When researching digital marketing, you’ve probably heard two phrases a lot:

SEO and PPC.

What are they?

Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click.

One deals with “naturally” or “organically” showing your website in front of people who are searching for a product or service.

The other deals with paying to show up in front of people who are searching for a product or service.

One is earned, and the other is paid.


How does SEO vs PPC compare?

Benefits and Drawbacks of SEO

Below are the benefits and drawbacks to SEO.

Receives Most of the Traffic

The numbers don’t lie. The organic search takes the majority of the traffic from search engines(over 60%). This is because people, in general, trust the organic rankings brought about by SEO when compared to the paid ads.

Google’s aim is to provide trustworthy results, using their own trust factors. For the most part, we trust those results that Google gives.

Those who’ve earned Google’s trust, earn our trust. 

Higher Quality Traffic & Conversions

Not only do the organic search results receive most of the traffic, but the traffic is also of much higher quality when compared to PPC.

Conversion rates are higher across the board.

PPC accounts for only a small percentage of clicks from the search engines.

Takes A Long Time to See Results

SEO takes a long time, and unless you understand best practices, you won’t be able to see how effective your strategy us unless you give it time.

However, once you have established your site in the rankings with foundational principles, you will be able to reap the benefits for a longer time.

It also positions your business ahead of your competition in the mind of the consumer.

Hiring an Agency can be Expensive/Worthless

With the amount of time needed to invest in SEO, many businesses choose to outsource this aspect.

There are countless “SEO agencies” that may look cheap in the beginning but are never worth the price. 

It is definitely hard to vet an agency, even on past results and case studies.

There are ways to track your keyword rankings as they go up, but there are a lot of nefarious practices in the SEO world that can kill rankings as quickly as they shoot up.

Benefits and Drawbacks of PPC

Here are the benefits and drawbacks to PPC.

Better Performance Feedback

As soon as you properly set up your ads and they start running, you’ll be able to tell, in a matter of weeks whether or not your ad campaigns are getting results. 

The same can’t be said for SEO, as it can take months and even years(in a competitive market) to rank for something organically, assuming you’re following best practices.

Hiring an Agency is Cheaper than SEO

The initial fees associated with hiring an agency to do PPC are cheaper, and you can tell in real time whether or not they are giving you adequate results.

If they don’t show improvement or give you the type of ROI you’re looking for, you can end it at a much quicker rate when compared to SEO.

You’ll ultimately want to give enough time to see whether or not their approaches work, but PPC can work in attaining a positive ROI over a shorter timeline versus SEO. 

Requires More Maintenance

PPC requires a much more hands-on approach when you compare it to SEO.

Since you receive feedback in real time, and with psychological concepts like ad fatigue at play, you’re going to have to constantly test and optimize your campaigns.

SEO, on the other hand, doesn’t require as much daily maintenance as a PPC campaign can.

Requires A Budget

To get started in PPC requires a budget, which can be tough for small businesses who may not have the budget for it.

SEO technically doesn’t require a budget, just a lot of sweat equity in setting everything up correctly if you don’t have the funds.

However, you can’t start a PPC campaign without money, and this can be a deal breaker for a lot of small businesses since there’s no way around that requirement.

Expensive (if not Managed Properly)

Some people assume that PPC can be set-it-and-forget-it, but that couldn’t be farther from the case.

If you aren’t careful with setting budget limits or performance metrics in place, you could spend upwards of thousands of dollars on your campaigns with little to no return on investment.

Why Not Both?

As the Velveeta cheese girl once said, “Why not both?”.

PPC can be an excellent litmus test for testing out new keywords. It can also help you as a company firmly establish your position by blanketing the first page with your brand.

If you show up for both SEO and PPC search results, it shows that you have invested in your company and have the money to pay for PPC.

The truth is, SEO and PPC both have their place in your digital media marketing mix. 

Utilizing just one or the other can stunt the growth of your company.

PPC can be a great way to test out your sales and marketing funnels, and SEO can be a great way to establish your authority in your industry.

You can also retarget people who’ve found your blog content through SEO with PPC ads.

The possibilities are endless.

SEO and PPC are Investments

It’s important in both cases to track your ROI, regardless of whether you decide to go with SEO vs PPC.

SEO is a slow, steady burn, while PPC can be a flash in the pan without putting energy into it.

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, PPC, or digital marketing in general and how it fits in your business, don’t hesitate to reach out.