PPC vs SEO: Outlining The Pros, Cons, and Differences

By | 2018-08-20T22:30:21+00:00 August 20th, 2018|PPC, SEO|0 Comments

When it comes to boosting your traffic, you have two options: pay per click (PPC) or search engine optimization (SEO). Today, we’re going to compare PPC vs SEO and talk about the pros and cons of each, highlight how they are different, and even touch on whether or not you should use them together.

There are now more than 1.9 billion websites online. If you’re hoping to beat your competitors in the search results, you may be considering search engine optimization (SEO) or pay per click (PPC).

Which one is right for your business? In this post, we’ll compare PPC vs SEO, so you can make the right choice for you.

Ready? Let’s get started.


Before you can choose between PPC and SEO, you’ll need to understand the difference between them:

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization helps you increase both the quality and the quantity of the visitors to your website. This traffic is organic- meaning people have searched for the products or services you sell and found your website through the search results.

SEO has a gradual learning curve, and algorithms are constantly changing so it’s important to either keep up with these changes or consult an expert.

Here are a few of the things involved in search engine optimization:

  • Keyword research
  • Title and meta tags
  • Content creation
  • Social media sharing
  • Attracting backlinks
  • Intuitive site architecture
  • And much more

It’s not usually quick or easy to get to the top of the search results. This is good news since it means that once you’ve established yourself in one of those top spots, it will be difficult for your competitors to overtake you.

What is PPC?

PPC means pay per click. Basically, you generate clicks to your website by paying the search engines. You’re only charged when someone actually clicks on your ad, which is why it’s known as “pay per click.”

This is achieved through a bidding system. You’ll choose the keywords that you would like to display your ads. These will then appear at the top and the right-hand side of the search results.

PPC is particularly good for new businesses which are not yet visible in the search results. This can help create brand awareness and get those first potential customers interested in your product or service.

Is SEO or PPC Right For Your Business?

Since each business is so different, whether PPC or SEO will be best for you will depend on your goals. Here are some pros and cons of each so you can make the right choice.

Pros of SEO

  • SEO is like planting flowers in your garden. You may plant them today, but you won’t see flowers right away. While you can speed up this process, you’ll need to do much more work than just writing a blog post every now and then.
  • However, SEO can be good for businesses on a budget. It’s free for business owners to do themselves, although we all know that time is money and you’ll be spending a lot of time on SEO related activities.
  • SEO has a great return on investment. Even if you choose to hire an SEO company, you can get great results-particularly if you can climb to those first few spots in the search results.
  • The results you get from SEO can also last for years. While you’ll want to keep updating and improving your content, you’re likely to keep improving as you get more backlinks over time.

Cons of SEO

  • As mentioned, it can take time to see results with SEO. You’ll need to allocate at least 6-12 months. If you need results quickly, you may want to use PPC. However, it’s still smart to implement basic SEO as soon as you can.
  • SEO can also be difficult to master. While most business owners can understand basic link building and keyword research, you may also need basic CSS and HTML levels. You can also expect to need to master things like URLs, indexing, redirects, sitemaps, and more.
  • You’ll also need to work on your content creation and copywriting skills so that you can convert visitors into leads and leads into paying customers.

Pros of PPC

  • PPC is more than just regular advertising. The best part about it is that you can show an ad only when users show intent by searching for a specific keyword.
  • Another big pro of PPC? You can see the results immediately. While you’ll need to have a good call-to-action and great copy, you can quickly show up at the top of the search results within a couple of days. This is almost impossible to do with SEO alone.
  • PPC is also easier to master than SEO. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy, but you can use trial and error to see what works. Once you’ve set up an optimized campaign, you can get professional support from Google, tweak your campaign, and scale up whenever you’re ready.

Cons of PPC

  • For businesses with high profit margins, paying for PPC makes sense. However, if you don’t have much of a margin to work with, it may not be worth it.
  • You’ll also need to think about your conversion rate. It’s not enough to pay for people to visit your site. Those people need to convert into customers. Otherwise, you’re throwing money away.
  • PPC also has a steep learning curve when you first get started. You’ll need to learn about CPC, CTR, bids, budgets, negative keywords, ad groups, keywords, and campaigns. It’s easy to waste your budget if you don’t know what you’re doing with PPC.

So Which is Better?

For many businesses, it simply makes sense to use PPC and SEO at the same time. These go together like peanut butter and jelly. By launching both a PPC and SEO campaign, you’ll cover all your bases. This means you can work on improving your ranking for the future while attracting potential customers to your website right away.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both PPC and SEO. For most businesses, using both of these together will make the most sense. However, if you only have a small advertising budget, SEO can be the best way to get started unless you need results in the short term, in that case you should start with paid search.

Need some help with your SEO or PPC campaigns? Get in touch today and let’s talk about your options.

About the Author:

I'm Alex Lloro, a digital marketing consultant with more than 20 years of experience. I am the founder of All Marketing Services, a digital marketing agency based in Washington DC with clients all over the US and Europe. In this blog you'll find tips about digital marketing, conversion rate optimization and martech (technology applied to marketing). You can learn more about my services or contact me today for one-on-one guidance on all of your marketing needs.

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