SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Best? The Difference Between Them

Unlike other playbooks that comprise process flowcharts, operating procedures, and values, the digital marketing one is starkly different.

To begin with, the digital marketing playbook consists of a voluminous repository of keywords, search terms, and tracking data that include information sources – display, video, social, and search – that lead online users to brand or business websites.

However, despite the online space becoming a quagmire – chaotic and competitive – the two phenomena of interest are SEO and PPC. So profound are these that a designated SEO or PPC agency and the world over, try to find meaning in the scattered and surreal digital universe. Among the several platforms, a prominent one leading up to concrete results is Facebook ads.

Opening the Floor with SEO and PPC

Now that the digital marketing puzzle set revolves around these two phenomena, we begin by understanding them in detail. SEO or Search Engine Optimisation entails a flowchart that helps your brand achieve traffic, including both quality and quantity, towards your business website through ranking in the SERPs. In simpler words, SEO is a natural or organic lead generation tactic and only deals with unpaid search results.

Pay-Per-Click advertising is a paid advertising strategy wherein an advertiser gets charged when an online visitor clicks upon the ad. In essence, it is a tactic that entails buying visitors or clicks. Other concepts that make for a byproduct of PPC are Click Through Rate and impressions. Both are different, and if your brand or business is to avail of PPC advertising services, it is paramount that you understand these.

Click-Through Rate or CTR represents the percentage of online users clicking on your ad or product listing. Impressions metric is the number of screens on which ads or digital content appears. Even if an online visitor sees it and brushes past, it counts. Simply put, the CTR is an action-based metric, and Impressions are a non-action-based metric.

Getting into the Application and Usage of SEO and PPC

Benefits of SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is ideal for businesses seeking to grow their organic traffic. Although obtaining organic traffic is a challenging endeavour, it renders a higher ROI or Return On Investment. This is because brands need not shell out financials for every keyword they intend to rank.

More so, SEO renders higher credibility and sustainability. Since it runs on organic traffic, it is long-term and not easily replicable by competitors. The brand awareness and visibility levels go off the charts once your business or brand features on the top of a search engine such as Google or Bing.

Drawbacks of SEO

SEO is time-consuming and slow, and it can take a few months for your business or brand to receive traction and traffic. Another drawback is that SEO is continuous and ongoing. With that said, your company website or any page will never be fully optimised. The only way to do so is by continuously investing and upgrading your site with content.

Benefits of PPC

PPC is a strategy aimed at augmenting the niche targeted visibility. An avenue that helps attain this niche-targeted visibility is Google Ads. Spending money on this helps elevate the brand presence and recall value in the users’ and visitors’ minds. If you are pondering over setting up an account with Google Ads, it is paramount to keep in mind the checklist.

Type out a search query and, at the top of the page, you will see a couple of paid ad links; this renders quick visibility about your brand promotions and campaigns. Brands can target a specific set of users using demographic data, including age, location, date and time, and others.

Drawbacks of PPC

The financial aspect is pretty significant, and advertising and promotion costs can go up drastically. One of the values in the business playbook is – more the pay, the better the results. Aggravating this is the competitive landscape for keywords, which is already quite dense and scaled up for a further rise. PPC runs on bidding; researching and selecting the keywords is quite time-consuming.

PPC runs the risk of “Click Fraud”, wherein companies use manual clicks or low-quality software to simulate human clicks from different IP addresses. Another drawback is that it is easily replicable. The reason is that such information is accessible to companies through several tools such as the Audience Overlap Tool and Target outranking share.

Crossing the SEO versus PPC Bridge

Given the pros and cons entailing both these approaches, there is no definite answer as to which one is better. A lot depends on the time at hand, urgency, the industry and the budget.

The ideal world entails a blend of both SEO and PPC through synergy. This is akin to the contention that the whole is greater than the sum of parts. That is, SEO and PPC, when combined, drive results that are far greater than those achieved individually in the following ways:

  • For high-performing keywords, overall traffic can increase when targeting both paid and organic clicks.
  • High-cost keywords or low-converting keywords can be moved from PPC to SEO to curb the financial burden.
  • PPC tactic can make for an excellent testing forum for keywords before moving to SEO.
  • When combined, overall awareness, credibility, and confidence for the brand increase.


The digital playbook is constantly evolving and far from static. This has made the online space become an advertising and branding quagmire. Whatever said, the digital marketing gambit revolves around the phenomena of SEO and PPC.

The former helps drive organic traffic, and the latter is a paid advertising strategy that helps with niche audience targeting. Both tactics have benefits and drawbacks, and there is no clear-cut answer as to which of these is better. A profound method is to cross the SEO versus PPC bridge and combine them to drive up overall awareness, credibility and confidence of your company and brand.

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