SEO vs PPC: Why Not Both?

There are two main ways to bring more traffic to your website: SEO (search engine optimisation) and PPC (pay-per-click). People are always asking if SEO or PPC is better but that question doesn’t have a general answer as it depends on your current objective, situation, and marketplace. Both work really well when executed properly. But which of them make the most sense for your business? Which should you focus on first?

While the outcome of both is basically the same, the way you get there will be different. On one side, SEO and organic search deliver plenty of volume at a lower cost per lead than paid ads. But new businesses can struggle to start with SEO in the beginning so paid search ads can offer a fast track to results. How you implement both will depend on your digital marketing strategy. You should always try to understand your customers and how they use the internet. This will tell you if whether SEO, PPC, or combination of both is the best strategy.

What is the difference?

The main difference between SEO and PPC is that traffic coming from SEO is organic and its free while PPC traffic is not free (pay per click). This is why you will see both organic search results with paid search ads on Google:


As you can see, PPC ads are above the organic search results. Where your PPC ad appears will depend on many factors like keywords in your ad copy, keywords you are targeting, keywords in your landing page, etc. so depending on that, it can be above or below organic results. The organic search consists of 10 results and where your website will appear will depend on how well your website is optimised in terms of on-page and off-page SEO.

Digital marketing is not a one-size-fits-all thing. The balance of SEO and PPC will vary from business to business. One business will notice that SEO brings them a lot of value and high-quality leads while other businesses will find that PPC gives them a big boost at the right time. Neither is wrong or bad but they are just different strategies that can be leveraged off of each other.

The Advantages of SEO

One of the main reasons why businesses use SEO is its cost-effectiveness. At the end, you’ll pay more for the traffic with PPC than with SEO. PPC can take a good budget to get a working campaign up and running. Plus, if you are totally new to it and are doing it by yourself, you’ll have to deal with a big learning curve, meaning it’ll take a while before you get your CPC to where you want it to be. With SEO, once you get the ball rolling, the traffic will be cheaper and if your marketing budget is minimal, SEO may be the best first thing to focus on.


SEO has a huge benefit that PPC doesn’t and those are the long-term results. Above you can see the difference in performance between PPC and SEO. SEO will start off slowly but as the time grows it’ll grow more and more. You can see that SEO is a more sustainable tactic which can keep bringing you good and quality traffic for many years to come. Organic traffic doesn’t call anything and you don’t need to pay for each click like you have to with PPC. Organic traffic is pretty much straight profit and returns are higher.

Even though organic traffic is free once it keeps coming in, a good SEO is basically not free. Unless someone is willing to take on months of free work for your site, good SEO is going to be an investment at least initially. Good SEO takes time and manpower so you must allocate your marketing budget to it to get it off the ground. Once your website is positioned on the first page for your target keywords, the investment into maintaining those results will be much lower.

Getting your website ranked high in search results require hard work and effort before you start getting traffic. The competition is high for most keywords and you need to have a great SEO plan to get ranked on the first page. There are no shortcuts there and the best way to utilise SEO is to hire SEO experts to help you out.


SEO Expensive PPC Keywords 

In PPC, the cost per click will heavily depend on your industry and the type of keywords you go after. It is a fact that there are plenty of super expensive keywords and they are getting more and more expensive all the time.

PPC Keywords

So instead of using PPC to grab that expensive traffic and potentially lose lots of money if it doesn’t convert, why not try to rank for those keywords and build a long-term asset that can prove to be very profitable down the road? The key is to be smart and patient and you’ll reap the benefits for your business. On the other side, you can go after cheaper keywords at the same time to get faster results.


The Advantages of PPC

If you are completely new to online marketing, you probably have heard people talking about PPC and mentioning terms like CPC, campaigns, and bids. AdWords is an online advertising platform owned by Google. You can use it to place your ads on the search result pages when a user types a keyword on Google. You can also use it to place ads on YouTube and on thousands of other websites that are in the AdWords program as publishers. When you use AdWords, you can choose to pay when people see your ad or when they click it (CPC or cost per click).

True strengths of PPC are its speed and effectiveness. When you start a PPC campaign on AdWords, you can be on the first page on Google on the same day. However, cost per click can be anywhere from a few cents to dozens of dollars so it’s crucial to know exactly what you are doing. There are certainly times to use PPC and one of those is when you are first launching your business or doing a promotion and it’s a great way to build brand awareness. PPC is also the most effective way to promote a special event or deal since SEO doesn’t provide an immediate gratification.


So don’t shrug off PPC yet. There are many advantages to PPC over SEO. When set up correctly, it can bring significant returns on money spent. Another advantage to AdWords is the ability to advertise your business on other websites that your target customers might use. For example, a user sees your ad on a search, but then tomorrow is reading their favourite website and sees your ad again on the header of that website, well there’s a high chance that user will come to visit your website again.

PPC and Google Ads, in particular, are ideal for new companies and start-ups that want to get targeted traffic and their ideal customer to their website in order to start making sales as fast as possible. It is easy to start spending money on PPC but if you do not monitor them properly you will end up making losses instead of profits. 

Paid PPC ads dominate above-the-fold search results. People will always see the paid ads first before they see pages that are ranked by SEO. There are also many ways how PPC ads can attract clicks through the use of locations, bullet points, pricing, site links, etc.

Adwords (1)

Google also gives you the option to create visual shopping ads that can really draw the attention and get people interested in your products. PPC allows you to tightly control your budget so you can determine how much you are willing to spend each day.

PPC is a laser-targeted way to get in front of your ideal customers. You can target ads by keywords, time of day, language, geography, device, etc. Speed provides agility and you can get a quick feedback on new product or marketing message with a short PPC campaign.


SEO and PPC shouldn’t be battling each other. Instead, use them in tandem for a strong 1-2 marketing punch. Use the strengths of both to improve your overall results. You can use data from PPC to prioritise which keywords to optimise for in SEO. On the other hand, instead of bidding on expensive, high CPC keywords, you can use SEO to focus on those terms more effectively.

PPC is the best way to jump-start your online marketing efforts. To get the most out of it, it is very important to have the experience and expertise unless you don’t want to spend all your budget quickly while generating very little traffic.

SEO is highly important for any business and it does take some time to build your backlinks profile and get ranked for the right search terms. You never know when one of your competitors is going to step up their game and possible out-rank you. But in any case, SEO is the best long-term plan that is going to bring you the most qualified customers.

When put together, both organic SEO and PPC will get you on the first page for targeted terms. It isn’t always necessary to make an either-or choice. Combine them and the results will be quite powerful.