Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a few decades, you’ll know that marketing disciplines like SEO and PPC are an important aspect of thriving in any post-internet business landscape. 

While SEO, PPC, and other methods have been cornerstones to some of the most successful digital marketing campaigns of some of the largest brands in the world, if your business is still in its infancy, you may be wondering whether or not investing in these marketing tactics is a smart move from a financial perspective. 

If your business model still has a way to go before it’s truly well-defined, and your cash reserves are mostly from your own bootstrapping or seed funding, using your resources wisely is obviously going to be a top priority. In today’s post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the key pros and cons for SEO and PPC for startups, and what these could mean for your business.

PPC Pros for Startups

PRO: It Offers Quick Results (When it’s Done Correctly!)

One of the most appealing things about PPC is that it promises quick results for anyone with the budget. “PPC makes it possible for you to appear at the top of Google page one so long as you pay for it”, states leading PPC agency KAU Media Group. “It’s an amazing and effective way to produce great ROI. But it’s not magic. Invest in the data. Numbers do not lie. Cutting corners and taking shortcuts costs more in the long run.” 

When you’ve got your bids set to outrank your competitors, your business will appear at the top of the SERPs where your target market looks for businesses like yours, giving you an immediate increase in traffic to your website, and hopefully an uptick in conversions.

One of the biggest hurdles in running a startup is the fact that no one really knows who you are, and it’s going to take some time to generate quality, organic traffic. By launching a PPC campaign, you’ll effectively be able to get around this issue from day one.

PRO: It Will Bring in Qualified Traffic While your Organic Traffic Builds

Another big pro of PPC is that it’s great at doing what SEO is intended to do: putting your brand in front of the right people. With a correctly managed PPC campaign, your website will enjoy an immediate increase in traffic from qualified prospects – people who have already taken that first step of searching for a business in your market on Google.

As we stated earlier, bringing in a decent flow of organic traffic in the early days of your business is tough, and while your brand’s reputation develops, a good PPC campaign can help tide you over until your SEO efforts start taking effect.

PRO: It Lets you Compete with More Established Brands

Having knowledge of the huge disparity between your resources and the giants of your industry can be disheartening when you’re a startup entrepreneur. Obviously, if you’ve just started a consumer tech company, then you’re going to have a long way to go before you have the resources to compete with Apple’s marketing campaigns. 

Having said that, with a well-rounded approach to PPC, you’ll still be able to snap up some of the market shares that the big names aren’t paying any mind. If your business is a footwear brand, for example, some huge, international brand might have a monopoly on the basic keyword “shoes”, but long-tail keywords like “sustainable formal shoes” might be left wide open for you to target. 

Even with the more competitive, high-volume keywords, targeting them at certain times of the day or through other qualifiers can let your fledgling company carve out a surprisingly valuable piece of the search market!

PPC Cons for Startups

CON: It Can be Expensive, Especially in more Competitive Markets

One of the most commonly cited reasons for startups holding off on PPC is the budget required to see any decent results from it. Paid search makes up a large proportion of most companies’ marketing budgets, and this isn’t expected to change any time soon.

With the huge intrinsic value of PPC marketing, companies with masses of resources are naturally going to take the lion’s share of visibility and clicks for the most valuable keywords, which leaves startups with limited options for expansion.

As we mentioned earlier, there are often ways around this obstacle. However, in some industries and niches, the sheer size of the resources held by big business competitors can mean that PPC isn’t a prudent investment until your brand gains more of a foothold.

CON: Potential for Low Intent Traffic

Though some startups will have great success right out of the gate with their PPC, this isn’t guaranteed by any means, especially in newer, burgeoning industries, for example, AI tools for niche applications.

For many businesses, getting good results from their PPC campaigns will be a gradual process, which will require running relatively under-funded, and not especially successful campaigns, then analyzing them to extract lessons you can use to hone future campaigns. 

If your resources are stretched as it is, you may not be able to afford this kind of slow-moving period characterized by low-intent traffic. Be sure to research the particulars of paid search for your industry before committing to a campaign.

SEO Pros for Startups

PRO: It Generates Highly Qualified Leads 

While PPC leads may not always be the most valuable, SEO by its nature is effective at attracting attention from the kinds of people who are already searching for a business like yours. 

Google has managed to dominate the search engine market by developing an algorithm that’s great at delivering the results people want. More and more, SEO tactics are characterized by an emphasis on user engagement signals, which basically means that the more you tailor your site to the demands of your audience, the higher you’ll rank in search engine results pages.

From general, technical steps like maximizing site speed and using user-friendly navigation, to publishing high-quality and valuable content made for a specific subsection of your target market, SEO is great at attracting valuable, qualified leads to your site.

PRO: It Improves the Navigation and Usability of your Site

Leading on from this point, SEO will not only help you rank higher on a page of given search results but will also ensure that when people land on your site, they’ll have a much more positive experience, which will stimulate word-of-mouth marketing and fortify brand loyalty.

At one time, anyone who could generate a few spammy links and stuff a page full of keywords could make it to the top of a SERP. Google has come a long way since then, and in 2022, businesses need to build a site that not only has plenty of keywords and quality backlinks but also provides an all-around positive experience that will keep people using Google as their go-to search engine.

PRO: It Ensures Sustainable, Long-Term Growth

Though SEO can take a while to get going compared to PPC, it’s also a sustainable, long-term marketing solution that won’t pull the rug from under you. Search is a massive part of the modern buyer journey in any industry, and this is only going to be more true as we move into the future. 

Taking care of all the content, links, and maintenance that’s needed to get a site up to those top spots in Google will take a long time, but once you’re there, it will take an equally long time for a competitor to drag you down again. 

Furthermore, while the volume for certain PPC keywords can fluctuate hugely from one week to the next, as long as you follow Google’s philosophy of providing value to the end-user, SEO presents a dependable route to sustainable, long-term growth.

Three Benefits of PPC and SEO working together

Of course, PPC and SEO aren’t mutually exclusive, and there are many advantages to taking an approach to digital marketing that leverages both PPC and SEO…

1. More Consistent Ranking

As Google’s algorithm changes over time, search engine results can be re-shuffled with no notice at all, potentially causing drops in organic traffic. PPC, on the other hand, is much more cut-and-dry: you make a competitive bid for a certain keyword, and then you rank for it. 

This can be used to ensure a more consistent ranking over time, as when Google decides to shunt your organic results down a few positions, you’ll have your PPC bids ready to pick up the slack, and effectively regain your higher rankings.

2. Increase Points of Entry

Another great advantage of taking a combined approach is that it will increase the potential points of entry through which customers can access your site from a SERP, giving them both a paid result and an organic result for increased visibility. This is especially useful for those tricky long-tail keywords where your organic position tends to yo-yo.

3. Larger Data Pool to Analyze

Another big advantage of using both SEO and PPC is that it will expand the pool of data you have available, giving you greater insight on the way users behave when searching for businesses like yours. Your PPC analytics can inform your SEO work and vice versa, leading to all-around better performance via search marketing.

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide to SEO and PPC has helped you make the right calls when strategizing your startup marketing strategy. For more support with PPC, be sure to check out our wealth of news, strategy guides, and tutorials on PPC Hero!