SEO vs. PPC Marketing: How Can SaaS Companies Leverage Both?

by Outranking
Updated On: October 18, 2023
SEO vs. PPC Marketing: How Can SaaS Companies Leverage Both?

When it comes to SaaS companies, a common question arises among marketers: should we focus on search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing? The answer isn’t always straightforward, but insights from various studies show that SEO can yield higher conversion rates, whereas PPC marketing can deliver a quicker return on investment (ROI).

But what exactly sets these two strategies apart, and how can your company benefit from both? In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of both approaches, while also exploring how you can strike a balance in your marketing strategy.

Understanding SEO and PPC Marketing

1. What is SEO?

Search engine optimization, most commonly referred to as SEO, is the process of fine-tuning your website to attract the attention of search engines. This helps your website organically rank higher on search engine result pages.

Ever wondered how to improve SEO for your website or how to do SEO yourself? Get started here!

The magic of SEO lies in its ability to keep your website visible long-term. When people search for a SaaS business or service, your website is the first they see at the top of the page, reeling in visitors, boosting conversions, and earning customer loyalty.

2. What is PPC Marketing?

Pay-per-click, or PPC, marketing is a strategy in which you pay search engines to show your website at the top of result pages. You pay the search engine every time a user clicks on your ad.

It’s important to note that PPC marketing is expensive. Furthermore, since it generates inorganic, or paid, traffic, potential visitors might distrust your website.

It’s easy for users to spot which results are the product of PPC marketing. Here’s an example:

Screenshot of Google search results for "digital marketing course", showing sponsored vs. organic results
Paid results display a “sponsored” label at the top

3. Why Do SaaS Companies Need Both SEO and PPC?

SaaS companies need to balance both SEO and PPC marketing strategies to realize benefits in their campaigns. Here’s why: 

  • Length of Sales Cycle: Given the longer sales cycle characteristic of SaaS companies, it’s crucial to maintain continuous customer engagement across multiple touchpoints. SEO and PPC are crucial for guaranteeing such engagement.
  • Market Visibility: Merging SEO and PPC ensures that your SaaS product stands out in a competitive digital marketplace.
  • Lead Generation: Strategic PPC campaigns, backed by careful planning and understanding of your industry and audience, can generate leads, boost website traffic, and enhance engagement without breaking the bank.
  • Long-term Investment: SEO is a slow but stable strategy for achieving long-term benefits. With organic search driving more than half of the web traffic, climbing the SEO ladder not only attracts organic traffic but also establishes your authority without additional advertising expenditures.
  • Dual-Action Strategy: SEO and PPC aren’t mutually exclusive; on the contrary, they complement and reinforce one another. For example, a startup might utilize PPC to highlight a new product or feature update. while simultaneously employing SEO through blog posts, videos, and other digital content to drive organic traffic and improve search engine results page (SERP) visibility.
  • High Return on Investment (ROI): Properly orchestrated PPC campaigns can yield high returns on investment. Coupling it with SEO, which offers sustained visibility and aids in brand-building, can be lucrative for SaaS initiatives.
  • Audience Awareness: Using both SEO and PPC ensures that your business consistently ranks high in searches, increasing awareness within your target demographic.

For maximized conversions, traffic, visibility, and brand authority, SaaS companies must leverage the combined power of SEO and PPC.

4. How to Combine SEO and PPC Together for Best Results

Rather than exclusively relying on either SEO or PPC, you can combine them to exponentially amplify your SaaS marketing outcomes. To seamlessly integrate SEO and PPC strategies, consider the following strategies:

  1. Sharing SEO and PPC Keyword Data: Correlating data from SEO and PPC can spotlight keywords that promise higher traffic and click-through rates. Platforms like Google Ads or Bing Ads offer PPC insights, while tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster provide SEO keyword metrics. Evaluating this combined data guides you in refining your keyword selection for both strategies, optimizing overall performance. 
  2. Aligning SEO and PPC Strategically: Rather than treating SEO and PPC as separate strategies, align them to effectively boost your online presence.
  3. Leveraging PPC Data for SEO: Use keyword and conversion data from your PPC campaigns to guide your organic search strategy, giving you a clearer understanding of which keywords are working best and how they could impact your organic search rankings.
  4. Balancing Coverage with SEO and PPC: Utilize PPC in geographic areas with weaker SEO coverage, so that you can still reach audiences through paid advertising even when your SEO isn’t as strong.
  5. Using A/B Testing: Before formalizing your organic listing and landing pages, evaluate your ad copy and pages using PPC. A/B testing lets you determine the most effective versions so that you can improve your SEO strategies.
  6. Leveraging Retargeting Strategies: Retargeting, or remarketing, ensures the brand recalls past initial organic search engagement. You can customize messages based on user interactions, enhancing potential customers’ experience and making them more likely to convert.
  7. Conducting Keyword Strategy Testing: Before finalizing your long-term SEO tactics, test your keyword strategies via PPC to ensure that they are backed by proven data.
  8. Targeting All Customer Journey Stages: Combine SEO and PPC strategies to target users at all stages of their journey, from research to purchase. Having both strong organic and paid visibility can increase your brand reach.
  9. Adjusting Strategies Based on Your Goals: Your ideal combination of SEO and PPC might evolve along with your business goals. This dynamic approach ensures optimal resource allocation. 

Blending the strengths of both SEO and PPC offers a holistic approach to online marketing, maximizing visibility and engagement. By harnessing these combined strategies, businesses can achieve increased results and create a robust digital presence. 

SEO vs. PPC for SaaS Companies: An In-Depth Comparison

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the differences between SEO and PPC for SaaS companies:

1. Targeting

  • SEO: SEO enables content and websites to attract users searching for them, regardless of their location; it’s optimal for reaching a broad target audience.
  • PPC: PPC targets specific demographic areas, making it ideal for region-specific awareness.

2. Tracking

  • SEO: Within SEO, numerous factors determine success in SERPs. When you change your on-page SEO or update technical aspects of your website, then notice a shift in rankings, it’s challenging to pinpoint whether the changes resulted from on-page adjustments or technical modifications. Although SEO tools provide insights into ranking shifts, they don’t always directly tie results to specific actions.
  • PPC: PPC tools are equipped to track all aspects of your campaigns comprehensively, making it simpler than SEO; PPC provides clear tracking for clicks, revenue, and conversion from each keyword. 

3. Speed

  • SEO: SEO involves a gradual process where you build topical authority by consistently delivering valuable content tailored to your niche. As trust in your website’s authority grows, backlinks proliferate, subsequently boosting organic traffic and website ranking.
  • PPC: With PPC, you place a bid on specific keywords to enhance clicks and conversions. Once you bid, and your site appears in the “Sponsored” section, people will start clicking on your website, yielding immediate outcomes.

4. Return on Investment (ROI)

  • SEO: SEO results are slow but worth the wait: it offers a long-term 6:1 ROI, meaning that, for every $1 spent, you stand to make $6 in return.
  • PPC: PPC is designed for quick results, but is less lucrative, with only a  3:1 ROI.

5. Keywords

  • SEO: Setting up your SEO strategy generally demands more time and effort; to ensure that your SaaS company ranks adequately, you’ll need to conduct thorough keyword research.
  • PPC: PPC doesn’t necessitate such detailed research; simply choose one keyword that’s relevant to your business, set your bid, and you’re ready to go!

6. Content Optimization

  • SEO: SEO is more difficult insofar as it involves content optimization; you’ll need to craft content that appeals to both search engines and human readers.
  • PPC: With PPC, content optimization isn’t a prerequisite, since your content is displayed irrespective of its level of optimization. 

7. Algorithm Updates

  • SEO: Search engines frequently update their algorithms. For SEO, you’ll need to keep abreast of these shifts, as well as the latest optimization techniques, so you can avoid potential ranking drops. 
  • PPC: With PPC, algorithm updates aren’t a concern. Strategies remain unaffected since outcomes largely hinge on keyword bidding.

8. Long-Term Results

  • SEO: SEO may not guarantee immediate top rankings, but persistence can lead to sustained SERP prominence and business growth.
  • PPC: PPC is oriented toward short-term gains. Results persist for as long as your bid remains competitive, but once your funds deplete, visibility and click rate can decrease. 
TargetingReaches a broad audienceTargets specific demographics
TrackingDifficult to determine specific causes for shiftsClearer, more precise tracking
SpeedResults build graduallyGenerates immediate outcomes
ROISlower, but higher, return on investmentFaster, but lower, return on investment
KeywordsRequires extensive researchRequires targeted keyword selection
Content OptimizationMandatory content optimizationOptimization isn’t essential
Algorithm UpdatesMust adapt to frequent updatesUnaffected by algorithm updates
ResultsDelivers long-term benefitsOffers short-term results
A graph showing SEO versus PPC traffic as time goes on
PPC achieves immediate results, but SEO provides consistent long-term benefits

Balancing SEO and PPC in your Marketing Strategy

When you’re creating a digital marketing strategy for your SaaS business, finding the right balance between SEO and PPC can dramatically influence results. Here’s how to strike that balance:

Step 1: Assess Your Business Needs

Understanding and balancing the needs of your SaaS business while using SEO and PPC marketing strategies can be daunting, but is necessary nonetheless. Both strategies are powerful tools for garnering online attention, attracting targeted traffic, and converting leads into customers. However, the decision to use SEO, PPC, or a combination of both depends on various factors related to your specific business needs and goals.

Before diving into either SEO or PPC, you need to ask yourself: what are your business goals? Do you want quick exposure or long-term results? Let’s break down how SEO and PPC address various SaaS business requirements:

  • PPC: Ideal for SaaS startups that possess sizable marketing budgets and are looking for immediate exposure. Through PPC, you can achieve pinpoint targeting, accelerating product awareness and lead generation. PPC provides quick results and allows you to measure and tweak campaigns for better performance.
  • SEO: It is essential for businesses that prioritize sustainable, organic growth to invest in a strong SEO strategy. This involves optimizing your website and content to resonate with search engines and users. Although SEO takes time, once your position is high on search engine rankings, the ensuing traffic and brand recognition are stable and long-lasting.

In essence, integrating both PPC and SEO would be the ideal approach. PPC immediately jump-starts your online presence, and SEO maintains organic growth over time.

Remember, this isn’t a static solution; you’ll need to continuously evaluate and adjust your strategies as your business evolves.

Step 2: Choose Keywords for Your Content Marketing Strategy

Choosing keywords while balancing SEO and PPC for your SaaS business’s content marketing strategy requires careful consideration of your business goals, budget, and time constraints. Here’s a quick way to make informed choices:

  • For PPC, prioritize keywords that have a high chance of conversion, even if they are highly competitive or costly. The potential returns can justify the investment.
  • For SEO, start by focusing on long-tail keywords: specific, multi-word phrases and clusters which will resonate with your target demographic. Since long-tail keywords are less competitive, they allow quicker ranking and site authority building. Over time, as your website gains more authority and credibility, you can target more competitive keywords.

The balance between SEO and PPC will naturally fluctuate. As your SaaS business evolves, continually refine and adjust your strategy with a combination of SEO and PPC to achieve the best results.

Step 3: Promote Website Content with PPC Advertisements

Promoting website content using PPC ads is crucial for SaaS companies’ marketing strategies. The allure? Immediate visibility paired with an influx of targeted traffic, promoting new user acquisitions and lead generation.

  • Immediate Traction: For nascent SaaS companies, carving out a significant digital presence can seem daunting. PPC campaigns can help by quickly driving potential customers to your website, which can help accelerate your sales trajectory.
  • Strategic Deployment: To effectively leverage PPC for your SaaS company, construct a strategy centered around your software products. Enhance your ads with engaging, keyword-enriched content that succinctly communicates your product’s features and benefits. This gives your audience clear insights into your offerings, potentially boosting conversions.
  • Long-Tail Keywords: For SaaS companies aiming to gain authority quickly, long-tail target keywords serve as an essential tool. These keywords are more specific and less competitive, allowing for faster ranking and boosting your website’s authority for more competitive keywords.

There isn’t a universal PPC approach for all SaaS companies. Success lies in ongoing optimization and experimentation. Test various strategies to understand what resonates best with your target audience and sustains PPC account longevity. As your company grows and diversifies, your PPC strategy should evolve simultaneously, ensuring you maximize your reach while effectively driving your product’s value.

While PPC might deliver immediate traction, SaaS companies should also focus on developing a robust SEO strategy for sustained organic growth. Ensuring a balance between PPC and SEO is the key to unlocking holistic, impactful digital marketing success.

Step 4: Harness Ads Data to Refine SEO Strategy

Integrating SEO and PPC into your SaaS business goes beyond just allocating budget and effort; it’s also about capitalizing on the insights drawn from both strategies to improve and refine your approach. Here’s how you can utilize ad-derived data to enhance your SEO strategy:

  1. Identify High-Performing Keywords from PPC Ads: The immediate metrics from your PPC campaigns can provide a wealth of data about which keywords are driving the most traffic and conversions. Identifying these high-performing keywords can help you optimize your website content and meta tags.
  2. Test Headlines and Meta Descriptions: The wording of your PPC ads can test for SEO metadata such as title tags and meta descriptions. Identify compelling ad copy with high click-through rates and incorporate similar phrasing into your SEO metadata to enhance organic engagement. 
  3. Study Demographic Data: PPC platforms, such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, provide detailed demographic information about your engaged users. Understanding user data, such as age, location, and preferences, can shape your SEO content strategy to resonate with your audience.
  4. Analyze Landing Page Performance: Analyzing the performance of your PPC landing pages can provide valuable insights about user preferences in design and content. Which pages have the lowest bounce rates? Which has the highest conversion rates? Use this information to optimize your organic landing pages, ensuring they’re set up for maximum user engagement and conversions.

Integrating SEO and PPC can propel your SaaS business growth. While PPC offers quick results and precise audience targeting, SEO solidifies your online reputation and fosters organic growth. Leveraging the power of both will enhance the overall effectiveness of your online marketing efforts, securing a competitive edge in your market.

Step 5: Leverage Retargeting Ads for Increased Engagement

As mentioned above, retargeting, or remarketing is a powerful online advertising approach that ensures your brand stays top-of-mind for potential customers, even after they’ve left your website. These ads prompt users who have performed specific actions, such as exploring specific products, adding items to their shopping carts, or visiting certain pages, to revisit and complete their user journey. 

To effectively integrate retargeting ads with your balanced SEO and PPC strategies, follow these steps:

  1. Compile Retargeting Lists: Start by determining which user segments you’d like to retarget, based on how they have interacted with your website. For example, you could categorize users who viewed a specific page separately from users who abandoned their carts.
  2. Incorporate Pixel Placement: Introduce a remarketing pixel, a small piece of code, onto your website. This tracking mechanism helps in monitoring user activities, setting the stage for retargeting.
  3. Design Compelling Ads: Create attention-grabbing ads that resonate with your target audience. The effectiveness of your ads plays a significant role in retargeting efforts, so consider investing in professional design and copywriting.
  4. Initiate Retargeting Campaigns: Once your ads are ready, start your retargeting campaigns on platforms like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads Manager. Familiarize yourself with the specifics of each platform before proceeding.
  5. Monitor and Optimize: As with any digital marketing strategy, regularly review the efficacy of your retargeting ads and make any necessary adjustments to maximize their effectiveness.

Balancing SEO and PPC strategies with retargeting ads is crucial for a comprehensive digital marketing approach. While SEO garners long-term, organic growth, PPC, inclusive of retargeting, provides quick results and drives immediate traffic.

An optimized blend of these elements can effectively boost brand visibility, and engagement, and foster robust growth for your SaaS business. Continual adjusting, based on performance metrics and evolving user behaviors, remains integral to the success of your balanced strategy. 

SEO vs. PPC: Key Statistics to Guide Your Decision

Both SEO and PPC are strong avenues for augmenting revenue for your SaaS business. To discern which should be your primary marketing focus, consider these statistics:

  • While PPC contributes to 27% of traffic, SEO leads with a substantial 53%. 
  • Visitors from PPC have a 35% higher conversion likelihood compared to those from SEO.
  • Search drives 39% of global eCommerce traffic, with 35% stemming from SEO and a mere 4% from PPC.
  • PPC visitors are 50% more likely to make a purchase than organic visitors.
  • 80% of users ignore sponsored Google ads.
  • 70% of users lean towards SEO as the better marketing strategy, whereas 30% favor PPC.

Key Takeaways

Scaling up a business is a challenging endeavor; to maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to harness and assess every possible marketing strategy for your SaaS company. Both SEO and PPC drive website traffic for countless businesses. With dedicated effort, strategic experimentation, and appropriate resources, you can succeed in them too!

How Outranking Can Help Your SaaS Business

Outranking is an AI writing, content editing, and content analysis software that can help you in creating SEO-optimized content. This enhanced content can boost your website’s profile and be promoted via Google Ads. By analyzing the top 20 SERP results for your keywords, Outranking offers strategic insights that can help you rank at the top.

Learn more about Outranking’s features from the following video: