The Marathon and the Sprint: How SEO and PPC Work Together for Small Businesses

The Marathon and the Sprint: How SEO and PPC Work Together for Small Businesses
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By Claudio Sorrentino

If you’ve ever done any research into digital marketing or, perhaps more likely, have been approached by digital marketing companies wanting your business, you’ve probably come across two acronyms over and over: PPC and SEO. These two tools can have an incredible impact on your small business when used correctly. But that’s the trick: using them correctly.

In general terms, pay-per-click, or PPC, is a sprint to get more business quickly. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a marathon for long-term growth. For either to be effective, you’ll need to spend a little money. But where should you focus your attention? The answer is between you and your marketing team. However, you can better create a strategy once you understand the pros and cons of each:

PPC (Pay Per Click): The Sprint

If you don’t have an adblocker software on your browser, do a quick Google search for a description of what your company provides. (If you do have an adblocker on, just search in an incognito window or its equivalent.) See those results at the top that have a green “ad” logo next to them? Those are PPC results. Companies who sponsor those results pay a certain amount every time one of those links are clicked.

With PPC, your website can easily appear at the top of the search results if you target the right keywords and pay enough money. It works as a bidding system, so those who can afford to pay the most get the top spot. This can easily become a massive money drain if your PPC campaigns aren’t handled correctly, especially if you are targeting a common keyword (like “plumber in New York”) or a nationwide keyword (like “freight shipping services”).

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): The Marathon

SEO is a slow burn that, when implemented correctly, will keep you near the top spot of organic (that is, not paid) search results. There are a variety of different SEO techniques out there, from writing quality content to executing proper schema. But one thing’s for sure: A misstep could cost you dearly. While you can learn PPC through trial and error without it being (too) costly, SEO should be handled by someone who knows what they’re doing.

The biggest drawback for SEO besides its complicated nature, however, is how long you may have to wait to see results. Google’s algorithms are finicky, to say the least. While some companies see their search results ranking climb in a matter of weeks, other campaigns may take months on end. The key is patience. If you are working with a qualified SEO expert, trust their guidance; they know what they’re doing.

Which Should You Choose?

For my small business and many others, the best path forward is a combination of PPC and SEO. They both have great value when used correctly. SEO can be used to help you climb through the rankings and PPC can simultaneously boost your business while you wait. Once you’ve reached your desired position in organic search rankings, you’ll need to decide if it’s worth keeping the same budget for a PPC campaign.

Every business, even within the same industry, has unique marketing needs. If you aren’t sure where to start with SEO and PPC, call around to different digital marketing agencies (that have good reviews!) and see what their recommendations are. Whether you choose to work with them or not, you’ll at least have a good starting point for your campaigns.


Claudio Sorrentino is the CEO of Body Details, one of the nation's fastest growing cosmetic laser service provider recognized by Inc 5000.

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