Difference between SEO and PPC – A Detailed Guide

Difference between SEO and PPC

Google processes around 5.9 million Google searches per minute. Does your company appear in these searches? Does your website rank above your competitors? Do you know what’s the difference between SEO and PPC, and how does it help your website to rank?

Let’s start with some small definitions to better understand the acronyms that we will find in this article:

  • SEO: Acronym for Search Engine Optimization, it means optimizing content and technical aspects of the website to obtain better free placements.
  • PPC: Acronym for Pay per Click, a type of online advertising that is paid for each click received.

SEO and Pay-per-click – PPC are the two main channels of search engine marketing – Search Marketing, each with PROS and CONS. Which one fits your business best? Which channel should you invest in?

A frequent question that I am asked during the courses is: “Is SEO better or Google Ads? Let’s find out, as the final conclusion is based on a few factors, like:

  • What time frame does your business have? Long or short?
  • In which sector does your business operate? A very competitive one or in a narrow niche?
  • What other online marketing activities are you pursuing?
  • How much budget can you consistently invest in Search Marketing?

We all agree that having good SEO is a great thing, who wouldn’t want to get free visits to their site? However, we are no longer in the SEO Wild West of the 90s, almost all market sectors are saturated, manned by strong and authoritative portals that have been investing online for at least a decade. New businesses may struggle to get started quickly with SEO, and paid search can offer a fast track to Search Marketing when done right.

Every digital marketing strategy starts with analyzing your potential customers and how they use the web. This study is the key to determining whether paid search, organic search, or a combination of both is the best approach for your unique and ever-changing situation.

Are you selling products that people don’t know about and therefore don’t google? Maybe social networks are the perfect place to promote your business and not search engines …

A successful marketing strategy takes time and money. Choosing whether to do both pay-per-click ads and search engine optimization isn’t a decision that can be made without fully understanding both. In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) as a marketing strategy and provide some tips for choosing the right channel for your business. In cases where both organic and paid traffic may be suitable, we’ll take a look at how to integrate these two channels for better synergies and results.

SEO Vs PPC; What changes?

Simply put, SEO allows you to get free traffic – called organic – to your website. Good SEO is achieved by optimizing content and technical aspects such as page loading speed.

PPC ads are ads for which you pay per click received, which appear at the top and bottom of the search engine results pages – called SERP – Search Engine Results Page.

There are two major differences between SEO and PPC:

  • The first is that paid ads appear at the top of the page, above the SEO-influenced organic ads.
  • The second is that the traffic from organic through SEO is free, while the traffic from PPC has a cost for each click received by the ads.

In many cases, SEO and PPC work best when integrated into a common strategy and with aligned goals.

Organic Traffic – SEO

Doing SEO means including unique and high-quality content on your website which will increase its visibility, credibility, and relevance. SEO is divided into On-site, Off-site, and Technical SEO activities.

On-site optimization includes internal website interventions:

  • Optimize title and meta description tags
  • Take advantage of headings tags to format and split texts
  • Implement structured data
  • Improve Core Web Vitals
  • Take care of the images
  • Create high-quality content useful to the target audience
  • Structure internal links

Off-site SEO, on the other hand, is based on activities carried out externally to the website, which aim to improve the ranking in the SERP through the creation of backlinks which by their nature are unnatural. For this reason, link building is an activity contrary to the guidelines of Google Webmaster, as it tries to manipulate PageRank in an undeserved way.

Off-site SEO includes creating:

  • Inbound Links or Backlinks: SEO uses backlinks as proof of the quality of a website’s content. The higher the quality and authority of the backlinks, the greater the positioning strength of the website. High-value links come from sites with high domain authority and above all related to the topic of your content.
  • Sharing content on social media channels.
  • Guest blogging, or posting articles on other portals to generate backlinks to your website.
  • Social Post from Influencer Marketing.
  • Tabs in thematic and localized corporate directories
  • Links from review sites.
  • Mentions and citations of your brand in articles on other portals, both in the form of links and as simple text.

SEO is clearly much more than you can put in a short-bulleted list, I am only interested in giving you an overall picture to then be able to present the advantages and disadvantages of SEO.

Pros and Cons of SEO

What are the main pros and cons of organic traffic from SEO? Let’s start with the PROs:

  • Brand Awareness: Search engine visibility for your industry keywords puts your business in front of potential customers, much like advertising. This presence in the SERP increases brand awareness. Additionally, visibility into commercial search terms and informational queries related to your area of ​​business can have a positive branding advantage. In fact, your brand can be associated with and trusted by researchers who ask questions as they conduct research that will lead to a purchase. You can become an authoritative and convincing voice on a certain topic if you inform the user correctly.
  • Credibility and trust: Having your website high in organic results can affect your perceived credibility from the audience searching for your services. Many users skip paid ads and trust organic results more, rating them more credible. Being visible in SERPs gives your business that all-important Google stamp of approval.
  • Website traffic. Increasing website traffic gives you more opportunities to raise awareness of your business and educate a potential customer as to why they should buy from you.
  • Cost per click – CPC. Traffic from organic search is said to be free, but that’s not quite the case. SEO activities cost time and/or money even though there is no direct debit for each impression or click received. However, the return on investment (ROI) is generally better for SEO. Even by allocating the cost of SEO activities, organic search engine traffic often provides better ROI than traditional forms of paid media.
  • While SEO is neither cheap nor easy, it will generally be cheaper than all other Web Marketing tactics, both for getting relevant traffic to your website and for building Brand Awareness. In addition, with SEO you can place thousands of keywords that it would be inexpensive to buy with PPC campaigns.
  • Unlike PPC, organic traffic doesn’t run out the moment you stop paying. Therefore, efforts to develop organic traffic can sustain a business when marketing spend is reduced. I happen to describe SEO as a big stone flywheel: impressing the initial rotation motion is very tiring, but then once the right speed is reached the disc rotates practically by itself for some time, and will continue to do so with relatively less effort. .
  • To maximize visibility in search engines it is often convenient to have both organic and PPC results, in this way, you will get double CTRs. Keyword-level experimentation is needed to see if you’re paying for the clicks you’d get for free, or to increase overall clicks and overall CTR. To truly maximize results, you need strong paid and organic visibility.
  • Strategic Advantage. Visibility in organic search is slow and difficult to build, which could be good or bad. Good organic visibility achieved with a solid SEO strategy is not easily scratched by competitors. Your competitors won’t have an easy time catching up with you, assuming you’ve done things right. This can provide a strategic advantage over the competition, a kind of barrier to entry.

However, it’s not all plain sailing, there are definitely CONS in SEO.

  • SEO is not for everyone. In many cases, organic traffic can be extremely slow to grow, and you may simply not make it out sufficiently to keep your business going. Everyone wants to be on the front page, but there are only ten places and thousands of competitors. If you’re just starting out and the keywords you target are generating titan-dominated results like Amazon and eBay, for example, then you may need to rethink your strategy.
  • Constant investments. For good SEO it is necessary to consistently develop high-quality content to gain relevance and the trust of users and search engines. Not all companies have the internal resources to tackle content development and this can be a problem and a limitation. Tactics like building safe and sustainable backlinks may not have the desired effect or they may be difficult to master. In any case, a strategy is needed, along with expert support.
  • SEO covers the entire marketing funnel. Organic traffic can come from informative search queries, also called pre-purchase queries, which are far from converting. This is valuable traffic for brand awareness, but a more gradual approach may be needed to encourage those users to make a purchase.

Paid traffic – PPC with Google Ads

In a PPC campaign on the Search network, you define a list of keywords to buy. When a user searches for that word or nearby alternatives, the search engine can show your ad, and every time someone clicks on your PPC ad in the SERP you pay a commission.

The great thing about PPC campaigns is the ability to target. Your ads can be targeted to interested users, a specific geographic location, gender, age group, and much more. PPC ads are placed at the top and bottom of search engine results pages, above and below organic search results.

A campaign can be activated quickly, and PPC ads bring immediate results, unlike the waiting game that involves SEO. Of course, if you pause your ads, you will stop getting clicks.

Pros and Cons of PPC

How does paid search differ from organic search? With user trust predominantly in favor of organic search, why should a business invest in paid ads? In this section, we see some of the advantages offered by PPC:

  • Position on the page. Paid search dominates above-the-fold content – the top of the page that you see when loading without scrolling. Up to four ads on desktop and three on mobile can appear at the top of search results, a user will always see paid search ads before organic results.
  • Improved ads. PPC ads are advertisements and as such, you have much more granular control over the text and more space to communicate your marketing messages. Also, call extensions, site links, pricing, and callouts are just some of the options for creating more extensive ads than organic ones, which dominate the SERP.
  • Product images. When promoting a product with Google Ads, you have the option to use image ads that can help a user preview the item. This type of ad can improve CTR – click through rate by offering a feature not available in organic search.
  • Brand Awareness. Covering your industry’s queries with paid search ads gets you seen by the right people. A persistent PPC campaign builds brand awareness over time.
  • Budget management. PPC campaigns with Google Ads allow for tight budget control. Once you’ve determined how much you’re willing to spend per day, Google Ads will stick to that spending constraint and you won’t have any surprises.
  • Google Ads provides several methods to segment users and show ads only to groups we define as eligible, not just keywords. Ads can be disabled based on time of day, day of the week, region, language, device, and audience based on previous visits and more.
  • As we have seen, the development of good organic visibility can take a long time and the results are never certain and cannot be guaranteed. A PPC campaign, on the other hand, can be created in days and enhanced in weeks. There is no faster way than PPC to get in front of customers the moment they are ready to buy.
  • Speed ​​provides agility. Are you looking forward to testing a new product? A new marketing message? A new landing page? You can get quick feedback on a new product launch by running a short PPC advertising campaign.
  • Data mining. Organic traffic provides less data than paid traffic. For example, in the name of Privacy, we don’t know for sure which keywords convert. But the paid search has no such restriction. With conversion tracking and solid integration with Web Analytics software such as Google Analytics, we can determine which keywords convert, at what percentage, and at what cost – CPA. This information can (and should) be leveraged in your SEO strategy, consolidating organic visibility on the terms most likely to convert.
  • A / B test. With a PPC campaign, you can easily split test ads, landing pages, and even CTAs – Call to Action, such as call-to-action buttons, to determine the combinations that bring the best results. Want to find out if it converts the green or yellow button better? Activate a campaign and you will find out in no time. Again, this information is not limited to the PPC campaign, but can and should be leveraged in all other digital and traditional marketing activities.
  • The traffic generated by Google Ads does not suffer the same turbulence that organic traffic can suffer. Algorithmic updates in SEO are more frequent and often have a greater impact than variations in Google Ads algorithms.
  • Despite what many advertisers believe, a well-set up and consistently managed PPC account can be a way to generate low-cost leads for your business. If you’re a local business that targets a small geographic area and a small set of keywords, you may find that you can generate more than enough leads without breaking the bank. Plus, over time, accounts can be further optimized to reduce costs and increase yield.

As with organic search, there are many benefits to PPC. However, there are also some pitfalls advertisers need to watch out for.

  • PPC can be an increasing cost. This is not always the case, but costs can add up quickly. If you buy a lot of keywords with your campaign, or want to cover large geographic areas or entire countries, the costs involved in achieving good reach can increase. Also, paid search advertising is, as the name suggests, paid, so it requires constant investment. Stop paying and your ads disappear, however, as long as you have a sustainable acquisition cost, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Managing and optimizing Google Ads campaigns is a job that requires time, perseverance and above all skills. It takes a moment to mess up a campaign’s settings and compromise its performance. There are various options for advertising associated with PPC search, and making smart choices will affect the results.
  • It is not uncommon to get into bidding wars with other advertisers, which can increase your CPC – Cost Per Click. When you start running your ads, you are often taking a bite from other advertisers’ digital apple. This can lead to an increasing spiral of costs.
  • No barrier to entry. Strategically, a PPC campaign is relatively easy to copy. If a competitor notices that you are running ads, they can also run ads by taking a cue from yours or even copying them. In fact, your advertisements can be copied or imitated. The entire funnel you use in your marketing campaigns can be easily evaluated and studied by competitors. This is the digital marketing landscape though, and you have to accept that to some extent.
  • Do -it-yourself doesn’t work. A successful PPC campaign requires conscious management and constant optimization done by a qualified figure. Make sure you have expert support to keep your account in tip-top shape.

SEO or PPC? Which is better?

It is not possible to answer this question without taking into consideration the unique situation of a particular business.

A hyper-local business with little competition and a need for just a few leads per week could likely develop good visibility in local and organic search results for a small fee and a little DIY SEO strategy.

To promote an event or a temporary offer, however, you don’t always have time to get SEO to act, so a PPC campaign is often a must.

In other cases the problem is not the time available but the high level of competition of the SEO. A new eCommerce that is competing with web giants will likely have a hard time gaining visibility in organic search, at least in the short term.

So, the right answer depends on what you want.

  • Do you want immediate results?
  • Do you have patience and long-term reasons?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Do you have a high domain authority?
  • Do you know how and where your competitors rank in organic search?
  • What is the average cost per click in paid search?

These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before considering an investment in SEO and/or PPC.

SEO and PPC, are better together!

In an ideal world, we would be looking at both SEO and PPC. Both have pros and cons and work best when they support each other, creating synergy. Where you can make SEO and PPC work together, you will often be able to outperform their component parts.

The benefits of managing SEO and PPC together include:

  • Keywords and conversion data from PPC can quickly flow into your SEO strategy.
  • Total traffic volume can be increased by targeting paid and organic clicks for high-performing keywords.
  • High-cost and high-volume, or low-converting (but still important) keywords can be moved from PPC to organic search.
  • The data from A / B tests on advertising text and landing pages can be used to optimize the pages and the website funnel.
  • Remarketing PPC campaigns allow you to stay in touch with your website visitors and customize messages based on their engagement and the pages they visit.
  • You can test your keyword strategy in PPC campaigns before committing to long-term SEO strategies.
  • With a good SEO and PPC strategy you can cover all the intentions of your users, from informational, brands to conversion ones.
  • Increase your brand’s trust and awareness with persistent SERP visibility, both organic and paid.

Since 2010 I have worked with hundreds of companies with different setups and entrepreneurs with unique mindsets but I can tell you that an integrated Search marketing strategy that considers both SEO and PPC is the most favorable method.

The hare and the tortoise

Let’s Relate SEO and PPC with the tortoise and the hare story…

The turtle: SEO

SEO can be an extremely slow and complex process. The activities involved are many, complex, and cyclical, such as:

  • Keyword Research
  • Study and monitoring of competitors
  • Optimization of page texts
  • Technical optimization of the website
  • Off-site SEO activity

Your website as a result of constant interventions will grow, but it will take months. The quality will improve. The authority will increase. Search engines will recognize the greater credibility and relevance of your content and will send more traffic to your website.

You can’t wave a magic wand and immediately get interesting rankings. You cannot pay for the first organic position.

It’s a waiting game. And while you wait, keep updating and improving your website. It’s free if you do it yourself. It takes a long time. SEO wins in the long run.

The hare: PPC

PPC is fast. You will see results almost immediately. But when you stop paying your website will go back into the oblivion it came from.

Search engines rate your ads, as they do with SEO. This is why you will have to test and modify your PPC campaign every day and analyze the huge amount of data available, so as not to waste money. Define your goals, set your budget, and link your credit card. After a few hours, your ads will be visible to those who search for the keywords you have chosen to buy.

Pay Per Click costs. It’s fast. It is immediate. PPC wins in the short term.


SEO and PPC are not the solution to all marketing problems. It is not certain that these channels are applicable successfully and economically to all companies. They are undoubtedly useful in an aggressive, high-growth marketing environment with high budgets. You will need to develop a holistic search engine strategy rather than looking at SEO or PPC individually.

I hope this blog ”difference between SEO and PPC” will help you to decide the better use of SEO and PPC for the ranking of your website. If you have any queries, feel free to reach us. If you are looking forward to learning SEO and PPC thoroughly, you can visit our site NIDE. It provides a Diploma in Digital Marketing online and also Post Graduate Program in Digital Marketing with 100% guaranteed placement.


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