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SEO or PPC: The Biggest Puzzle For Advertisers

Updated on November 21st, 2022 at 06:46 am

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When it comes to website traffic boost, one can opt for these two basic options: Search engine optimization and pay per click.

The commonest questions asked by the stakeholders, be it small or medium sized businesses, is: SEO or PPC- which one is better for any brand?

The primary difference between SEO (Search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) lies in the fact that the amount of traffic is free coming from the organic searches, that is , SEO and the traffic generation from PPC costs a price, as is evident from its name, pay per click.

Yahoo search marketing and Google AdWords provides PPC advertising programs that can be used for traffic boosting. These platforms enable you to display the ads in the sponsored results of the SERP (search engine results page). Then you have to pay an amount depending on the competitive nature of the selected keywords and you have to pay the fee whenever a user clicks on your ad.

Also, you can build traffic for free of cost through the achievement of high ranking positions in the natural search results in the form of listings lying next to the sponsored results. But you need to follow the best practices of SEO and then your ads can get displayed on the pages in a more prominent way and more frequently. You may have to be a little patient waiting for your ads to get on top of the search results page but this free of cost targeted traffic can prove well and is worthy of your invested time.

These 3 aspects should be kept in mind while deciding the best among PPC and SEO for your business.

The size of advertisement budget of your business:-

While selecting between SEO and PPC, you should first decide the size of your advertising budget that your company can afford and support in the long run. You can set the daily spend limit at a low rate but for the initial stages it is good to start with a minimum daily budget of $5-$10.

If you cannot afford to bear the costs for advertising, then you must stick with SEO. But if you can spend a little capital for PPC investment, then you must give it a try for PPC can offer you a wide range of benefits.

  1. The number of average CPCs in the industry:-

Besides, setting the overall budget for advertising your company, you should take notice of how much the others are paying for running ads. PPC platforms allow the users to bid the preferable amount that they want to pay for a single click that is, cost per click. But CPCs can run much higher on an average and these prices can make it a bit difficult for the new advertisers to turn profits from PPC traffic. In this case, SEO can be a better choice.

  1. Competitive SERPs:-

You need to determine the rate of competition of the search engine results page for the targeted keywords. You should enter your keywords in the Google external keyword Research tool that can tell you the estimated level of competition along with the number of advertisers those who bid on your keywords as well as average CPCs. One might find the SERPs dominated by the authorized sites for the industry is highly competitive. But this is impossible without a good investment of time and money. If such be the cases, then it is sensible to pay for traffic through PPC.



But you should keep in mind that it is not necessary to make a choice between SEO and PPC. When both of these are combined, the results are quite powerful hence you may consider the optimal mix of SEO and PPC for the betterment of your website.

What is Search engine optimization?

SEO or search engine optimization happens when your website gets optimized and it can achieve higher rankings in terms of organic search results. Google is the most used search engine and it boasts the fact whether a website will get a rank on the SERP and it is Google that allows a website to show up in the organic search results. When your website gets a high rank in the results page, it sustains for a while and you can notice sustained traffic coming in from this. The organic results usually have a high CTR (click through rate) in comparison to paid ads. SEO takes a bit of time to build the authority and then get indexed for the search terms to involve subsequently so it is a long term project. Technically, it is free but it takes a huge investment for the complete optimization of your website along with a lot of resources.

SEO is not just optimization of a website or its content and achieving higher ranks in the organic search results through targeted keywords, it is much more than that. SEO also provides your website an authority on the given topic and provides a solution to the upcoming issues. Top search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing find out the nature of audience interaction with a website and when the visitors return back to the website or when other companies link their sites to your website, this means that you have become the leading authority.

What is Pay per click?

Pay per click or PPC is an advertising model where you need to pay for each single click your ad get. The commonest form of PPC advertising is through search engines. You need to bid for your ads for showing them if a user searches any keyword relevant to the products or services offered by your business. PPC ads can also be used on various social media platforms including Facebook where the ads get served to individuals based on their demographics, interests and preferences and some other specifications. The amazing factor behind PPC is there is an immediate traffic boost once the PPC campaign is launched.

Different advertising platforms are present in PPC and one can choose the offer which will help to target options for targeting the audience. PPC traffic has higher conversion rates in comparison to the organic traffic.

But one of the downfalls of pay per click campaigns is that the advertisers have to pay for the ads to appear. There is an immediate boost but you need to invest some time for learning the process of development of optimization of the campaign ads for this is vital for achieving the most out of your PPC campaigns. Shorter campaigns can give good results but as soon as you turn off the campaign, the traffic incoming will also fade away.

PPC is the payment for the space used for advertisement using targeted keywords for the SERPs. But do not think that PPC is a “set and forget it” situation for search engine optimization is necessary should be done while creating the PPC campaign.

Where lays the difference between SEO and PPC?

The primary difference between pay per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) is that the incoming traffic from SEO is organic, that is free but PPC on the other side is not free and the traffic generation costs you per click, as the name goes, pay per click.

But both SEO and PPC are part of SEM (search engine marketing) which is a tool used for overall internet marketing campaign.

Organic search vs paid search advertisement

You can expect to find the PPC ads above the organic search results as well as on the bottom. This depends on several factors such as

  • Targeted keywords
  • Keywords in ad copies
  • Keywords in landing pages

But the ads will be visible on the top or at the bottom of organic search results. Organic results appear only at the middle of the page and the placement of your listing depends on the rate of optimization of your website in terms of both on-site and off-site SEO.

PPC: you need to pay for each single click for getting your ad on the first page

SEO: you can achieve first place positions when your website pages are optimized for search engines.

Cost: SEO traffic is free but PPC is paid but you need to keep in mind that it takes a lot of hard work and effort to achieve traffic from the search engines.

There is high competition for each keyword searched and you need to have a high-quality website along with a good SEO plan to get onto the top positions.

PPC costs, on the other hand, depend on some factors. Google AdWords is the most popular PPC platform and the cost depends on the following:

  • Keyword popularity
  • Number of advertisers using the specific keyword
  • Number of related websites securing ad positions with the specific keyword

The good news about PPC is that you only need to pay for the clicks received by your ad by the users, not for the views.

It might sound a bit complicated for it probably is, despite the several efforts made by Google to make the procedure much easier. If you are not much comfortable with the execution of the PPC methods, the best thing to do is to hire a PPC expert.

You can determine the daily budget in advance and you don’t need to pay any more money than what you have calculated the estimate for the average CPC for the keywords selected for targeting.

The picture you see in the screenshot can provide you with an estimate for CPC for every single keyword.

SEO: SEO cost is indirect so you cannot get onto the first page but you need to pay for the SEO services if you yourself cannot do it.

PPC: you need to pay only when someone clicks on your ad. You may use the Google keyword tool for the calculation of your expenses.

Traffic potential: Again, there is again confusion between SEO and PPC as to which is more helpful for traffic incoming.

Organic traffic or SEO is more than the traffic from PPC so if you are successful in managing your website rankings in terms of the keywords, then you get more traffic in comparison to your expenses for keywords.

When compared to traffic and cost of first page positions for the traffic of PPC and SEO, then the results come in favor of organic traffic that is SEO. Some studies, however, suggest that PPC ads can get the number of clicks than the organic ads but it costs more.

If it seems rather difficult to obtain first positions on Google pages for a keyword, then you have no other option than paying for traffic for rankings on second or third pages might bring you no or very little traffic.

SEO: organic traffic continues until the time you rank on one of the top positions.

PPC: PPC ads get you more clicks but you need to pay more too.


Which visitors convert more, that is, make a buy or subscribe to the newsletter or at the least response to the calls for action, those coming from organic searches (SEO) or coming from? The question arises again.

If the ads are well optimized and highly targeted, then the visitors coming from PPC are more likely to convert in comparison to the visitors coming from organic searches. a web-page gets rankings for different keywords and the visitors might be searching for the keyword that is exactly the same as the product presented in a particular page of a website.

If you are running a successful PPC campaign, then it is evident that you will get only the clicks from the users who are completely interested to buy your products and services.

SEO: organic traffic may be superior when compared to the other forms of traffic, for instance, social media traffic but for conversions, SEO is not so good as PPC traffic.

PPC: optimized keywords generate more  number of conversions but the cost will be more.

Ease of use

Neither PPC nor SEO is easy if you lack the required knowledge and experience.

SEO needs more time and lots of effort and it may take months and years together to get you good rankings for particular terms or may not rank.

On the other hand, if you want to get good results with PPC and Google AdWords, you should then opt for a course on PPC or hire a PPC expert who can help you and save you from losing quite a few hundred dollars which you would otherwise waste without understanding the working procedure of PPC.


There are 2 major differences between SEO and PPC:

  1. Paid ad appears at the top of the search results page above the organic listings influenced by SEO.
  2. Traffic from the organic listings via SEO is free. But the PPC traffic bears a cost per click.

In a few cases, PPC and SEO works best together when they are integrated as well as aligned strategically.

Search engine optimization (SEO):


  1. Cost effectiveness: Organic SEO is really cost effective. The set up and management cost of PPC campaigns are almost the same as SEO but PPC bears an additional cost of the continuous charges of the clicks set up for the campaign.
  2. Long lasting: proper optimization of a website can help to maintain a higher position in terms of search results even after the PPC campaign has been turned off long before.
  3. Search engine positioning remains stable whereas PPC positions change on a continuous basis depending on the bidding tactics of the competitors. Well optimized websites with good link authorities as well as rich content are successful in holding the search engine ranking position even if you choose to step away for a month’s time from Search engine optimization.


  1. SEO is slow when compared to PPC for it can take up to months from the period of optimization of your website till you start viewing results. But PPC starts giving you immediate leads.
  2. It is an ongoing process and your website will never be fully optimized. It gets optimized more and more as you put more and more work to it. But the good thing is that your rankings get better day by day and you might be getting rewards of your SEO investment in the long run.
  3. SEO is much time consuming particularly if you do t by yourself. You can opt for buying the SEO tools or hire an SEO expert and this costs you money but saves your time.

Pros and cons of organic traffic from search engines:

  1. Awareness: visibility of search engines for the targeted keywords can bring your business at the forefront and in front of potential customers in the same way as advertising for driving brand awareness.
  2. Branding: visibility around the commercial keywords and information or queries related to your business can give you positive branding benefits. Your brand can be associated and trustworthy for the searchers who seek information while conducting researches prior to making purchases.

Some benefits of SEO are as follows:                                  

Build up of credibility and trust: your website can return to the organic results and this have a great influence on the perceived credibility along with an audience those who are searching for your site. Many people tend to skip ads and they have a trust on the organic results more than anything else. You can then get the stamp of approval if your website gets proper visibility. A strong review and reputation signals can also offer additional benefits to you website.

Site traffic: increase of website traffic can provide you with the opportunity of creating awareness for your business as well as educating the prospects about why they should choose you and purchase from you.

CPC (cost per click): organic search traffic is free. The visibility development will be time consuming and also requires some efforts but no direct charges for the impressions and clicks.

ROI (returns on investment): organic search engine traffic provides improved ROI in comparison to the traditional methods of paid media. The ROI is better than PPC.

Cost: SEO is neither easy to do nor it is cheap. But yes, it can be cost effective when compared to the other marketing techniques in terms of creating awareness or delivering potential traffic to the website.

Sustainability: organic traffic do not dry up like PPC (paid search marketing) even when you stop payments and you business can be sustained by the efforts for development of organic traffic even when you cut back the marketing spends.

Improved CTR (click through rate): a great percentage of users click on organic results but there are some exceptions to this rule. You can generate greater number of clicks more from the top ranking organic listing than the highly placed paid ads.

More number of clicks: you might be willing to have listings both in paid as well as organic results for maximizing the rate of visibility and number of clicks. Keyword experimentation is required to check if you are wasting your money for clicks that can be free or you are getting increasing number of clicks and CTR both for organic and paid results. But strong visibility rate is required for both organic and paid results for maximization of results in the true sense.

Increasing scope: with numerous queries coming everyday you need to have strong organic visibility for maximizing your scope. You would neither want to pay for every kind of click nor advertise for every content present on your website.

Strategic advantages: organic search visibility is neither easy nor comes rapidly. This is both good and bad. The good thing is once you have a strong establishment in terms of organic results, you can get a strategic advantage over your competitive businesses those who rely on paid searches.

But it is not always sunshine and rainbows and SEO have several drawbacks too. Organic traffic in many cases can be slow and you might feel weak. While starting SEO for the first time, your selected keywords for targeting can show dominated results by the pioneers like eBay and Amazon, and then or strategies need modifications. You may also require developing rich content for achieving strong visibility rates. Many companies might not have sufficient in-house resources for tackling the content development and this can be problematic. Link building can be a difficult strategy to master but sometimes, these strategies are required along with expert support.

PPC offers laser targeted visibility

PPC search engine advertising is the purchasing of clicks and visitors from Google and other search engines. You can easily leverage the traffic incoming from search engines through paying and bidding for keywords relevant to the products and services offered by your business.


  1. Instant results: Once your PPC campaign starts, you start seeing instant traffic incoming, more clicks and greater conversions. On the other hand, SEO can take up to months before you start seeing your website move to the higher search engine results.
  2. Scalable and controllable: while setting your budget you can get a decent idea of the number of leads that you get in return. This can provide you with an estimate of your exact budget for digital marketing. SEO, on the other hand, can take more time and more money when the company or the target location you are focusing is highly competitive.
  3. Fewer worries: you need not worry for the search engine algorithm and its impact n your ranking while using PPC. You bid on the highest spots so the organic rankings doesn’t actually matter. But with SEO, you need to be perfect with the standards of your website to match with Google’s standards for optimization or else you lose your rank or be fined for practicing unethical tactics.


  1. You need to pay in order to acquire good results. The more you pay; the better will be the results. The competition remains very high for the keywords and this means that you have to pay more in the future for the same results you are getting now.
  2. The research and selection of potential keywords is much time-consuming. The complete management including spending on the keywords, calculating returns from investment, adjustment of expenses- you need to engage yourself basically in a full time job. You have to spend a lot of time if you want to do it yourself or you need to hire a PPC specialist and he can run a proper campaign on your behalf.
  3. PPC stops providing leads once you turn off PPC. If you decide to divert into something else from PPC, then you have to manage a lot for surviving with the leads you got naturally. SEO lasts long and as it is never completely done, it acts like a rolling snowball. It might take time to get going and also slows down at intervals but once it takes the momentum, it doesn’t stop.

Some benefits offered by PPC are:

Page positioning: paid searches dominate the page. PPC ads appear as 4 on the desktop view and as 3 on the mobiles, the users have no choice than to see the PPC ads in spite of scrolling past them.

Improved ads: PPC ads are advertisements where you can have more granular control as well as greater space for the delivery of the marketing messages. Calls, site links, callouts, locations, and pricing are the options for dominant ad creations for your website page.

Visual ads: while your product is on sale, Google provides you with the choice of visual shopping ads such as product listing ads (PLAs), etc. This can help the users view exactly what they are clicking on. These ads can be helpful in improving the CTR (click through rate) by offering features that are unavailable in the organic searches.

Brand visibility: you are seen by the right audience when you run paid search ads. Even if the customers back off and search for a brand before they click on your website, the visibility will provide you dividends.

Budget: PPC allows you to have tight control over the budget. You need to determine the ad expenses you are willing to spend on a daily basis and then set the fixed limit.

Targeting: PPC offers you laser targeted ways and eases for you to get viewed in front of potential audiences. Ads are targeted by various ways- searching keywords, time, days of a week, language, geography, device and the type of audience based on their previous visits.

Speed: good organic visibility can be time-consuming but PPC campaign can be made within days and within a few weeks, it can be ramped up. There is no faster way than PPC to get viewed in front of customers at the exact moment when they are ready to buy.

Agility: one can get rapid feedback on the launch of a new product through running short PPC ad campaigns.

Marketing intelligence: organic searches hide keyword data under the name of privacy but with PPC, there lie no such restrictions. You can determine the conversion rate of keywords, their costs, and percentage of conversion through tools such as conversion tracking and Google Analytics.

A/B test: split test ads, landing pages as well as call-to-action buttons are available for determining locations of the best results. This information may be fed back into other traditional as well as digital marketing events.

Stability: Google AdWords do not suffer from the same turbulence organic results do. Changes are present but they tend to have a low impact and they can be managed easily. You should be careful while using the match types as well as while analyzing the search term reports for removing the junk search and bringing an increase in the ROI.

Cost: despite the usual belief of advertisers, PPC accounts can be set up and the management can be done at a very low cost and lead generation can come into your business. If you are running a local business, you should be targeting a smaller geographical area and less keyword. Then you can generate number of leads without breaking the bank. Your account can be further optimized for lowering the costs as well as increasing the returns on investment (ROI).

The true strengths of PPC are truth and expansiveness. You can get onto the first page in terms of targeted keywords with PPC only within a single day’s time. The search terms might cost anything right from a single penny to a number of dollars to execute a proper PPC campaign. But if you want a correct PPC campaign to be done for your website,it is best that you should hire a PPC specialized firm that can provide full-time management for your PPC. Hence, PPC campaigns become a bit expensive when done correctly but give quick results.

Compared to organic search, PPC or paid search advertising has more benefits. However, there are a few pitfalls along with it too. And advertisers must be aware of these drawbacks.

PPC can be expensive and it is not always that these costs can be added up quickly. when you are targeting the entire country or running the campaigns abroad, the costs can escalate.

PPC and SEO works best when together:

Both SEO and PPC should be looked at. Both of them have pros and cons. The amazing fact is that they work best while they support each other when united. With SEO and PPC working together, you can be able to drive greater results in comparison to the component parts.

Benefits of PPC and SEO working hand in hand:

  1. Conversion data as well as keyword data from PPC can be fed into SEO (organic search)
  2. The total traffic volume is increased by the targeting clicks for high performance keywords in both organic and paid searches.
  3. High-cost search terms, high volume and low conversion keywords move from PPC to SEO.
  4. A/B tests of ad copies as well as landing pages can be fed into organic listing and landing pages of your website.
  5. Remarketing makes you stay viewed in front of the audience after the initial stages of SEO. It also allows you to customize messages depending on the engagement of the visitors on your site.
  6. Your keyword strategies can be tested in PPC before the commitment to long term SEO strategies.
  7. Researches, comparisons, and purchases with commercially used keywords- all the stages of customer journeys are considered for user targeting.
  8. The confidence level and awareness is increased by having both PPC and SEO visibility.

The integrated strategies of both PPC and SEO can be the optimal approach according to experienced professionals. You can achieve improved results in every channel through the utilization of both organic and paid results. This might not be effective for every business but for aggressive marketing,, you need to develop a comprehensive strategy for the search engine unlike considering SEO or PPC singly.

Are organic searches better than the paid searches?

As said earlier, It all depends on how you use them. Your web marketing strategies needs addition of SEO for the long run. The greatest advantage of Search engine optimization is that it can bring in quality leads to your business. in fact according to statistics, of  many of the users  even avoid the PPC or paid results section of a page while searching the internet and browsing Google pages.  It is more likely that SEO visitors trust you and your business along with the products. When you acquire a high ranking position on Google search results page through use of a specific keyword or a search phrase, it is a sign of great achievement and thus you may be seen as a credible source and reliable by the audience. You also become an important contributor in your niche.  But with all these good things, never trick yourself with the thought that SEO is free, no matter what in the initial stages, SEO will cost you something. It will cost you a lot of time and patience.

SEO or PPC: which one is right for your business?

If you have a limited budget or you face a confusion while making a decision between the two marketing pactices- SEO and PPC, you need to consider a few factors other than those decided earlier.

The staying power of organic searches outweigh when compared to paid searches.

Here are some of the factors that needs examination:

  1. The present status of your company website
  2. The level of organic visibility of your site
  3. Use of paid searches at present or in the past
  4. Website and brand goals
  5. Origin of the major site traffic
  6. How the brands, products and services of your website fit to the searchers or buyers

Most of the future steps depend on the unique scenario of the brands of your website, your goals and the type of audience you want to convert.

The bottom line: PPC first and then SEO

The bottom line lies in the fact that one needs to use both SEO and PPC as a part of digital marketing campaign for your website.

PPC bring you rapid results so that you can be successful in running a PPC campaign and check the type of keywords which bring more conversions. After this, you can try with SEO for achieving good rankings for the keywords.

You should opt for PPC when you have a product with high conversion rates and use SEO when you are having a limited amount of budget kept for ad spends.

SEO might be a bit time consuming but you can get long-lasting results but with PPC, the moment you stop paying for the clicks, the traffic incoming also stops.

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Biplab PoddarView all posts

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Biplab Poddar

Biplab Poddar is the Founder & CEO of Oxedent. He is a Google Ads Lover and CRO Strategist. He Helped 250 plus businesses to launch their first PPC campaigns as well as optimize the campaigns to get maximum out of their ad spend.

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