By Samuel Thimothy, VP at

As an entrepreneur, you're probably familiar with SEO (search engine optimization). After all, it's one of the best ways to boost awareness about your brand and collect new leads. However, you probably also know how difficult it can be to rank highly on a search engine results page organically. It takes time for SEO to start working its magic, and even then, the competition is often very high.

Pay-per-click (PPC) or paid search is one way you can bypass the complexities of SEO and increase the number of leads you get in front of. However, PPC isn't right for everyone. Before you start spending money, you need to know how it can benefit you.

As the co-founder of an inbound marketing agency that offers SEO and paid search among other services, I'd like to dive into what paid search advertising really is and who it works best for.

What is paid search advertising?

Paid search, or pay-per-click, is a common form of advertising that allows businesses to pay to appear higher in search engine results lists. Because you only pay for each click, it can be very cost-effective.

However, with paid search, your PPC ads coincide with keywords. The more popular the keywords are, the more expensive a click will be. This means paid search can actually be very expensive for some brands.

Who should use paid search?

Many organizations will benefit from a paid search strategy. Not only can PPC ads help you get to the top of a search engine results page quickly, but it can do so without breaking your budget.

But PPC campaigns take a lot of time investment. They aren't something you can simply set and leave alone. Because you're bidding for that top slot, you need to stay active within the PPC marketplace to ensure you're getting your money's worth.

You also need to know how to reach your audience. Just like SEO, PPC is keyword-based. In order to reach your target audience and make your PPC strategy as effective as possible, you need to know what your audience is searching for. You still need to put in ample time to keyword research before beginning your campaign.

Is paid search right for my business?

Before you invest in a PPC strategy, here are a few things you'll want to ask yourself:

1. Am I struggling to reach the top of a search engine results page through SEO?

If you're already ranking highly with your SEO efforts, you may not need a PPC campaign -- especially if you're tight on budget. However, this might not be true if you're trying to expand into a new space.

Think about how quickly you need results. While you may want to reach the top of a results page by morning, it's not always necessary. If you can achieve your goals through SEO instead, you should consider that option.

2. Do I have the time and skill to do a PPC campaign the right way?

It's not worth it to create a half-there PPC campaign. If you're unable to put in the time and skill to properly research and develop a strong strategy, it may not yield the kind of results you are looking for. 

It's OK to put off a PPC campaign until the time is right. If it makes more sense to focus your time and energy in other directions, you should do so.

3. Do I have the budget?

As an entrepreneur or the owner of a growing business, it can be difficult to know where to invest your budget. PPC is one of the areas that you may be unsure of.

If you're tight on budget but in a costly PPC space, you may be able to get a better bang for your buck elsewhere. However, if your keywords aren't extremely expensive, a small budget can go a long way. It's important to analyze and measure results regardless of your choice.

Unlike SEO or content marketing, paid search isn't something that every company needs to be doing. Instead, it's a supplemental strategy that can deliver solid results for the right brands -- but could be a waste of time and money for others. Consider both the positives and negatives of developing a paid search campaign and evaluate if there is a better way to use your time.

Samuel Thimothy is the VP at, an inbound marketing agency, and co-founded, the digital marketing intelligence platform.