SEO vs PPC : Which Digital Marketing Investment will Pay Off?

All these talks about SEO strategies and PPC campaigns may be confusing you. Learn more about the two key search engine marketing concepts so you can come up with better decisions for your business. In this article, we will see which digital marketing investment will pay off – SEO vs PPC.

Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to efforts to improve your ranking in search engines by way of organic traffic. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, on the other hand, lets you bid for placement in search results and pay only for the clicks you get. The two options have their own merits. Which is the better investment for you?

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SEO vs PPC – How they work?


  • SEO

Search engine optimization is the process of updating, adjusting, and editing your website so search engines like Bing and Google would deem it relevant to specific search terms. The ultimate goal is to get a good ranking on search results pages of the keywords your target audience or customers are using. For instance, if you are in the business of providing legal services in Quezon City, you would want to optimize your website so it ranks well for the keyword “legal service in Quezon City.”

  • PPC

Pay-per-click is a type of paid advertising offered by search engines via programs like Bing Ads and Google Adwords. Using the Bing and Adwords interface, you can choose which keywords to advertise for and how much you are willing to pay. You would have to bid higher if you want your ad to rank higher in the paid search results. You should also be prepared to pay more for the increased clicks you are likely to get.

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SEO vs PPC : Benefits And Challenges


  • SEO benefits

A well-optimized website lets you earn organic or free traffic. If properly optimized, your website will be able to naturally attract high quality, potential customers. Consequently, organic traffic generally leads to higher conversion rates.

SEO has the potential of becoming a “set investment” with infinite wins. This means the initial optimization efforts you devote to your site can result in years of sustainable traffic.

  • SEO challenges

You have to make sure your SEO is done right. It is easy to fall into the trap of ill-advised SEO practices that end up hurting your website instead of improving it. Moreover, if you have a big website or if there is much room for improvement, a full SEO of your site can be a herculean task. Plus, it can take a long time, even years, before you start seeing the results of your efforts.

There is another side to SEO, the off-site factors, that you need to take into consideration. These makeup around 50% of what determines your ranking. Off-site factors include links from other sites and social signals. They are not as easy to control as keywords and other on-site factors.

  • PPC benefits

One of the major benefits of PPC is that its results are immediate. Your ads will start appearing in search results and driving traffic as soon as you activate your ads. Although a paid option, PPC does not come with as much risks as traditional advertising mediums, as you would only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You also have the option to adjust your target, budget, and settings at any time.

With PPC, you can have your site appear at the top of search results for more keywords than you could achieve with SEO. Hindered only by budget constraints, there is practically no limit to the number of keywords you would like to advertise for. You can also direct the traffic you get from the ads to any page of your website, including landing pages customized to reach a certain type of audience.

  • PPC challenges

Just like SEO, PPC advertising needs to be done right. Although you are paying only for the traffic you are getting, you could easily be on the losing end if you are not targeting the right audience. Make sure you use the right keyword selections and that you are diligently tracking conversions. PPC requires constant monitoring and close management. It also increases your customer acquisition cost or cost-per-conversion. Such costs are much lower for SEO.

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SEO vs PPC : Which is the better digital marketing investment?


  • Short Term

If you are launching a new website, a new product or simply need a quick boost to your traffic, a PPC campaign through Adwords will give you just the traction you need.  A paid search advertising will result in a fairly constant ROI, with slight upward trends due to optimization tactics and good management that continually makes adjustments for better performance.

  • Long Term

If done right, the benefits of SEO can be enormous. The gains from your initial investment will be more than you’d have expected. Once you’ve got the balls rolling, the inflow of organic traffic will speak for the merits of your campaign. The drawback is that there is never a guarantee of positive results when it comes to SEO. You can only do so much to influence the outcome on Google or any search engine. Plus, some industries are simply too competitive. But putting the best SEO practices in place will definitely increase your chances of getting ahead.

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SEO vs. PPC: The Better Option For You


When choosing between SEO and PPC, you need to determine the advertising budget you are willing to churn out. Set a specific daily spending limit. If you cannot commit any money to advertise, you may stick with free SEO methods. If you have the resources, it is best to give PPC advertising a try as this option will let you conduct faster testing for keywords that bring in the most conversion. You also get to shield your site from SEO algorithm updates that could easily tank your ranking.

More than just setting your advertising budget, you need to check how much your competitors are paying for ads. PPC platforms often allow users to bid for a single keyword click, which eventually determines the cost-per-click (CPC). While the CPC for the dating industry can go as low as $0.19, you can expect to pay as much as $5.88 for the legal industry. You would have to check the going rate for your industry to see if this is a viable option for you. You can use the Traffic Estimator available for free at the Google External Keyword Research Tool to check the average CPC for any given keyword.

You should also determine just how competitive the search engine results pages (SERPs) are in your niche. Simply enter the relevant keyword into the Google External Keyword Research Tool, and you will get the estimated competition level, average CPCs, and the number of advertisers bidding on your keywords. If you are operating in a highly-competitive industry, you will find that the results pages are dominated by authority websites. In this case, you will have no better option than to invest in PPCs as it will be nearly impossible to displace major sites from the top spot.

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How To Benefit From Both Options


Although there are exceptions, the best strategy is to mix both SEO and PPC together. This is especially true for new websites. You can bring in immediate traffic and sales through PPC. This will have you starting off strong and earning resources to fund your SEO campaign. Once the results from your SEO start kicking in, you can start phasing out Adwords and rely on organic traffic instead. If Adwords is bringing in more traffic than it is costing you, then you should continue using it. Keep any form of marketing that is proving to be an investment, not an expense.

You may also continue using Adwords for the keywords that are not yet ranking well organically. You can even advertise for keywords that are already ranking well, just so you can cover all your bases. Your website will have a maximized presence in Google, improving the chances of getting clicked. This is a good tactic for search terms that you would like to boost. Use Adwords to run a variety of keywords, ultimately testing their value. This will give you insights that you can use for your rigorous SEO campaign.

Allow the data to do the talking for you, and be willing to make adjustments and improve your strategy as you go.

Jason Garcia: Jason is a manager of a family enterprise and a business specialist. He writes articles about business, digital marketing, how to invest and secure homes. You can follow him on Twitter .

View Comments (21)

  • Jason Garcia,
    found this post very useful for me because this had clearly dexcibing the difference between SEO vs PPC. Both of them our beneficial.
    Kindly please make one more query clear for me would this SEO is sufficient for digital marketing or Both ?

  • No doubt the ppc gives you a quick response but its very costly. Now Doubt that Seo requires investment too but its results are long-lasting.

  • I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your
    content. This great article has really peaked my interest.
    I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week.
    I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  • Hi,
    Awesome writeup!

    SEO is the best and always a promising way.

    Keep up the good work...

  • Hello ,
    I think Seo is better then PPC because it is free of cost , then it works in long term manner, then better results can be gain through seo.

  • SEO takes a lot of time and effort to kick in, so if you have the budget definitely use PPC advertising to get your website known, because otherwise you might run months with low to no traffic until all of the SEO works starts kicking in.

  • I should say if you are going to compare seo and ppc, i strongly advice that we should choose choose seo because it is free and it is organic

  • Awesome article. I loved the way you explained everything. According to my way, the better idea will be investing in PPC first and improve leads, while working on that do SEO as well which will give you a boost from initial the stage.