A fairly new addition to the modern recruitment marketer’s arsenal is the discussion about which online marketing tactic is more effective; pay per click (PPC) or search engine optimisation (SEO). To give you the clearest view on which investment is right for you, here are the pros and cons of PPC vs SEO.
What is the difference between PPC and SEO?
Let’s start with a clear definition of the two: PPC uses advertising programs such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads to allow you to bid on relevant keywords to enable your agency’s website pages to appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) for related searches. The more competitive a keyword is, the more it will cost per click. For example, bidding on “Legal Recruitment” is approximately £2.22 per click compared to “Legal Recruitment London” at £2.45 per click.
SEO is the process of achieving a high ranking on Google and other search engines “organically” or without paying directly. This is by following SEO best practice and having a strong website domain authority within your sector. Fundamentally, the more trusted and relevant your website page is to a specific query, the more likely it is to appear at the top of Google’s SERPs.
According to Enquisite, “87% of search engine investment is spent on PPC vs 11% spent on SEO.” A natural conclusion to draw from this is that because PPC is a lot more popular, surely it is the better option to choose. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Pros and Cons of PPC
Immediately drives traffic to key website pages. The moment you decide which keywords you wish to bid on and which website pages you want to drive visitors to, you can appear at the top of Google or Bing the very same day.
Hyper-targeted. By measuring how effective each keyword is at driving traffic, you can devote more budget to the keywords that drive the most conversions (which you can track through Google Analytics). As well as keywords, you can refine your PPC targeting by location, language and device. This means that if you are only interested in targeting candidates in certain geographical regions, you can increase the likelihood that a click-through will convert into a placement – thus optimising your PPC budget.
Bottom of the funnel. Paid search results are “1.5x more likely to convert click thrus from strangers into leads.” This is because you can target phrases that are much more likely, for example, to attract candidates who are ready to sign up to your agency. By bidding on the phrase “nursing jobs surrey”, you can reach people who are at the “bottom of the funnel” and therefore more likely to become a candidate and placement.
Retargeting and remarketing. An additional feature of Google AdWords is remarketing. Simply, this will show relevant ads to your past website visitors on other websites via the Display Network. To find out more about remarketing – read this in insightful blog.
Testing and measuring is simple. Google provides a number of easy-to-read metrics to allow you to measure your PPC results and make informed decisions. You can also A/B or split test different PPC ads to see which one generates better ROI. This will enable you to spend your budget as effectively as possible.
High cost. Due to the pay-per-click nature of Google AdWords, it is easy to see how having a weekly budget of just £500, which may attract between 100-300 clicks, could make a considerable dent in your overall marketing budget. For example “marketing recruitment agencies” is approximately £5.67 per click and “healthcare recruitment agencies” is £2.08. However, you can set daily and weekly allowances to make sure you don’t work through your budget too quickly.
Management and maintenance. Not only does it take time to learn how to deliver PPC campaigns effectively, if you want to make the most of it, you must monitor the results and make decisions about its value. Otherwise, you may as well be throwing your budget away.
Continuous investment. You may, initially, be pleased with the leads being generated from PPC but a simple fact about AdWords is that your spend today will only increase tomorrow. This is because the phrases you’re bidding on will only become more competitive, and therefore, more expensive.
The Pros and Cons of SEO
Free website traffic. Website traffic (or individual website visits) attracted via search engines organically doesn’t cost per click, so fundamentally, it is FREE. However, the true nature is that it does cost in time and resource both in making your website optimised for search engines and to write quality content for your website pages that rank highly in search engines.
Sustainable. Once you have valuable and relevant content, both on your website pages and in your blog posts, SEO, more or less, sustains itself.
Trust and credibility. The top organic search results command more trust and credibility because website users are aware that the top organic results are more likely to hold the answer they’re looking for – rather than selling them something. As a result of being more reliable and trustworthy, organic results are “8.5x more likely to be clicked on than paid results.”
Reliable investment. Although you will usually need to invest more resource in the beginning, SEO is long-term investment in your website and will pay dividends for your online marketing and brand for years to come. It is advisable to consult SEO experts during the redevelopment of your website but you can implement SEO best practice at any time.
Low maintenance (ish). SEO is essentially built on making it easy for Google to understand your website as quickly as possible. The more signals you send to Google and the more trusted those signals are – the more likely you are to rank highly. Once the SEO fundamentals are put in place at the very beginning, it requires low investment hereafter to maintain.
Established agencies hold an advantage. As mentioned earlier, SEO is all about trust and relevance. The more established your website is as an authority on the specific query being searched for, the more likely it is for your website to rank highly in results pages. This means that, initially, established agencies do hold an advantage over start-up agencies because they are more likely to have an established online presence.
Slow return on investment. The nature of SEO and the time it takes for Google to fully index your website means that it can take from 3-6 months before you see any measurable return on investment from your SEO efforts. However, if the content you have invested in is targeted, that will likely increase ROI exponentially over the years to come.
You may need expert support. If you do not have SEO expertise in-house, it is recommended to hire specialists who can implement and advise on the changes that need to be made. This will inevitably cost more depending on how much help your recruitment agency needs.
PPC Vs SEO – Which should you choose?
This choice completely depends on your marketing strategy and the urgency with which you need to see a return on investment.
If you are a small, startup recruitment agency operating in a specific location with a need to see quick ROI, you may want to initially opt for targeted PPC. This may be because your domain authority (i.e. the SEO score of your website) isn’t established yet, you are less likely to have produced as much relevant content on your website as established agencies so it would take a considerable amount of time and investment for SEO to have an impact and for your website to rank highly organically.
Whereas, if your website is well established, and you already rank moderately for valuable keywords, you would benefit from implementing SEO best practice and developing a content strategy to target the more longtail keywords that answer questions and provide solutions to candidates and clients during their research journey in finding the right agency for them.
Can you do both?
A blended approach to include PPC and SEO activity will, inevitably, cost you more. But, by combining the two, you can benefit from the pros, and reduce the cons, of both. Whilst you are implementing SEO best practice and creating content and improving your website page copy that is more likely to rank highly in search engines, you will still be attracting candidates and clients through PPC. And as your organic ranking and domain authority start to rise in 6 months time, you can begin to reduce your PPC budget and rely more on SEO.
By now, you will have a clearer idea about PPC and SEO, which activity is the best investment for your recruitment agency and what you can expect from both marketing tactics.
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