PPC vs SEO: Differences, Pros and Cons

PPC vs SEO: Differences, Pros and Cons
Article by Bisera Stankovska
Last Updated: February 13, 2024

The digital marketing space is filled with untapped areas that can be highly beneficial for businesses if leveraged to their fullest.

Google accounts for 92.47% of the global web traffic, making it a hub for businesses looking to grab their customers’ attention.

Without much knowledge, companies may struggle to acquire leads and business. However, brands can integrate multiple digital marketing services into their strategy.

In this article, we discuss the two most prominent digital marketing services – SEO vs. PPC. Let’s take a look.

PPC vs. SEO: Quick Overview

SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click) are two different digital marketing strategies in the same realm. In a nutshell, SEO companies and their services drive organic traffic to the website, while PPC showcases paid ads on SERPs.

Want to know more about the right fit for your firm between SEO and PPC? Here’s a brief overview of the two strategies:

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What is SEO?

Different factors affect a company or website’s ranking on search engines, and an SEO strategy helps align them.

SEO strategies can be best incorporated through web pages and blogs.

These blogs may contain relevant keywords and links that improve a website’s visibility.

However, the content must be easy to read and must answer all queries, and the website structure should also be clear so that readers find what they are looking for.This can be achieved by an internal link mapping toolA successful SEO strategy also improves the quality and quantity of organic traffic.

On-page optimization is one of the main types of SEO, and it includes:

  • H1 tags and meta descriptions with keywords
  • Descriptive and keyword-included alt-texts
  • Seamless keyword integration in your content
  • Keywords in H2, H3, and H4

Incorporating relevant keywords helps search engines identify credibility, which increases the website’s ranking.

Meanwhile, off-page optimization includes:

  • Backlinks and inbound links
  • Influencer marketing
  • Guest blogging
  • Social media marketing
  • Links from customer review websites

What is PPC?

PPC showcases ads on the search engine, so that targeted users can see offers relevant to them. This model helps expand your reach quicker than SEO.

PPC requires paying every time someone clicks on the ad.

PPC ads can be customized based on location, gender, age, profession, and more. These ads can promote a deal, product, event, or downloadable content.

The most popular platform for PPC is Google Ads. Such comprehensive ads help measure ROI and identify ad performance, ones that need improvement, conversions, and bid requirements.

Moreover, Google Ads brings in $2 in revenue for every $1 spent, which is an excellent return on investment. Other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Quora, and Twitter, also use PPC.

The results can be backed by a substantial number — 26% of the Facebook users that click on an ad buy the product.





Immediate costs with each click. 

Relatively lower in the long run. 


Immediate, as soon as the campaign is live. 

Organic, takes time to build up. 

Traffic Source  

Paid advertisements on search engines. 

Organic search results. 

Time to Results  

Immediate results possible.  

Longer-term strategy. 


Full control over ad copy, targeting, etc. 

Limited control over ranking factors. 


Traffic stops when the campaign stops. 

Sustained traffic over time. 

Click-through Rate (CTR)  

Directly influenced by ad quality and relevance. 

Depends on organic ranking. 

Keyword Targeting  

Precise control over keywords and targeting. 

Important but less precise control. 


Can be quickly adjusted based on performance. 

Slower to adapt to changes in algorithms. 

User Intent  

Targets users with immediate buying intent. 

Captures users at different stages of the buying cycle. 

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SEO Advantages

To help businesses decide between PPC and SEO, we break down their pros and cons, starting with SEO. SEO offers the following benefits to businesses:

  1. Raises Brand Awareness
  2. Establishes Credibility
  3. Cost-Effectiveness

1. Raises Brand Awareness

Comprehensive SEO optimization through quality website content improves search engine rankings.

This visibility leads your prospect to discover your website and convert, making it a sustained source of traffic.

2. Establishes Credibility

Websites appearing on the top of search results are more trustworthy than the bottom ones. Thus, your position determines your credibility, authority, and trust.

Besides the position, organic search engine results can also be more trustworthy than PPC ads.

This leads to increased backlinks from trusted sites, which are highly favored by search engines.

3. Cost-Effectiveness

SEO can boost a website's digital presence, though generating results may take time. Besides other benefits, brands don’t need to pay search engines for visibility.

In the long run, it may be cheaper than PPC as you don’t have to spend money consistently to see results. Moreover, unlike PPC, the clicks are also free of cost.

It is also less costly compared to other outbound marketing strategies such as cold calling and print ads, where brands hardly make profits or generate leads by spending money.

SEO Disadvantages

While being a promising option, SEO comes with its fair share of challenges. Here they are:

  1. Fierce Competition
  2. Constantly Changing Algorith
  3. Time-Consuming

1. Fierce Competition

There are endless businesses vying for the top position, making the competition to make it to the first page fierce.

This will require you to pull up your socks as your competitors may also deploy refined and targeted strategies that can plummet your SERP rankings.

2. Constantly Changing Algorithm

Search engine algorithms continuously change, and keeping up with them requires professional third-party SEO services. While it takes time for you to get to the top position, maintaining that position is not guaranteed.

The reason is algorithm evolution, which requires constant checking for new updates. Brands may have to re-do the entire strategy from scratch if they lag.

Unlike PPC, you can’t pay search engines to rank the highest. Rather, they need to be parallel with the search engine’s standards.

3. Time-Consuming

While SEO is free, it may take time as it requires crawling, indexing, and identifying the website as trustworthy before showing results.

As mentioned above, brands need to produce SEO-optimized results to see a difference.

Since it can be time-consuming to learn and do it by oneself, opting for a professional is a wise choice as it saves time, money, and resources.

PPC Advantages

Here’s how PPC can be beneficial:

  1. Reaches Target Audience
  2. Targets Diverse Funnel Stages
  3. Overall Control
  4. Measurable Growth
  5. Boosts Sales

1. Reaches Target Audience

Personalizing Google ads to reach your target audience is a core PPC ad benefit.

This helps target a specific consumer group based on diverse factors such as demographics, location, language, device, previous visitors, and interests. This increases brand visibility so that your audience sees your ads before your competitors.

2. Targets Diverse Funnel Stages

A customer may be in different funnel stages and using the same PPC strategy for everyone might not yield the desired results.

PPC allows the creation of different content types, which meets every audience segment such as blog posts, guides, or case studies.

Hence, each customer segment can be targeted most effectively.

3. Overall Control

PPC ads can be highly versatile, based on assets like targeted geography, call-to-action buttons, links to the site, and pricing.

Likewise, your users can be directed anywhere you desire, so you have more freedom to showcase any desired landing page aspects.

The demographics can also be tweaked to create the desired results.

4. Measurable Growth

As soon as the ad goes live, you can see the results by seeing it on top of the SERPs.

Hence, measuring growth is also possible with PPC ads, helping brands gauge the revenue generated by paid ads.

5. Boosts Sales

As PPC ads show results as soon as they go live, it instantly boosts sales compared to SEO strategies.

Likewise, pausing the ads will also curb the results immediately, affecting the sales volume.

PPC Disadvantages

Here are some disadvantages of PPC:

  1. Can Be Costly
  2. Might Not Lead to Sales Automatically
  3. Requires Skills

1. Can Be Costly

Compared to SEO, PPC agency services and PPC itself can be costly.

Initially, it requires spending without creating revenue. In the later stages, it requires constant investment, meaning that ads stop once investment stops.

Controlling the spending and optimizing the campaign can take time, which leads to a higher cost, especially with a highly competitive keyword.

PPC costs may vary based on the keyword. The ranking of the keywords depends on the keywords you bid on. The factors are quality and relevance and the landing page the visitors are directed to.

Competitive keywords can cost hundreds of dollars, whereas low bids can lead you to miss the top spot. Bidding on the right keyword requires monitoring its performance regularly.

A quick tip is to aim for a strong quality score for your PPC to be cost-effective.

2. Might Not Lead to Sales Automatically

You can drive leads to the website, but that doesn’t mean that those leads may purchase from you. The PPC ads may merely focus on creating leads, while conversions aren’t guaranteed.

Taking a step back, not everyone will click on your ad either. If an ad is run for too long, it will lose its spark and people may ignore it. In the future, users might use ad blockers so that they are not bombarded again.

Instead, focus on personalizing ads to reach out to your customers effectively.

3. Requires Skills

Setting up a promising PPC campaign can be challenging.

Due to its complicated nature, it can only be handled by skilled professionals.

In either case, opting for A/B testing may help substantially to assess the best-performing assets, such as content, CTAs, images, and more. This improves ad performance and drives increased sales.

Since PPC costs money with every click while also being a promising medium to promote an offering, it is crucial for professionals to execute the task.

PPC vs. SEO: Key Takeaways

SEO and PPC strategies are used to boost sales, nurture leads, and increase online awareness. Choosing between PPC vs. SEO has been a lingering business dilemma for a long time. However, finalizing one strategy requires brands to consider multiple aspects in detail and we covered them all in this article.

Ultimately, you are not limited to having only one strategy — you can combine SEO and PPC to help you achieve the best of both worlds!


How is ranking different when comparing PPC vs. SEO?

In PPC, ranking is determined by the bid amount, ad quality, and relevance to user queries. Advertisers pay for ad placement, and higher bids often lead to better positions on the search results page.
In contrast, SEO ranking is organic and based on various factors like content quality, relevance, and site authority. SEO rankings take time to build and are not directly influenced by monetary bids.

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