PPC vs SEO and the Case for Both

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PPC and SEO are big buzz words for businesses, companies, and organizations with websites and an interest in generating sales and conversions through an online presence. These two different types of Internet marketing and advertising actually work hand in hand to convert searchers into customers, and using one without the other may leave you with an incomplete marketing campaign that converts searchers into loyal consumers of your competitors’ products.

The important difference is that PPC (pay per click) ads begin working instantly, while SEO (search engine optimization) takes time. But if PPC is instant, than why bother with the long and ongoing process of SEO?

One reason is that PPC is an obviously targeted advertisement, while SEO is a more subtly targeted result. But while the ads are more or less guaranteed to show up—as long as they’re tagged with the right keywords—SEO results fluctuate according to constantly changing conditions. While neither tactic is sure to drive traffic to a site, together they can dramatically increase it.

More about PPC


Pay per click ads show up in response to a searcher’s keywords—the words they enter into a search engine to deliver the results they’re looking for. Because they are a form of paid advertising, PPC ads are placed at the top of the search engine results page where searchers are more likely to see them and click on them first.

The unpaid results (also called organic or natural results) listed below the paid ads aren’t exactly free because they’re the result of some very calculated and deliberate SEO efforts, but it doesn’t cost the business anything when a searcher uses organic results to click-through to their website. Pay per click ads are aptly named because the website connected to the ad pays a small fee each time a searcher uses the link in the ad to click-through to their site.

A major benefit of PPC advertising is the no-click, no-pay structure of the ads. The downside is that there’s no guarantee a searcher will click. While the ads are free when no one clicks, a click is required to drive traffic to the intended site where a searcher may convert to a sale.

More about SEO


Search engine optimization is a marketing strategy that uses many different tactics to rank websites higher up in the search results in response to keywords, in order to drive traffic to websites. SEO helps the search engines recognize, read, and rank websites. It’s the efforts of SEO that place certain websites at the top of the organic search results where they’re most likely to be clicked on, and it’s a lack of SEO that leaves many more websites in the wake of the top rankers.

SEO is not a shot in the dark. It takes many things into account, including the way search engines function, the ways people search and the keywords they use to do it, and a searcher’s preferred search engine. SEO involves content generation, keyword targeting, HTML coding, backlinking, and more. Because search engine algorithms continually change, SEO efforts must constantly respond to these changes and demand the need for an ongoing SEO campaign.

SEO works very well when managed correctly, but it’s a big job and it takes time and expert knowledge. One downside to SEO is that it can take several months for the results of an SEO campaign to kick in and begin driving traffic to websites. This is where PPC ads can be a big supplement in the meantime, but it doesn’t mean than PPC ads should be removed when SEO begins taking effect.

How PPC and SEO work together


PPC and SEO share a common dilemma: there’s no guarantee that a searcher will click-through to a website listed in the search engine results. But high rankings and prominent ad placement both increase click-throughs dramatically. And when a searcher is searching for a product or service, they intend to click on something. Why not make sure it’s your website by creating noticeable results in both the paid and organic search listings?

Advantages of PPC: A business can begin delivering PPC ads to searchers the same day they launch a PPC campaign. This buys the business some time to work on SEO efforts which take months to build noticeable results. A website with currently high organic rankings may temporarily lose their place when a search engine algorithm changes, but with PPC in place they’ll still be at the top of the page in the paid results. While an ad may or may not be used to click-through to a site, it still gets viewed by a limitless number of searchers, serving as a form of free advertising.

Advantages of SEO: Searchers are aware of paid ads in search engine results. A savvy searcher may intentionally ignore paid ads and opt for organic results instead. While PPC and SEO are both based on keyword targeting, SEO digs a whole lot deeper and employs a myriad of tactics to target searchers, including fresh content generation, keyword placement within content, keyword density, inbound and outbound links, and manipulation of a page’s code.

Together the two keyword-targeting platforms build website and brand presence and send a higher number of searchers directly to an intended website. They offer two ways instead of one to get your brand a noticeable rank. And if your website isn’t there to be clicked on, searchers will be forced to click-through to the sites of your competitors.