Deciding Between Direct Ads and SEO: What You Need to Know
A Closer Look at Direct Ads and SEO
Running an SEO agency in Singapore for 9 years, one of the questions people often ask me is, with all these digital marketing channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Ads, should they even consider hiring an SEO company?
The question is valid, especially for business owners and marketers who have to work with limited budgets and time constraints. So, let’s unpack this issue together. When I address this query, I like to first compare SEO with other common channels, such as Direct Ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and even viral marketing on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
Cost Implications and User Intent
The simplicity of Direct Ads is quite appealing. If you have a budget and know how to click a few buttons, your ads go live on Google or Facebook. However, what if your landing page is not up to par? You’ll find yourself spending money with zero returns. Contrast this with SEO, which is all about organic ranking. What sets search engine users apart from social media users is their intent. For this reason, I’m a strong advocate for first targeting search engines to capture an audience with explicit search intent. Now, in most cases that I’ve seen over my years in the field, SEO in the long run—say, about two years—tends to reduce marketing costs by 3 to 6 times, while maintaining similar or even higher levels of effectiveness.
Strategic Choices: Timing and Business Goals
New vs. Established Businesses
Certainly, if you ask me whether to go for Direct Ads or SEO, the choice isn’t as straightforward as you might think—it really depends on the current state and needs of your business.
The Immediate Needs: Why Direct Ads Are a Good Fit for New Companies
For new companies just entering the market, Direct Ads are often the better option. Why? Because new businesses usually need quick cash flow to fuel growth. Waiting six to twelve months for SEO to climb the Google rankings just isn’t feasible when you’re starting out. During this period, you’ll be incurring costs without seeing any significant return on your marketing budget. So, in such situations, my personal advice would be to opt for advertisements. They might cost more on a per-click basis, but they bring in leads fast. With a well-designed website and compelling sales copy, you can quickly turn those clicks into customers.
When Time Is of the Essence: Direct Ads for Seasonal Campaigns
The same logic applies if you’re running a time-sensitive campaign, say for a seasonal offer that lasts only three months. Direct Ads offer the speed you need.
The Long Game: Why SEO Is the Ultimate Strategy for Industry Leadership
If your aim is to become an industry leader or achieve sustained growth, then SEO is your best friend. Think of Direct Ads as manually scooping water from a well to serve a village. It’s effective but labor-intensive. On the other hand, SEO is like building a pipeline from a reservoir directly to the village. Yes, it takes six to twelve months to set up properly, but once it’s done, you have a consistent, reliable source of leads and traffic. It’s a long-term solution that pays off substantially in the end. And once you’re at the top, the view is great; you tend to stay there and reap the benefits over a longer period.
The Dual Approach: Can You Use Direct Ads and SEO Together?
Absolutely, if your budget allows it. I’ve worked with clients in Singapore who effectively run both strategies simultaneously. They use Direct Ads for immediate cash flow and then reinvest the profits into a robust, long-term SEO strategy. This dual approach keeps the cash coming in while you’re laying down the groundwork for sustainable, long-term growth. It’s like having a team to scoop water from the well for immediate needs, while another team works on constructing the pipeline for the future. That’s maximizing your growth potential right there.
SEO Management: In-house or Outsourced To An SEO Agency?
The Complexity of SEO and Cost Variations
To make the decision-making process a bit clearer, let’s compare choosing between handling SEO in-house and outsourcing it to an SEO agency with the decision of hiring either an interior designer or a renovation contractor for your home remodel. When you engage an interior designer, you’re essentially paying for a full package—someone who coordinates everything, oversees the entire project, and ensures quality. You pay a premium for this convenience, but it provides peace of mind and more free time on your end. This is much like hiring an SEO agency, where you pay for expert services that cover all aspects of SEO, from strategy to implementation, and even ongoing adjustments.
On the other hand, going the contractor route for your home means you need to be directly involved. You would need to liaise with various parties, coordinate different aspects of the projects, and even perform your own quality checks. This approach is comparable to managing SEO in-house. It requires a hands-on approach and a significant time investment. Plus, you’ll have to have a certain level of expertise to ensure you’re really getting the job done right. If you’re up for the task, this option could potentially be more budget-friendly, but it could also lead to subpar results if not managed properly.
So, in a nutshell, whether you go with an SEO agency in Singapore or choose to keep it in-house depends on several factors—your expertise, time availability, and budget considerations to name a few. Choose the option that aligns best with your specific circumstances.