search result list and rank your website accordingly.

3.Reach of the target audience


SEO vs SEA: these tactics use different strategies to reach your target audience. Google ads has a specific feature for you to customise your audience. Implementing this feature is easy and helps you reach the defined targeted audience. The ability to choose your audience based on demographics and interests prevents you from spending budget on an audience that may not interested in the nature of your business.  In marketing, it’s a push strategy and really good for your brand awareness.

In SEO, we use various types of content (visuals, copywriting, and videos) to attract the audience interest. It’s a pull strategy, and the goal is to develop a recurrent audience & develop brand loyalty. Users might come back because of the content you provide or to discuss the topic with others. But for them to find you, carefully choose the keywords you insert in your content.

The combination of both strategies will strengthen your ranks in the search result page for specific queries. If you are on top of the first result page organically, it will gain the user trust with accurate information and attract them to click on your website. Based on a marketing report, 75% of user do not scroll past the first page of search results. With that in mind, the competition for the first page ranking is fierce.

4.Cost related


There is a reason that SEA is known as Paid ads. Businesses need to pay some fee for every user clicking on their ads on the SERP. This is called Cost-Per-Click (CPC). The CPC of each of your ads will depend on how high the demand is for the keywords you wish to buy. This shows how costly it can be to carry out this strategy. You should get a good outcome with a proper set up in Google Ads, but the cost to bring traffic to your website may or may not be profitable: it depends on how the traffic can be converted into sales.

On the other hand, SEO brings down the cost as you do not need to pay for each click that brings user to your website. But that does not mean you do not have to pay a dime for it. Instead, you do need to allocate budget if you decide to hire SEO expertise or use paid SEO tools. If not, it will consume a lot of time and effort to rank on top of search result, but you can keep the cost to pretty much nothing. It is harder to implement compared to SEA tactics, but not impossible to achieve.

Overall, it is tricky to choose only one tactic to bring traffic to your website. As you understand, both practices have their pros & cons (and a specific purpose):

  • Doing SEA can generate valuable information to optimize your strategy. SEA can be reliable and profitable for companies that are seeking for a quick outcome, traffic, and conversions.
  • Building better SEO takes persistence and creativity. Google algorithms change frequently and to maintain your positioning and ranking will take time and effort, but the outcome is worth it.
  • SEA is a paid tactic and SEO is a non-paid tactic.

SEO and SEA are complimentary to each other, just like push & pull marketing strategies. Therefore, you should consider including both tactics in your strategy to achieve your objectives. It should not be SEO vs SEA but SEO & SEA.

Have you been struggling on creating and implementing the right strategy for your website? Learn more about our clients’ projects and how our experts can shape the solutions to reach your digital goals. Interested to start a project together? Contact us now for more information.

Nureen Syamina Roslan

A fresh grad from UiTM Johor and studied Business Management majoring in marketing.

Very eager to learn and experience new things. Never gives up on gaining more knowledge in every aspect she can. Expects great things and improving herself to be a better person gets her up to work every morning.

Born and raised in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. A second child from three siblings and the only lady in the family makes her tough and easy to adapt to the surroundings.

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