SEO vs PPC: Which is better?

Jul 20, 2019

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
PPC (Paid Per Click)

Among the many tools and techniques digital marketers and advertisers have on their tool belts, search engine optimisation and pay-per-click advertising are two that get a lot of use. Paid search and organic search are in a group of select few digital marketing techniques that amount for a quarter of the average marketing budget’s expenses, surveys show.

As far as digital marketing techniques and tools go, SEO and PPC are among the most popular. And it’s like that because the people who use them agree that they deliver results.

Three-quarters of marketers would say that SEO increases the number of leads. Almost four out of five would say it increased their brand awareness. Roughly a half would report a decrease in the cost of customer acquisition thanks to SEO. At the same time, marketers are increasing their spending on text ads and social ads, which is something they wouldn’t do if they weren’t seeing results.

But if both PPC and SEO are so good at yielding results, how would someone choose which one is best for their business? If there’s a limited budget, for example, or limited time to achieve results, which would be the better option for your business? Let’s find out.

SEO: The Better Long Term Option that Requires Patience

When we speak about search engine optimization, we are referring to a variety of practices, techniques, and strategies that should get our website, product page, or landing page on the first page of search results for certain queries. Usually, the goal is to get as close as possible to the first result on a Google search results page.

The practices and strategies SEO utilised are diverse. They include, for example, ensuring that a website is crawlable and search-engine friendly, as well as the creation of website content and even blog posts. If you’d ask an SEO professional about the benefits of SEO, they would probably mention:

  • It doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan to do most of the work on your own.
  • It provides long-term benefits that don’t degrade quickly.
  • It’s great for building brand awareness, and it has a good ROI.

On the other hand, SEO is far from being perfect. Even some of the benefits of SEO can become a drawback:

  • If you decide to do SEO on your own, it will be a significant time-sink.
  • A/B testing is hard to perform because…
  • Any SEO technique you do requires a lot of time to produce results.

So the final verdict on SEO would be that it’s best for businesses looking for long-term gains and a better return of investment. If this sounds like you, however, remember that the less money you invest in SEO, the more of your time you’ll have to devote to it. Also, playing a slow-paced long game has disadvantages.


Utilising SEO and PPC at the same time provides the best results.  Especially for new businesses.

PPC:Get Quick Results If You’re Ready to Pay for Them

As opposed to SEO, a type of marketing we consider “organic,” PPC is a paid type of marketing. It doesn’t happen because of optimisation or simply having a website. You have to find advertising networks, such as Google Ads or Bing Ads, and use them to bid on keywords and have your ads appear in search engine ads or website placements.

PPC can become very complex very quickly. You have to plan budgets, it wouldn’t hurt if you’d calculate important KPIs regularly, and stay on top of your ad performance. Still, to someone who has experience with PPC, this type of advertising would be great because:

  • It delivers results very quickly.
  • You can easily do A/B tests with your ads.
  • The ads appear in front of people with some level of buyer intent.

Those are the good things about PPC. And there’s plenty that’s not that good about it, such as:

  • As soon as the money runs out, so do the gains – a complete lack of long-term benefits.
  • ROI might be lower than with SEO, not too great for awareness either.
  • A steep learning curve.

So what’s the bottom line? PPC is great if you want to see results quickly and have a lot of control over your marketing setting and the outcomes. Results might not be as great as they get with SEO, but you can improve them with more precision and certainty that your effort will pay off.

How to Choose the Better Approach for Your Business

There are a couple of ways you can go about choosing which type of marketing would work better for your business. All things being equal, the best way would be to simply figure out which one better aligns with your business goals. So if you want to work on branding and build awareness, SEO would be a better fit. If you want to have a quick boost in sales or starting off, PPC is the way to go.

The cost can affect your decision. Businesses with a tight advertising budget have to rely on the types of digital marketing that are DIY-friendly, and SEO is one of them. New businesses usually have to put a lot of effort into keeping the overhead down. Choosing SEO with a low PPC budget makes perfect sense in that situation.  For better optimisation and better return of investment, it’s better to hire an expert in SEO and Search Engine Marketing (PPC).  

If you really want to do your business a favour, however, you’ll choose after trying both. And you should be prepared for the fact that there won’t be a choice to make – you’ll find that using both provides great results.

SEO and PPC are different enough to ensure they don’t overlap. You’ll never waste money by doing both at the same time. The goals you can achieve with the techniques are different, as is the time frame in which they appear, and the type of effort you have to invest if you want to get those results.

So instead of thinking which one is better, how about you do this: invest some money in SEO. Never give up as SEO takes a long time before you see results. While you’re doing that, try some different PPC techniques and campaign settings. You can easily stop them if you think you’re spending too much money on them. Then, when you think it justifies the investment, use the PPC strategy that works best to give your business a boost, while SEO is doing its thing in the background. With effort, there’s no reason why you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.