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PPC vs SEO: What’s the Difference?

Did you know that Google processes 5.6 billion searches daily — or almost 65,000 per second?

The search engine giant provides companies of all sizes the opportunity to reach massive audiences. Given this wide pool of potential customers, the question for most businesses becomes how to effectively reach the right people. And often, the answer to that question boils down to either SEO or PPC. They’re the ideal search engine methods for generating sales and boosting traffic. So what’s the best strategy for your business? It depends. Let’s break down the choices, and look at the pros and cons of each strategy.

What Is SEO?

SEO means search engine optimization — the process of enhancing a website to improve its visibility in search engines. If you’re wondering why marketers fight tooth and nail for Google’s top spot, an Intergrowth article shows that only 25% of site visitors make it past the first page. The higher your SEO rank, the more you grow your leads, conversions, and sales through a online searches.

Experts refer to SEO as organic lead generation. When you think of SEO vs. SEM, the former is free, strictly speaking. You don’t need to pay Google to rank for searches, but the journey to the top takes time.

As industry trends change, so will the definition of SEO. However, the strategy always involves providing humans and Google search crawlers alike with valuable information. Here are some of the crucial factors in ranking in the search engine giant:

  • A safe and accessible site
  • Page speed
  • Relevant content for specific keywords
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • User experience
  • Links
  • Confirmed business details

Including SEO in digital marketing strategies have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at some of them below.

SEO Benefits

  • SEO is a cost-effective strategy. Many digital marketing techniques have emerged over the years, but SEO remains one of the most practical solutions for long-term profitability.
  • The effects of organic SEO last for a long time. Companies with optimized sites can keep enjoying their benefits even after they turn off their PPC campaigns.
  • Unlike PPC campaigns, SEO positioning remains relatively constant. PPC ad positions will change according to the ad campaign’s bidding tactics, but search engines look for the same ranking components every time when determining organic position. As a result, organic rankings change slowly over the course of weeks or months, rather than minutes.


SEO Disadvantages

  • With PPC, you will start getting leads as soon as you run ads. However, it takes months to feel the effects of SEO. Even then, you might not achieve a first-page ranking.
  • Using SEO requires continuous execution; a site will never achieve 100% optimization. The good news is, you increase your chances of ranking in Google if you put in more work to optimize your site.
  • Optimizing a site is a time-consuming endeavor, especially if you don’t have knowledge or experience ranking sites. We recommend using SEO tools or working with professionals to achieve desired results.

What Is PPC?

PPC stands for pay-per-click — a search engine marketing (SEM) model where advertisers pay search engines every time a site visitor clicks on their ads. While SEO gains visits organically, a PPC strategy pays for leads.

Many marketers appreciate the instant benefits of PPC ads. This strategy allows advertisers to bid for sponsored links in search engines. For example, bidding on the term “PPC agency” can put your business in Google’s top spot for that search term instantly—provided your bid is higher than anyone else bidding for that term.

Many components make up an outstanding campaign, from keyword research, ad group and campaign structure, to ensuring your ads are not served for irrelevant searches. Google rewards companies that create valuable PPC campaigns by charging them less per click.

Running PPC ads may seem like a simple task, but you should consider several factors to achieve desired results. We’ve listed some of them below.

  • Keyword selection: When you choose relevant keywords for your ads, you increase your chances of capturing, engaging, and inspiring quality audiences into action. Doing so can lead to higher ROI rates and lower costs per click.
  • Negative Keywords: In addition to picking the right keywords for your ads, it’s just as important to select search terms you DON’T want your ads to be shown for. This eliminates wasted spend on irrelevant traffic.
  • Keyword bidding: Once you’ve chosen your preferred keywords, the next step is to bid on them. Keep in mind that the competition for keywords can be fierce, so set your budgets accordingly.
  • Powerful copy: Copywriting plays a crucial role in the success of PPC ads. While targeted ads limit clicks, they drastically improve conversion rates.
  • Landing pages: PPC campaigns don’t end with attractive ads. Advertisers should also develop navigable landing pages to achieve desired results.
  • Website analysis: As you run PPC campaigns, you’ll gain reliable insight into what your audiences prefer. You can then identify problem areas and apply changes to maximize results.


As with any strategy, PPC ads have their pros and cons.

PPC Benefits

  • Once you run a PPC campaign, you will immediately see an increase in traffic, conversions, and sales. While SEO efforts can take months before achieving any change, there is no waiting with PPC ads.
  • With PPC, you can set a budget and learn how many leads you get in return. Using this technique allows advertisers to control budgets effectively. On the other hand, SEO is a fickle technique that might require more time and labor hours in a competitive industry.
  • When you use a PPC strategy, you don’t have to think about how Google’s ranking procedures affect your ads. With SEO, you have to make sure that you follow Google’s guidelines or risk losing rank or gain penalties.

PPC Disadvantages

  • With PPC, you have to pay to get results, and the competition has never been fiercer. If you don’t use the right keywords, copy, and ad type, you might end up with massive losses.
  • There’s a learning curve in running PPC ads. Researching and choosing the best keywords and ad types might be a tedious task, especially if you’re not familiar with the process yet. We recommend hiring a PPC specialist if you don’t have the time or experts on your side.
  • The moment you stop a campaign, it stops giving you leads. On the plus side, if you feel you can improve a campaign, you can stop it, make adjustments, and rerun it. It takes a while to achieve desired results with SEO, but its effects won’t fade quickly.

Choosing a Strategy

Now that you have a better understanding of the SEO vs. PPC debate, it’s time to choose the best strategy for your brand.

The answer lies in your goals. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for digital marketing needs, and the best solution depends on an organization’s requirements.

Here are some guide questions you can use:

  • Do you have a niche market?
  • When do you need leads?
  • Are you willing to wait for results?


If you have a highly targeted audience in mind, need leads immediately, and are not willing to wait for results, PPC is the ideal strategy for you. SEO is an essential tool for online visibility, but it might take months to notice any change in your ranking. Below are some specific examples of when you should consider PPC benefits over SEO.

Time-Bound Promos or Events

If you want to run time-bound promos like Veteran’s Day Sale, we recommend using PPC ads. SEO is not the best strategy during such instances. By the time your landing page ranks, your promotion will be over.

Unique Products

SEO is ideal for keywords that users search for — for example, iPhone charger, non-stick cooking pans, and Baby Shark stuffed toys. However, if you offer a unique product or product line, it’s best to use PPC ads.

Is your product somewhere along the lines of self-stirring mugs, heated butter knives, and bathroom mirror wipers? You might not have much trouble ranking, but you will limit your traffic if you use SEO.

For such instances, we recommend a PPC campaign to jumpstart the audience’s awareness.

Downloadable Content

If you’ve created a revolutionary lead magnet and a landing page to go along with it, it’s time to promote your content. Given that landing pages often don’t rank well because of their length and lack of backlinks, SEO may not be the best strategy for such a situation.

For quick results, we suggest using a PPC campaign. You’ll notice a sudden increase in downloads and hopefully on conversions and sales also.


Achieve Outstanding PPC Results Now

HRD Marketing is a team of digital marketing professionals dedicated to providing businesses of all sizes and industries with results-driven PPC campaigns. Our experts use the latest technologies and data to help business owners take their companies to new heights.

While other agencies want to talk about reports, clicks, and keywords, we want to develop campaigns that boost leads, conversions, and sales. Are you ready to experience tangible results? Get in touch with us now to achieve outstanding outcomes.


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