Differences Between SEO & Performance Marketing
In this highly digital world, maintaining an online presence is a must-have for all businesses. If you want to market your products and services, you’ll need to be where your potential customers are: online. However, being online is one thing, but being visible and engaging with your target audience is a whole other challenge. But thankfully, there are different strategies that you can use to set yourself apart from the competitors and get the attention (and loyalty) of your target audience. Digital marketing, while fairly new compared to above-the-line marketing and public relations, is continuously evolving and finding new ways to help companies achieve their business goals. And the two most sought-after digital marketing strategies? SEO and Performance Marketing.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process or set of strategies that will help improve your site’s visibility through search engine rankings. Examples of search engines are Google, Bing, Baidu, etc. At its core, the main goal of SEO is to help your site rank highly in search engine results pages whenever users search for content or products using keywords related to your business. This helps increase visibility and traffic to your website.
What is Performance Marketing?
Performance marketing is a branch of digital marketing that’s been gaining momentum. Why? because it’s as straightforward as it sounds. Payment for this marketing strategy is based on performance. Companies will only need to pay marketing agencies or providers when a certain business goal is met. A business goal can be anything that’s measurable, like the number of clicks on a certain link or leads signed up by a user. This gives advertisers, especially those who want more value for their ad budgets, a more targeted and measurable marketing approach.
Now that we’ve had a brief overview of these two strategies, it’s time to get into their differences. While both strategies help build brand equity and awareness and eventually improve sales, they have different and specific benefits to offer businesses.
SEO & Performance Marketing: What are the Main Differences?
Key Performance Indicators or KPIs
One of the key differences between these two strategies is the metrics. They serve the general purpose of helping improve your company’s bottom lines through different means. SEO strategies are usually measured through the following main metrics:
- Keyword Click-Through Rate
- Organic Search Traffic
- Domain Authority
- Keyword Ranking
- And more
Performance marketing metrics vary per type of activity or depending on the goals set by the client and the digital marketing services provider. Here are some examples of performance marketing KPIs:
- Impressions or how many times an ad has been seen or shown (example: when a banner ad appears on a Google search results page)
- Cost-per-click or every instance a viewer clicks on an ad
- Cost-per-action or when the user accomplishes a desired action (examples: signing up for a newsletter, downloading a free resource, purchasing a product, etc.)
For those who watch their digital marketing spend like a hawk, they’ll most likely be concerned with how much digital marketing strategies cost and return. The cost of SEO activities can vary. A lot of times, it can actually be free! And by “free,” we mean it doesn’t include your own labor costs. SEO strategies like publishing relevant and engaging content, link-building, and guest posting won’t make a dent in your marketing ad budget. For the most part, all you need to invest in improving your authority and site ranking is your time, effort, and creativity. Performance marketing, on the other hand, will always have a cost as long as the desired action or “performance” is met.
The Relevant Platforms
SEO aims to boost website ranking on SERPs, typically through optimizing website and guest posts on partner websites. This is because, with SEO, you want to build credibility for your own website to earn the “trust” of search engines’ web crawlers. Make your website link-worthy by posting content that’s relevant to your target audience and authoritative enough that other sites would want to link back to it. DIY SEO is possible, but it’s best to consult a digital marketing agency for solid SEO strategy.
Performance marketing’s playing field is mostly outside of your own website or business platforms. It advertises your brand, products, or website on platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook, or even digital banner ads on mobile apps. As mentioned, these ads have different calls-to-action, or CTAs, ranging from a simple click that will lead to your website’s landing page to an actual purchase of the advertised product.
If you’re wondering which of these two strategies you should employ to help your business, the answer is both. Both strategies, when applied well, can help your business build awareness, increase sales, and establish customer loyalty. The good thing about these two approaches is that they’re both measurable. So it’s best to integrate both into your digital marketing campaign and measure these efforts regularly to fine-tune your digital marketing strategy.