Jan 3, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to SEO and PPC: What's the Difference?

Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
The Ultimate Guide to SEO and PPC: What's the Difference?
Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
Jan 3, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to SEO and PPC: What's the Difference?

If you're in the search engine optimization or PPC world, you know the difference between them. But what are they? And why is it important? This article explores the differences between SEO and PPC to help you understand better.
The Ultimate Guide to SEO and PPC: What's the Difference?

Table of contents

The Internet is becoming increasingly more important for businesses and individuals, but it has also made life a lot more complicated.

The first question that pops into our mind when we hear about SEO vs PPC is: Which of these two methods is better?

Well, this SEO vs PPC debate has been going on for years now and there is still a tussle between the SEO experts and PPC experts about which one is better and more important.

Both SEO and PPC are part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which is an indispensable part of an overall internet marketing campaign.

Yet, this post has managed to answer which is a better marketing strategy among SEO and PPC advertising.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of using various strategies to improve the visibility and ranking (in search engines) of a website or web page.

Search engine optimization involves optimizing all elements on your site, from title tags and meta descriptions down to individual words in each document:

In other words, SEO is the process of generating organic traffic to your website and gaining natural leads. Being a part of your site is important when it comes to Search Engine Optimization because search engine spiders are the ones that find and index websites.

However, the definition of SEO has changed over time with changing industry trends and Google's algorithm updates. That's what makes SEO a challenging one for the newbies and even for the pros.

Pros of SEO

Organic SEO is very cost-effective

Organic SEO is very cost-effective as compared to PPC marketing. It involves paying for content creation and optimization. In the long run, it can save you a lot of money. What makes PPC less cost-effective is its continuous click charges.

Organic search drives more than 50% of all web traffic. And that's a lot of traffic you can capture and bring to your website without spending much money on marketing strategies or advertisements.

Organic SEO is a long term

Organic SEO is a long-term tactic that takes time and effort. But, the amount of time taken to pay for the SEO effort is always worth it.

A well-optimized blog page can pay long-lasting results and bring in higher ROI than a short term PPC campaign would.

The only catch is you need to constantly update the page to make sure the users are served with updated information.

People trust organic results

Organic results are the ones that users trust. The only reason people even consider paid search is because their first choice did not have any useful information for them to find what they were looking for.

Thus, people tend to trust the algorithms more than paid campaigns.

If you rank organically, it helps people to trust you more as well as get more traffic and reap the benefits of SEO.

Increase website traffic

SEO can also help you in bringing more visitors to your website. More visitors will lead to higher sales, conversion rates, and many other benefits that are hard to estimate.

Besides more traffic, it also brings quality traffic to the site. If your keyword intent is clear, the traffic to your website will be mostly the users that are searching for what you expect them to be.

Cons of SEO

SEO takes time

SEO takes a lot of time and effort. It is the best marketing tool for businesses to get leads but it still needs care. SEO is not a one-time activity, you need to keep on doing it constantly to achieve success.

That said, there is no overnight success for SEO.

SEO requires unique and authoritative content

SEO is a lot more than just a process of writing, but the content that you produce has to be unique and authoritative in order to be considered SEO-friendly.

With the changing algorithm and increasing competition, search engines are focusing on quality content that is unique and seems legitimate. The more useful your content is, the better chance you have of ranking well in search engines.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising) is a form of online advertising that allows advertisers to pay for ads based on the number of times their ad is clicked.

This type of advertising is a cost-effective way to reach a large audience. PPC ads allow you to bid on keywords and phrases, or select from a list of suggested keywords, and then pay only when an ad is clicked.

It is an easy and fast way of finding potential customers by paying for keywords in search engines like Google and Bing, which are related to the product/service you offer in return for adhering ads on.

Pros of PPC

PPC is fast

One of the areas where businesses prefer PPC ad campaigns over SEO is because of its quick results.

There are no uncertainties involved when it comes to PPC, as you know exactly how much money will be paid for every click of your ads and what the exact keyword has been that attracted a user's attention.

You can turn to any ad platform and start your campaign right away.

PPC allows quick experimentation

PPC allows businesses to test their ads and see if the campaign is performing well before investing too much in it.

The flexibility of PPC allows quick experimentation with different ad copy, landing pages, landing page templates, and ad copy templates.

The performance of your ads can be easily optimized with different ad copy and landing page templates. It also helps you to find the right keywords for your campaign.

No worries about search engine results ranking

Since the PPC advertising campaign is a paid one, you don't need to optimize your site for the On-Page SEO.

One of the major perks of paid ads is that you would get the top spot or bottom spot on the first page of the search engine.

Cons of PPC

PPC can get expensive

PPC is very expensive, especially when you are new to it. It can be expensive for two reasons:

1. You need to pay for the cost of ads and make sure that you get the most out of your ad spend.

2. You need to make sure that you are targeting the right people and for the right keywords, etc.

PPC can lose effectiveness

PPC can lose effectiveness with the decrease in clicks.

If you have a PPC campaign, then you need to make sure that you have a proper implementation of PPC. It is necessary to track the performance of your campaign and analyze it.

Organic Traffic vs. Paid Search Advertising

Now, here is the comparison between SEO and PPC head-to-head.

Position in Search Results

PPC ads always appear at the top and bottom of the search engine's first page. Organic listings always appear in the middle of the page.

As with PPC, you can get your ads on the first page by paying a higher cost per click. In SEO, you need to follow standard algorithms combined with On-Page and Off-Page SEO.


As said, SEO is completely free whereas PPC campaigns may require you to invest in paid ads. But, the freebies don't come easy.

In SEO, the competition is high for the single phrase or even some longtail keywords. You need to create a great SEO strategy to get to the SERPs or hire an SEO expert for the same.

Thus, SEO campaigns may need more hard work than investing money. If you have a large budget to spend and want quick results, then PPC ad campaigns turn out to be a better choice.

The success of PPC depends on various factors. The cost of running the paid ads may vary on the ad platform.

For example, the cost of running Google ads may be varied on factors like the popularity of the keyword, the number of advertisers who want to use the particular keyword, the number of websites that have ad positions for the particular keyword, and many more.

However, the good part is that you can set a budget for PPC ad campaigns.

Traffic potential

Both SEO and PPC are effective ways to generate traffic to your website.

However, when it comes to ranking in search engines, SEO is more preferable over PPC because the former is a long-term strategy while the latter can only be effective for short periods of time.

The chances of getting clicked on the first 5 positions are higher than the ad results on the top of the page as well.

So, if you compare traffic and the cost of first page positions for SEO traffic and PPC traffic, organic is better. There are some studies suggesting that PPC ads get more clicks than organic but they might not be completely accurate well as every other study there is on this issue also gives different results.


Which mode of marketing will tend to get more conversion?

If you have highly targeted ads then a visitor from PPC is more likely to convert than one coming directly. That depends on the bidding amount as well as your PPC ads headline and descriptions.

One reason that SEO can gain more conversion is that it will gain attention from various search terms.

Ease of use

This is a hard pill to swallow but neither SEO nor PPC is easy to do if you don’t have the necessary knowledge and experience.

SEO is a very time-consuming process. It may take months or even years to rank for certain keywords or not at all! Besides this, the user has to adapt to the changing algorithms and Google updates.

Another roadblock is the hard competition for a high volume keyword.

You can't afford to drain your budget into PPC ad campaigns if you are unaware of how it works. Even if you have got some basics about PPC, it is always a good idea to hire a PPC expert or read some useful guides on the Internet.

How to make SEO and PPC work for you?

Most brands and enterprises focus on a strategy where SEO and PPC may work in tandem. You can use a PPC campaign to drive traffic, but you should make sure that the search terms are relevant for your business.

Here are some quick ways to leverage SEO and PPC together:

1. Create retargeting ads

Retargeting ads are one of the best ways to make SEO and PPC work for you. With retargeting ads, you can create a targeted ad that reaches your customers even after they've left your website.

It allows you to reach out to people who have already been on your website and might be interested in your products or services.

For example, various people may read about our SEO Assistant and its capabilities. While some may sign up with the free account, some may not realise about our 7-day free trial.

So, we can come up with a retargeting technique to create targeted ads on Facebook and various social media platforms.

2. Promote website content with social media ads

SEO and PPC can be used to promote website content with social media ads. You can use these channels to promote a site by creating a Facebook Ad, Tweet, or by setting up a campaign on AdWords.

You can use only the right keyword in a search engine campaign, but it will not work if you are unaware of how search engines work or you don't know what is considered "relevant" based on your business needs.

3. Collect data From ads to improve your SEO strategy

The first step in making SEO and PPC work for you is to collect data from ads to improve your SEO strategy.

You can create detailed reports to analyze which keywords are the most popular and which ads are performing the best. You can optimize your ads to increase their click-through rate and get more clicks on your site.

Final Thoughts

Both SEO and PPC are effective strategies for your marketing efforts. The challenge is to decide which one would work better for you.

Both SEO and PPC campaigns require time and resources; however, when done properly, they can help businesses achieve their goals more quickly.

Thus, it's always important to ask yourself a few key questions before jumping into either one.

Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager
ABout the AUTHOR
Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager

Suman Samal is a Asst. Marketing Manager at Scalenut. She is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in content marketing and SEO. She truly believes that with the right set of tools every organization can improve the ROI of their content marketing campaigns. She spends her time managing content operations at Scalenut and ensuring that everything we publish is of the highest quality.

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