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ppc vs seo

PPC vs. SEO: Which One Should You Go For?

Marketers often find themselves confused between SEO and PPC. Both marketing channels are highly effective when you have a good strategy, but PPC and SEO vastly differ when it comes to the ROI, time, and effort you have to put in.

However, choosing between the two is actually an easy task when you analyze your marketing goals with the pros and cons of PPC and SEO marketing.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between SEO and PPC, the pros and cons of both, and SEO & PPC example use cases.

A) What does SEO mean in marketing?

Optimizing website speed and images, building backlinks, and publishing quality content on a consistent basis are the critical aspects of SEO.

Now that you have a basic understanding of SEO, let’s see what it is good and bad at.


1. Organic vs. paid search: organic traffic lasts longer

Once you rank on the first page of Google for your desired keywords through SEO, the traffic keeps coming in, and you don’t have to pay a penny for it. Your SEO specialists can take a break, and it won’t affect the traffic you’re generating.

Even if you lose your ranking for a few keywords, you’ll still be getting decent traffic from the other keywords you’re ranking for. SEO traffic doesn’t dry up overnight.

But in the case of PPC, the traffic will keep flowing as long as you have money in your account, and PPC traffic sources dry up the moment your PPC budget is exhausted.

2. SEO is cheaper in the long run

You’ll spend a few bucks for creating well-optimized content and building backlinks when you’re starting out with SEO. But since the organic traffic lasts longer, you’ll get a better ROI, and you’d be spending much less than what you’d spend for PPC for the same amount of traffic. It is one of the major advantages of SEO vs. Adwords and similar PPC platforms.

3. SERP ranking is relatively stable compared to PPC

SERP positions are more stable compared to PPC. Yes, you may have to deal with occasional algorithm updates, but in PPC, your position immediately changes when another company pays more than you for the same ranking position. And it happens very often when you’re in a very competitive industry.


1. It takes time

SEO is a very slow process. If your website is new, a change you make today may take around six months to reflect on the search engines. Six months is a very long time, especially when you don’t have other channels for lead generation. Companies often kickstart SEO along with PPC campaigns to overcome this.

However, as your website gets older and you fill it with quality content, you’ll find it easier to rank.

2. SEO requires unique, authoritative content

If you’re planning to do SEO, be prepared to craft high-quality, authoritative content consistently.  You have to produce content that is loved by both search engines and your audience to win the game of SEO.

How-to guides, infographics, whitepapers, educational articles—you’ll find yourself creating different kinds of marketing assets and doing extensive keyword research for SEO.

The bottom line: SEO takes significantly more effort than PPC. However, several companies offer SEO & PPC services, and they can take the time-consuming tasks off your plate.

3. SEO is an ongoing process

SEO is a continuous, ongoing process, and the rewards are proportional to the amount of time you invest. The more quality, well-optimized content you have, the better your domain authority will be. And the better the domain authority, the easier it is to rank.

Also, Google updates its algorithm several times a year. Minor updates won’t affect rankings, but you’ll have to update your website as soon as possible to survive major algorithm updates.

B) What does PPC mean in marketing?

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, an advertising method where you pay for each visit generated through the ad.

Search engines and social media platforms offer PPC advertisement, and companies use it to generate highly targeted traffic to their websites.

Google shows PPC ads at the top of SERPs, and the best thing about it is that you can rank for any keyword if you have enough budget.

Also, unlike SEO, you don’t need much expertise to run PPC campaigns. You can watch a few PPC tutorials, pick a few good PPC keywords, learn how to bid smartly, and you’re good to go. You can also avail the services of PPC professionals and use tools like PPC Scope to run your campaigns.


1. Faster ROI

You can start your PPC campaigns right away, and you will begin to see the results in a few minutes or hours. Once you set up a campaign and hit ‘Run campaign’, your target audience will see your ad when they search with relevant keywords.

With SEO, you may have to wait for weeks or even months to generate leads and sales. When you have to choose between organic and paid ads, always consider how soon you want to see the results.

2. Drives highly targeted traffic to the web page

SEO traffic is based on the keywords; anyone googling your target keyword will see your ad. Organic traffic may include people who are not your prospects, such as SEO specialists and content marketers trying to create better content than you.

However, you can target your prospects very precisely in PPC campaigns. All PPC marketing platforms offer granular targeting, where you can pinpoint your target audience based on gender, location, job, income, profession, education, etc.

Granular targeting is one of the most appealing benefits of paid search.

You can use a PPC optimization checklist to ensure your customer persona matches the target audience.

3. It’s scalable and controllable

Want to generate more traffic to your website? Just boost your budget—it’s as simple as that with PPC. You can scale up or down based on your budget, anytime. Also, you get to stop the campaigns with just a click.

With SEO, you have to put in a lot of effort to scale up, and you can’t limit the traffic in case you want to. PPC offers more control over the traffic and your expenses.

4. Algorithm updates don’t affect PPC campaigns

Google’s occasional algorithm updates affect organic rankings, but it doesn’t affect PPC rankings. With PPC, you’ll always get what you pay for, whereas your SEO rankings may get affected by factors like low-quality backlinks, algorithm updates, etc.


1. Your costs depend on your competitor’s PPC budget

PPC is very costly in highly competitive industries. All companies are bidding for the same four ad spots on Google, and so the budget of your competitors determines how much you have to pay, how many visits you are going to get, and how long you can run the campaign.

This is a major disadvantage of PPC platforms like AdWords vs. SEO. In some industries, the competition for PPC rankings is so high that the cost-per-click(CPC) is so high that it costs hundreds of dollars for a single visit to the website.

2. Results depend on how much you’ve spent

The results in PPC campaigns are solely determined by one factor: how much you are spending. PPC costs don’t go down as you run campaigns for long periods; it is more likely to go up than down because of increased competition over time.

The more you spend, the better the results.

3. Long campaigns lose effectiveness

Long PPC campaigns tend to lose effectiveness after some time. The target audience starts seeing the ad too often, and the messaging becomes stale. 

You have to keep refreshing your ad copies and images when running the campaign for long periods.

4. You may face click fraud

One of the major risks of PPC campaigns is that you may face click fraud. Your competitors can manually click on your ads or use spammy software that simulates human-like clicks from different IP addresses.

Google can detect most of the fraud clicks, but it is still a risk since you will be paying for each click the ad gets.

C) SEO vs. PPC: Which is better for me?

SEO and PPC have their own appealing advantages, but when should you go for Pay-Per-Click vs. SEO? What factors to consider when you have to choose between SEO and PPC?

Well, it is entirely dependent on where your company stands.

If you have an innovative product or your website is still new, it is better to focus more on the PPC campaigns to generate some initial momentum. You can start running PPC campaigns and SEO in tandem and shift to SEO when your website gains some authority.

● You have a one-time/limited-time offer: If you are running a limited-time offer, you should go for PPC to make the best out of it. If you go with SEO, your prospects won’t get to know about the deal before it ends since it is a slow process.

● You want to sell your website: If your sole intention is to sell the website to make some profit out of it, you should always go for SEO. A website’s value is determined by its authority and rankings. You won’t make much profit from a website that has PPC as the primary traffic source.

● If your business can benefit from SEO, it’s better to invest in it sooner than later since it takes time. You can approach SEO & PPC companies to make sure your website is well-optimized.

The bottom line is that SEO and PPC have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, and the best one for you depends on your specific needs and goals.

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Frequently asked questions


Who gets paid with PPC?

In PPC advertising, an advertiser pays a publisher for each ‘click’ received on the advertisement. The publisher can be website admins, YouTube channels, or sellers of online ad space.

What is SEO and PPC?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing web pages to make sure they appear higher on search engine result pages. PPC or Pay Per Click is an advertising model where the publisher or the online ad space seller gets paid every time someone clicks on the ad.

What is a paid search campaign?

Paid search is a digital marketing campaign where advertisers bid for ad space in search engine result pages for keywords related to their products or services. It helps advertisers reach their potential customers quickly.

What is not a good reason to use paid search?

Paid search is not a sustainable lead generation channel since it is highly dependent on the cash flow. Your paid search traffic will stop the moment you turn off the cash flow, and the cost for a click can shoot up as the competition for your chosen keywords increase.

Is SEO bigger than PPC?

SEO and PPC are two different things, and the best one for you depends on your industry and the goals you’ve set. SEO can be time-consuming, but your Cost Per Acquisition will be lower, and your Click-Through-Rate will be higher than PPC. On the other hand, PPC can generate traffic for you almost instantly.

Is Google Ads SEO or PPC?

Google Ads is a PPC advertising solution. You can bid on your target keywords and get a chance to show ads on the Google search results page. Google does not have an SEO solution, although you can use tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics to track your search performance.

What is an example of PPC?

Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC. For example, when you google the keyword ‘Advertise Online,’ the results page will show you a few PPC ads of companies that offer digital advertising services.

What is the secret to success with PPC?

The secret to success with PPC is comprehensive keyword research, an organized structure, and ongoing data analysis and improvement. When you analyze the data and improve your campaigns frequently, you’ll be able to reach more people and acquire customers at a much lower cost.

Do you really need a PPC campaign for organic SEO?

PPC and SEO are two entirely independent things. Your PPC campaigns do not have an impact on your organic SEO rankings. Your organic rankings depend on factors such as quality, user experience, page speed, and authority.