SEO vs PPC: What's the difference?

What's the difference?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are two of the most popular and effective digital marketing strategies used to help businesses grow.

While each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, understanding the differences between the two can help businesses determine which one is best for their needs. Both can have a major impact on businesses, so it’s essential to understand what sets them apart in order to get the most out of your online presence.

This article will define what PPC and SEO are, explain how each can be utilised to help businesses, discuss the differences between PPC & SEO, and explore how SEO & PPC can work in tandem to deliver excellent results.

What is PPC?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also known as cost-per-click (CPC), is an online advertising model which allows you to bid on certain keywords related to your business and pay each time someone clicks on your ad.

This type of advertising typically shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs) or other websites. It can be highly targeted, allowing you to target specific locations, demographics, or interests.

It works by placing ads on search engines or other websites where visitors may be looking for information related to a particular product or service. When a user clicks on an ad, they are taken directly to the advertiser’s website or landing page. The advertiser pays only when someone clicks on their advertisement, hence the name “pay per click”. The amount charged varies depending upon factors such as keyword competition, relevancy of ad copy, and target audience.

The primary benefit of using PPC advertising is that it offers an immediate return on investment (ROI). It provides instantaneous visibility for your business, as ads can be published quickly and start to generate leads almost immediately depending on how competitive the keyword is. It can also be easily tweaked or optimised if needed. Budget adjustments, keyword additions, or deletions can be made quickly and easily.

Because businesses only have to pay when someone clicks through to their site from an ad, there is no risk involved in running a campaign – if no one clicks through to the site then there's no money lost. Additionally, because advertisers can target specific audiences with customised messaging, they are more likely to reach people interested in what they offer – making it easier to convert leads into customers.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to strategies used by businesses in order to improve their ranking in search engines like Google and Bing. The goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic from search engines through tactics such as link building, content creation, and keyword research.

Unlike PPC campaigns which are paid for each time someone clicks on an ad, SEO works more slowly but generates more sustainable long-term results over time.

SEO helps improve visibility in organic search results by optimising content so it appears higher up on results pages when people search for relevant keywords or phrases. This involves optimising webpages; creating quality content using those keywords; building backlinks from high-authority websites; improving page speed; ensuring mobile compatibility; optimising meta tags and titles; as well as many other tactics that help increase rankings across different search engines.

Similar to PPC campaigns, SEO also has its own set of benefits which make it an attractive option for businesses looking for website visibility but without having a budget to spend on paid advertisements each month. One of the main benefits is that it offers greater visibility than traditional forms of advertising due to its ability to reach more people while increasing brand awareness at the same time.

Organic traffic from search engines tends to convert better than paid traffic from ads due to the trustworthiness associated with organic results versus sponsored ones. This means that any leads generated from organic searches will likely lead to sales further down the line with minimal cost involved compared with PPC campaigns requiring continual budgeting for them to stay active after being launched.

The primary benefit of SEO lies in the cumulative effect of its ability to generate increasing amounts of traffic over time – making it one of the most cost-effective long-term digital marketing strategies available today.

Furthermore, since much of SEO relies on creating quality content that users find useful or interesting enough to share with others, it can lead to increased brand awareness over time. This can result in more conversions down the line as well as improved customer loyalty due to the trustworthiness associated with being seen as an authoritative source within a particular industry or niche.

What is PPC?

When comparing the two types of campaigns side by side there are several key differences between PPC and SEO that should be taken into consideration when deciding which one best fits your needs:


Generally speaking, PPC campaigns tend to cost more than organic ones due to their highly targeted nature versus a broader targeted approach with SEO. However, depending on how competitive a certain keyword might be, prices can vary greatly between both options so doing some research beforehand could save you money in either case.

Targeting Capabilities

With PPC, advertisers can target users based on geographical location or interests, while SEO tends to focus more broadly across entire regions. This means that if local targeting is needed then opting for a PPC campaign may well be more beneficial, though local SEO strategies can also be extremely effective.

Timeframe for Results

As mentioned previously, PPC campaigns tend to provide quick visibility right away while SEO takes much longer to build up traction over time, building trust and authority within search engines. However, both approaches are still able to provide high-quality leads when done correctly.

How SEO & PPC Can Work Together

The strengths inherent in both strategies mean that PPC and SEO can complement each other rather well when used together to create a more effective digital marketing strategy.

For example, businesses could use PPC data to inform their organic keyword optimisation efforts by targeting keywords that are already performing well for them via paid ads.

Likewise, businesses could use their organic rankings as an indication of how well certain keywords are resonating with users and then adjust their PPC ad copy accordingly. They could even target similar phrases that may have higher potential for returns, given what’s already known about user behavior based on previous campaigns ran using paid search engine advertising techniques.

Another approach would be to analyse data from successful PPC campaigns, such as geographic locations, thereby informing strategic decisions regarding organic efforts such as targeting niche markets or locations, instead of focusing broadly across regions.

Additionally, data collected from successful organic efforts, like topics covered within content created or user engagement levels, could inform decisions regarding bidding amounts within a particular market segment within a given region; this way optimizing budgets allocated towards those types of initiatives.

Get in Touch for PPC & SEO Services

While both Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) have their own advantages and disadvantages depending upon what type of strategy you’re trying to achieve, understanding how they differ from each other will allow you to make informed decisions regarding investments made towards either option and help you achieve your goals.

Combining these two strategies together could potentially bring even greater success when executed properly, enabling your business to reap even greater rewards through a more effective digital marketing strategy.

Here at Sayu, we offer expert PPC management and SEO services. Get in touch to discuss your needs and let us help you to take your online presence to the next level.

Check out our PPC case studies and SEO case studies to discover the stellar work we’ve done for businesses in the past.

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