SEO vs PPC: When to Optimize and When to Pay for Traffic

SEO vs PPC: When to Optimize and When to Pay for Traffic


In case you’ve just started working in the world of online marketing, you must already be aware of SEO and PPC. SEO has been around long before PPC was invented, and both are indispensable tools in your arsenal. This fact has made SEO and PPC collide at regular intervals to figure out which one is better to use in a particular situation. Having a clear grasp of the differences between SEO and PPC would allow you to know when to optimize for traffic and when it’s time to pay for it.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is increasing the visibility of a website or webpage to users of a web search engine. The goal is to ensure that your website appears near the top of the results returned by the search engine, putting it in front of more potential customers.

The most common way this is achieved is through keyword optimization. This refers to the practice of making sure your website includes words or phrases that you think your potential customers would likely search for. A company selling camping gear and supplies, for example, would want its site to include words like “tent” and “hiking.”

A good SEO campaign also involves optimizing your site’s HTML code, content, and links. By doing this, you can increase your site’s ranking in search engines and increase traffic to your site as a result. 

Pros of SEO

1. SEO is cheaper in the long run

One of the biggest advantages of SEO is that it’s cheaper in the long run than other types of marketing. SEO is a one-time investment—after you’ve established your reputation, you can stop spending money on SEO and let your company’s reputation do the work for you. Of course, this isn’t to say you should abandon SEO entirely once you’re established—more on that later.

2. You can target different funnel stages with SEO

With SEO, you can focus on top-of-funnel traffic to drive awareness or target the middle of the funnel to push users towards a sale or conversion. You can even use SEO to reach existing customers and encourage repeat purchases. This makes SEO a powerful tool for any business. You can target every stage of the buyer funnel with different types of content. That means that as you develop your strategy, you can plan to attract people who are still learning about the problem they have, then move them to engage with content that helps them understand their options, and finally make a decision. 

3. Search traffic is more stable

Search engine optimization results in traffic that is more stable; search engine ranking algorithms are designed to keep a website at the top of search results for as long as possible, so if you have good content and keyword-rich marketing strategies, your site will continue to rank well. SEO is more stable. If you stop paying for ads, you lose the traffic immediately. Even if you’re paying a lot for SEO, if you stop paying, it may take a while before your site starts getting less traffic than it did before SEO.

4. Organic listings build brand authority

When search engine results are based on organic listings, a website with high-quality content and keyword optimization will rank higher than websites that pay for ads. Websites with brand authority tend to be more trusted by visitors and convert better because potential customers are less likely to click on paid ad links. This helps your website maintain visibility in search results over time, leading to increased traffic or even new customers.

Cons of SEO

1. Search engine algorithms change

Search engines are constantly changing, and as a result, it can be not easy to keep up with the best practices. Search engines want to offer the best possible experience for users, so they are always tweaking their algorithms to do better. But this often means that things that worked well in the past stop working or even start hurting your SEO. This makes SEO a tricky game of trying to stay on top of what’s working right now, which can be extremely time-consuming and difficult if you’re not immersed in it full-time.

2. You’ll need to optimize your website regularly

SEO is not a one-and-done process—as Google continues to update its algorithms, you will need to keep up with it. That means your SEO team will be working on your website regularly, which can get expensive. The best SEO means staying on top of all the latest updates and trends in search engines, so if you run a website that’s been optimized in the past but hasn’t been updated yet, your rankings will suffer.

3. SEO takes time to show results

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be a great way to increase your traffic and visibility online, but it will take time. While you may see results in just a few weeks or months, it’s not uncommon for it to take up to a year before you see significant improvement. As long as you stay up-to-date with search engine updates, this optimization process will pay off. But if you don’t keep on top of it, results can be slow or nonexistent.

4. It requires high-level skills and expertise

SEO is a practice that requires extensive knowledge and skills. It’s not as simple as throwing keywords in your website copy and hoping for the best; it’s about creating a holistic strategy that considers everything from your site design to the way you create content, how you link between pages, how users interact with your site, and so much more. Because of its complexity, SEO is one of those things that you can’t do alone. It would help if you had a team of professionals who understand the ins and outs of SEO and who have proven experience in implementing an effective strategy across all aspects of a website.

What is PPC?

PPC stands for pay-per-click, and it’s a type of online advertising. When a company uses PPC, they pay a certain amount each time their ads are clicked. Using PPC means you can drive traffic to your website with focused ads that target consumers who are likely to be interested in your product.

The PPC model is often used in search engine advertising—you can bid on keywords that you think are relevant to your business and have your ad appear in the search results when someone enters those terms as their search query. You can also use PPC advertising through social media channels, display networks, or retargeting campaigns.

PPC is a popular model because it puts some control in the hands of the advertiser. For example, with Google Ads, you can set a daily budget and bid per click to help control costs. The campaign can also be optimized quickly—if the ads aren’t getting clicks, they can be edited or changed right away.

Pros of PPC

1. PPC offers quick results

Pay-per-click advertising offers quick results. PPC is a great way to get your business off the ground quickly. You can start getting traffic to your website within a day of opening your account, and you can make adjustments and start to see results (hopefully positive ones) almost immediately!

2. PPC ads appear above organic rankings

If you’re a business looking to increase traffic to your site, PPC ads appear above organic listings on the results page, which means that your ads are more likely to be seen by potential customers.

3. PPC allows you to pinpoint your target audience

PPC is one of the most effective methods of reaching your target audience. Since you can pay to reach only those people with the exact profile that you want to be associated with your company, it’s easy for you to grow your business quickly.

Cons of PPC

1. PPC ads are expensive

PPC advertising is expensive. If you want to pay for people to find your site, you’re going to be paying a pretty penny and that’s to get them there. Once you get them there, you’ll have to convince them to buy something, which can incur additional costs depending on how much time and effort you spend.

2. Lower profit margins

PPC is a great tool for getting immediate traffic to your site and converting it into sales. The problem with PPC is that, in the long run, it can have lower profit margins than SEO. When you’re paying for each click, every purchase must be made at a higher profit margin to make up for the cost of the traffic. It’s easier to ramp up the cost of a click than it is to increase your profit margin.

3. PPC ads become stale after a while

PPC ads can lose their effectiveness after a week or two, which means you may have to spend time every week updating your ads. This can become especially tiresome if you use multiple services for PPC advertising, as each service requires its own set of ads.

SEO vs. PPC: Which is better?

SEO and PPC are the two major ways businesses drive traffic to their sites. Knowing when to use one and use another is an essential skill for digital marketers.

  • Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of growing your organic search volume over time. Organic search volume is the amount of traffic you get from search engines—Google, in particular—without paying for it. Most people think of organic growth as a slow and gradual process, but it doesn’t have to be that way—more on that later!
  • Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, allows you to buy traffic from Google. These ads always appear at the top of the page, above all other search results. When a user clicks on your ad and visits your site, you pay Google a fee (which can be as little as $0.01). If a user doesn’t click on your ad but sees it, you don’t pay anything.

PPC is great because it delivers immediate results. You’ll start getting traffic right away, and it’s much easier to set up than SEO. You don’t have to worry about doing keyword research or waiting for search engines to index your content—create an ad and watch the traffic roll in!


We hope that you now understand the many differences between PPC and SEO and how you should use them in your online marketing campaigns. Of course, it’s not always cut and dry as to what is best for your business. You need first to know the goals of your business and where it is headed. 

The amount to spend on each will depend on what you’re trying to achieve with each campaign and whether or not you have a lot of money to be spending. There is no definite answer to which one is the better choice for online marketing, but when it comes down to SEO vs. PPC, SEO is more affordable than PPC.

Author Bio: Efa Yasin

Efa Yasin, exhibits her witty personality, through her intriguing writings. Her works have been published on various websites, like NOGOZO and THETOPTOURS. With her forte being in English, she has conducted research and concocted articles on various niches like marketing, travel and tourism, information technology, and many more. Currently, she is writing for a digital marketing and SEO services blog: