SEO vs PPC – Which is Better?

SEO Vs PPC is the two most popular marketing channels that are exploited by marketers to drive traffic to their websites. Clients are always asking which is better between SEO and PPC.

A solid SEO will deliver a high volume of traffic to your website for free. However, content is the lifeblood of any SEO strategy. You still have to spend money, time, and energy to develop your content.

PPC on the other hand is the starter traffic pack for especially new businesses that are just starting.

Ever heard of the Google Sandbox? If you’ve launched a new website, you must spend some time around the block before you can rank on Google. While you wait for that, you can make your website visible using PPC. Downside? It is quite expensive and not all businesses have a robust marketing budget.

A short verdict before we begin? Neither SEO nor PPC should be used in isolation. Both are like the popular two sides to a coin, existing to complement each other. Albeit, there are special circumstances where one is recommended for use above the other. You’ll learn of those further down this article.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization refers to steps that are taken to make your web pages appear in the top position of search engine result pages (SERPs). SEO generates organic traffic. Ranking on SERPs through SEO is completely based on hard work, or should I say smart work?

Search engines deploy their algorithms to determine what position your web pages deserve on SERPs.

Let’s now see some pros associated with generating your website traffic through SEO. Shall we?

Pros of SEO

Pros of SEO include:

1. Long-Lasting Results

The long-lasting nature of organic traffic generated through SEO is the reason many marketers consider it to be the best marketing channel.

You can take a short break from your SEO and your inflow of organic traffic will not be affected. Taking a break from PPC for a minute will stall your paid search traffic for a minute.

2. “Free” of Cost

You probably already heard this a while ago. Ranking through SEO is completely free. You do not or simply cannot pay your way into #1 on any organic search result.

On the other hand, PPC costs money. They are exactly what they are called “pay-per-click”. You pay for your ads to appear at the top of search results. You’re charged between $1- $2 depending on your targeted keyword each time someone clicks on your ad on search results.

Cons of SEO

Cons of SEO include:

1. It Takes Time

To build a sky scrapper, you would dig deeper, right? Whatever lasts long, takes time, right? Well, that’s SEO. If you know how long SEO takes to work, you would agree that it is a slow and steady process.

2. Demands Steady Content

SEO requires a constant supply of fresh and unique content. In fact, without content, there would be no SEO. It is free to rank but the content is not free. Even if you create your content by yourself, they still cost you your time and energy. So, you simply cannot do SEO without spending a great deal of money, time, or energy, or even all on content creation.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)?

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a marketing channel that lets you place ads on ad platforms and pay only when your ad is clicked. PPC generate paid search traffic.

Pros of PPC

Pros of PPC include:

1. Fast Results

It does not take any time to generate traffic using PPC. The sooner you turn on your faucet, the sooner water can flow.

2. Does not Require Steady Content

Unlike SEO, PPC does not require a steady supply of content to work. As long as you have a landing page, you’re good to go with PPC. All you need is a product or category page with your product or service of concern on display.

3. Audience Targeting is Possible

With PPC, you can opt to display your ads only to a targeted audience according to set demography or geography. As such you pay only when such people click on your ads.

Cons of PPC

Cons of PPC include:

1. Short-Lived Results

The sooner you turn on the faucet, the sooner paid traffic is generated. Guess what happens when you turn it off? Your guess is as good as mine. The traffic source is cut off and traffic inflow is stopped.

2. It Costs Money

Not just money, huge money. PPC costs money. For your ads to appear on top of search results or anywhere on the internet, you must pay. WebFX found that the average cost-per-click on Google ads is between $1- $2 each time someone clicks on an ad.

If you’re bidding on any of these high CPC keywords, the cost would be even higher, as much as $40 per click!

Another way PPC can cost you money is in making sure your ads don’t become stale leading to ad blindness. You need to spend money producing fresh copies of ads for your flavor to remain savory.

SEO Vs PPC, So which is Better?

SEO Vs PPC? Both have their place in digital marketing. Where the marketing budget is not too tight, none should be short-changed for the other.

If there’s one thing our earlier understanding of the individual pros and cons of SEO and PPC brought to light, it is that SEO vs PPC should not be a subject open for comparison. It is best if both co-exist alongside each other.

A good approach to get the best out of both channels is to optimize the rest of your website with SEO and utilize PPC for your landing pages.

Moreover, insights gained from PPC can be imputed into SEO for optimal results.

Your PPC campaigns could reveal that some particular keywords convert better than some others.

For example, your eCommerce store sells men’s jeans. You found through your PPC campaigns that the keyword “buy blue jeans” converted better than “men jeans” “buy men denim jeans” etc. You can improve your SEO by creating or improving content around the high-converting keyword.

However, there are particular scenarios where either SEO or PPC becomes paramount than the other. Let us look at a few cases:

When is SEO Better?

SEO is better than PPC when:

1. You are trying to Grow Long Term Traffic

A high authority domain is characterized by a rich backlink profile. If you intend to build one such and grow long term traffic, you need to embrace SEO over PPC or a combination of both but never PPC only.

When is PPC Better?

PPC is better than SEO when:

1. Your Product is Novel

Say for real, you’re marketing a teleporting device that makes people disappear and then appear at their desired location. Relying on SEO to find customers for your product at this point will most likely not be effective. It is highly unlikely that there are too many people searching for “teleporters” or teleporting devices given that it is novel.

Optimizing your PPC ad around keywords like “book flight” “book a bus” or anything else related to traveling is most likely to reach potential customers looking to make a quick trip.

2. You’re Promoting a One-Off Offer or Event

Say your eCommerce store is offering a 60% discount (flash sale) on all winter clothes in summer? Your offer would be over by the time winter arrives, right?

While it is possible to market this offer using SEO, there’s one little problem. Winter could be upon us before your content or web pages marketing the offer begins to rank on SERPs.

Here, PPC is your best bet. Remember, the minute you turn on the faucet, the minute there’s a flow.

3. You’re Promoting Product Pages

Backlink profile is still an important ranking factor that is not going anywhere soon. For you to rank through SEO, you need a rich backlink profile. However, people naturally don’t like to link to commercial pages such as eCommerce sites’ product pages.

So, to get your landing pages in front of people, you need a PPC marketing channel.


Imagine SEO was carrot and PPC was some Vitamin A supplement. Would you say either one of them is not a good source of Vitamin A? I guess not. The only difference is one source is organic and the other is non-organic. Both have their usefulness. You also wouldn’t stop eating carrots because you’re on some Vitamin A supplement. Would you?

Have any thoughts or experience using SEO vs PPC; we would love to learn of it. Kindly share it with us in the comment box below.

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