SEO vs. PPC: Which Is the Best for Your Business’s Growth?

September 28, 2015

SEO vs. PPC: Which Is the Best for Your Business's Growth?

You’re looking to boost traffic to your website. But you’re not quite sure whether to use SEO or PPC.

Search engine optimization and pay per click advertising both drive search traffic. These highly effective search engine marketing tools are essential to the success of your digital marketing campaign. However, each will affect your campaign differently.

Let’s examine what these tools are and how they’re used, so you can choose the best one for your business.

What Are SEO and PPC?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of boosting your website’s visibility in the unpaid results of search engines (like Google). These results are often referred to as organic or natural results.

SEO utilizes strategic techniques and tactics for ranking your website in search engines. That way, your website turns up higher in users’ search results, improving your chances of getting more visitors to naturally explore your website.

Pay per click (PPC) is a method of advertising where advertisers pay search engines and social media platforms whenever their ad is clicked. You’re driving traffic to your site by buying online visibility. For many website owners, PPC is a better option than attempting to earn visits from organic search, especially since it gives immediate results.


What Are the Benefits of SEO and PPC?

SEO and PPC both offer benefits for your marketing campaign, but each has its unique strengths. Let’s take a closer look.


  • Affects organic, shopping, and media results.
  • Shows high effectiveness consistently over time.
  • Increases the value of websites.
  • Provides the potential for residual benefits even after budget dwindles.


  • Delivers immediate results.
  • Helps you dominate search results in your keyword category.
  • Remains effective even if your site isn’t search engine optimized.
  • Delivers more conversions with highly optimized keywords.

When Should You Use SEO and PPC, and Why?

SEO and PPC are two different approaches, each with different strengths and limitations. For an optimal return on investment, it’s important to know when to use each one.


When to Use SEO: Research suggests that on average, 64% of all website traffic comes from organic search results, making SEO an important tool for promoting your online business. Try SEO if you’re looking for:

  • Consistency. It takes time for results, but once you get to the top, you can enjoy sustained traffic.
  • Website Value. A website is basically real estate in the virtual world, so increase its value with SEO. (Added bonus: you can later sell your website at a premium rate.)
  • Online Authority. Smart SEO planning can increase your web authority, making you a go-to resource in your niche.
  • Return on Investment. With SEO, your investment can prove fruitful even after your funding runs out.

When to Use PPC: This method can promote your brand and convert more traffic. And there are many places to buy PPC advertising. Outlets like Google and Facebook have the largest reach, while smaller providers offer cheaper access to more niche targeting. Consider using PPC when you want:

  • Immediate Results. PPC delivers results fast, which makes it a great tool for launching and promoting new products or services.
  • Highly Targeted Traffic. PPC can narrow down your prospects according to a specific demographic, or even target them through remarketing.
  • More Conversions. Optimized ads increase the likelihood of converting visitors.
  • More Traffic, Without SEO. If it’s not feasible to optimize your website with high-quality content for better search rankings, you can still generate traffic using PPC campaigns.

ROI for SEO vs PPC: Case Studies

According to a case study by Codeless Interactive, a client in the service industry was able to reap more than 80% of cost savings with the ROI from SEO. After one year of using their inbound SEO services, the company saw a significant increase in traffic.

Alternatively, in a case study by Red Olive, both PPC and SEO were able to result in nearly the same amount of traffic for an eCommerce website. An even more interesting point is that there was a higher percentage of orders coming from the PPC-driven traffic.

So which choice would give you better ROI? The ultimate answer: it depends. If you’re looking primarily for traffic, SEO has been known to give you a higher ROI in the long run. However, for sales and orders, PPC tends to perform better. In most cases, marketers are trying to improve both of these metrics, so a balance of both SEO and PPC strategy delivers the strongest returns.

Using SEO and PPC Together

When it comes to online advertising campaigns, companies are still investing heavily to stay on top of the search results. According to The Search Agency, the total spending on paid search last year increased by 35% in comparison to the previous year.

A recent report presented at SMX East 2014 showed how users’ search behavior and organic click-through rates (CTR) were influenced by ads. Websites that rank between 6 and 10 have a 2.99% increase in organic CTR when ads were displayed. This report also revealed that ads placed on the right side seemed to have the most positive impact, with a whopping 27.83% increase in CTR.

Let’s take a look at how both sides of the SEO vs PPC dilemma actually work together.

  • Clicks: According to a 2012 Google report, PPC-driven traffic and organic ranking were closely related. PPC was found to be highly effective in cases where there was a good organic search ranking. This study showed that 82% of ad clicks proved beneficial if the associated organic result had a ranking between 2 and 4.
  • Conversions: SEO and PPC can work together to harbor impressive results on your conversion rate. While PPC ads drive a third of all search traffic, they result in nearly half of all search revenues. SEO, meanwhile, drives more traffic at a lower cost. Together, they introduce customers to your sales funnel, and convert them later on.

Bottom Line: Try Using Both

While SEO and PPC have unique benefits for your campaign, it’s often a good idea to implement both methods wisely in a well-planned marketing strategy.

Try running a PPC campaign first to generate faster results. Test keywords to see which result in the most conversions. Then, implement those keywords in your SEO campaign.

SEO can be your go-to Internet marketing option if you have a limited advertising budget. On the other hand, PPC wins if you have a high-converting product or time-sensitive offer.

Avoid relying on just one of these channels. Instead, use each of them based on what your website needs for more online visibility.


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