SEO vs PPC : Which is Better for Your Business?

In this article, i'll break down the differences between SEO and PPC and explain which marketing strategy is best for your business
July 7, 2022

In today's digital age, businesses are constantly searching for ways to increase their online visibility and drive more traffic to their website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) are two of the most popular and effective digital marketing strategies used by businesses of all sizes.

However, choosing between the two can be a daunting task for many business owners. In this article, we'll explore the key differences between SEO and PPC, the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and when to use one or the other to achieve your digital marketing goals.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of organic traffic to a website from search engines.

It involves optimising various elements on a website, such as content, meta tags, images, and URLs, to make it more attractive to search engine algorithms. The ultimate goal of SEO is to improve a website's search engine ranking, which in turn drives more traffic and leads to higher conversion rates.

SEO is a long-term strategy that requires ongoing effort and monitoring to maintain a website's ranking in search results. While it can take time to see results from SEO, it is a highly effective and cost-efficient way to increase online visibility and attract targeted traffic to a website.

Is SEO a long-term strategy?

SEO is a long-term strategy that requires patience and persistence. It can take weeks, months, or even years to see the full impact of SEO efforts on a website's search engine ranking. This is because search engines, like Google use complex algorithms to determine how to rank websites in search results, and these algorithms are constantly evolving.

In addition, there are many factors that can affect how quickly a website sees results from SEO. For example, the age of the website’s domain name, the competitiveness of the industry, the quality of the content, and the level of competition for certain keywords can all play a role in how long it takes to see results.

However, while it may take time to see results from SEO, the benefits of a well-optimized website can be significant. Over time, a website that ranks well in search results can attract a steady stream of targeted traffic, generate more leads and sales, and establish itself as an authority in its industry. So, while it may require some patience and effort, SEO is a highly effective way to increase online visibility and drive long-term growth for a business.

What is PPC?

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click advertising, is another form of online advertising where advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of their ads. These ads are typically displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) or on other websites that have agreed to display ads through an advertising network.

Unlike SEO, which focuses on producing helpful content to maximising a website’s keyword rankings, PPC advertising works by allowing advertisers to bid on specific keywords or phrases that are relevant to their products or services. So that, when someone types in a search query that matches their target keywords , the ads associated with them appear at the top or bottom of the search results page. This means that advertisers have the opportunity to reach customers who are actively searching for what they offer.

One of the main differences between SEO and PPC is that PPC advertising is by large more customizable. If you are running PPC ads to your site, you can choose who you want to see your ads based on factors like their location, device type, and demographics. This means that if you’re able to target the right people with the right message, you can speed up the process of converting clicks into customers.

Is PPC a short-term strategy?

PPC (pay-per-click) advertising can be a short-term marketing strategy that yields immediate results. Unlike SEO (search engine optimization), which usually takes months to rank for specific keywords, PPC campaigns can be set up and launched quickly. I would say that PPC is more ideal for businesses that want to quickly drive traffic to their website or promote a time-sensitive offer or event.

However, one of the potential drawbacks of PPC lies in its name - if you decide to only go down the PPC route, you’ll have to pay for all of the traffic you receive during your PPC campaign. As you can imagine, the cost of a PPC campaign can quickly add up, especially if the campaign is not optimised properly. Not to mention that you’ll probably have to compete with other businesses  for the same keywords, which can drive up the cost-per-click and make it more difficult to generate a positive return on investment. In addition to this, if you’re working with a marketing agency, such as ourselves you’ll probably have to pay them a monthly retainer to run and manage your PPC campaigns for you.

This is one of the reasons why we’re such big advocates of only doing PPC ads in tandem with SEO. By doing so, they can leverage the benefits of both approaches. For example, PPC ads can be used to test different ad copy and keywords quickly, enabling you to identify what works best for your target audience. This data can then be used to optimise your SEO strategy, which can lead to more sustainable and long-term benefits.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Before you decide whether to direct your focus towards PPC or  SEO, it’s important that you are aware of how search engines operate at their core. search engines use three main processes to provide search results: crawling, indexing, and ranking.

What is a Crawler?

A crawler (also known as a spider or bot) is a program that scans websites to find new and updated content. It follows links from one page to another, collecting information about each page it visits. When a crawler visits a website, it first checks the robots.txt file to see which pages it is allowed to crawl. It then sends a request to the server hosting the website, asking for the page's content. The server responds by sending the HTML code for the page, which the crawler then reads and analyses.

What's Indexing?

After a crawler has collected information about a webpage, it sends that information to the search engine's index. The index is a large database of information that contains details about each page the crawler has found.The search engine uses complex algorithms to analyse the information collected by the crawler and determine what the page is about. It then stores this information in the index, along with other important details like the page's title, meta tags, and URL.

What is Ranking?

Ranking is the process of organising search results based on their relevance to a user's search query. The search engine uses various algorithms to determine which pages are the most relevant and useful to the user. The search engine looks at many factors when ranking pages, including the page's content, the number and quality of links pointing to the page, and the page's overall authority and relevance. It then assigns a score to each page and displays the results in order of their score.

Does PPC Speed up This Process?

Now that you understand the process involved in getting your web pages to rank on search engines. It’s important that you also know that if you’re looking for a faster and more direct way to get your website noticed on search engines, PPC (Pay-per-click) might just be your golden ticket.

With PPC, you can simply pay search engines for every click that your website receives, bypassing the usual SEO process. This way you can drive more traffic to your site and potentially see quicker results.

Key factors affecting your website’s SEO

Before you can make an informed decision on whether to invest in SEO or PPC or both, it’s important that you are aware of the various ranking factors that determine where your website appears in the search engine results.

Content Quality

One of the most crucial factors affecting SEO is the quality of the content on a website. Search engines are designed to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality content possible, and they use complex algorithms to determine which content meets those criteria. Content quality is judged based on various factors, including the accuracy of information, the depth of coverage, and the level of expertise demonstrated in the content.

You should aim to only produce content that’s genuinely helpful to your target audience because that will enable you to establish something called topical authority.

Topical Authority

Topical authority is essentially a measure of how well a website understands its audience and their needs. It reflects the degree to which a website has established itself as an authoritative resource on a particular subject matter. Websites with high topical authority are viewed as reliable and trustworthy sources of information, and people are more likely to turn to them when they have questions or want to learn more about a specific topic.

Topical authority i's a key factor in determining a website's search engine rankings. Search engines like Google prioritise websites that are authoritative and trustworthy, and they use topical authority as one way to measure this. The more authoritative and informative your content is, the more likely it is to rank higher in search engine results pages.

What Factors Determine the Success of PPC Campaigns?

Running PPC campaigns on platforms like Google Ads can be a powerful tool for instantly  generating leads and sales. However, not all PPC campaigns are successful. In fact, most businesses who choose to manage their PPC campaigns in-house, without specialist help will inevitably struggle to see a positive return on investment from their advertising efforts and one of the reasons for this is because they overlook and undermine these key factors. So here are two factors you should always have in mind before your PPC campaign goes live.

Your target audience

The success of any marketing campaign hinges on understanding your target audience. When it comes to PPC advertising, this means knowing who your ideal customer is, what they're searching for, and what their pain points are. By targeting the right audience with the right message, you can increase the likelihood that they'll click on your ad and convert.

Your Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of any PPC campaign. Choosing the right keywords can make or break your campaign's success. When you’re selecting your keywords, consider the relevance of the search terms to your business, the search volume, and the level of competition. It's also important to use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant search terms that could waste your budget.I would recommend targeting long-tail keywords to begin with, as these tend to be less competitive and less expensive keywords to bid for.

Now, lets talk about when you should focus on your site's SEO and when you should focus on running PPC ads.

When Should you use SEO and When Should you use PPC?

As of right now, you may be wondering whether you should focus your efforts on SEO or PPC. But here’s the thing: you shouldn’t have to choose between the two. Why limit yourself to just one when you can have both? By combining the strengths of SEO and PPC, you can create a powerful marketing strategy that drives high-intent traffic and generates long-term results.

What are the Benefits of PPC?

Let’s start with PPC. Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to achieve quick wins and drive high-intent traffic to your website. With PPC, you can target specific keywords and audiences, ensuring that your ads are seen by the people who are most likely to convert. Plus, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, making it a cost-effective advertising strategy.

However, there is a downside to PPC. While it can generate immediate results, it is not a sustainable long-term strategy. Once you stop running your ads, your traffic will drop off. This is where SEO comes in.

What are the Benefits of SEO?

As I previously mentioned earlier on in the article, search engine optimization is a long-term game. It takes time and effort to build up your website’s authority and rank for your target keywords. But the payoff is worth it. Unlike PPC, where you can only target a limited number of keywords at a time, SEO allows you to rank for dozens (or even hundreds) of keywords with a single piece of content.

Not only that, but SEO is also a more cost-effective strategy in the long run. While PPC requires you to pay for every click, the traffic generated by SEO is organic and free. This means that once you have achieved a high ranking for your target keywords, you can enjoy a steady stream of traffic without having to pay for it.

Should you Combine SEO and PPC?

While SEO and PPC are both effective strategies on their own, they are even more powerful when combined. By using both strategies together, you can create a comprehensive marketing plan that generates both immediate and long-term results. Here are three strategies that demonstrate the power of combining SEO and PPC:

Using PPC to Test Keywords

One of the biggest challenges of SEO is knowing which keywords to target. With PPC, you can use your advertising budget to test different keywords and see which ones generate the most traffic and conversions. Once you have identified your top-performing keywords, you can then focus your SEO efforts on ranking for those keywords.

Implement SEO to Improve Your Quality Score

Quality Score is an important factor in determining the cost and effectiveness of your PPC campaigns. By improving your website’s authority and relevance through SEO, you can improve your Quality Score and lower your cost per click.

Use PPC to Fill in the Gaps

Even if you are ranking well for your target keywords, there may still be gaps in your search engine presence. By using PPC to target additional keywords and audiences, you can ensure that your brand is visible to as many potential customers as possible.

Always Double Down

In summary PPC and SEO are both effective marketing strategies on their own, they are even more powerful when combined. By using both tactics together, you can create a foolproof marketing plan that generates both immediate and long-term results. So, don’t limit yourself to just one strategy – embrace the power of combining SEO and PPC for maximum impact.

Want to Learn More?

Thanks for reading my article on SEO vs PPC! If you found it informative and want to learn more about how these strategies can benefit your business, let's connect. Book a free consultation call with me today and discover how we can work together to boost your online presence and drive more traffic to your website.

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About Author

Bekani Thulani


Bekani, founder of 99Solutions Marketing, seamlessly combines solar energy expertise with digital marketing acumen. Through compelling content, he simplifies concepts, motivates action, and communicates the tangible benefits of solar power.