What’s the Difference Between Pay Per Click and SEO and Which Should I Use?

Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Top Of Search Engine Listings

Both Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help your business’s webpage to show up at or near the top of search engine listings. The main difference is PPC is a form of paid advertising whereas SEO is a long term strategy that helps your website to gain a better ranking organically.

PPC usually involves a bigger financial investment while SEO tends to involve a greater time commitment. Both can be extremely effective in promoting your website.

Whether you should use PPC or SEO or both depends on a number of factors.

What are your competitors doing?

If your competitors are already using PPC or are likely to be doing so in the future, it is good reason to start your own PPC marketing as early as possible. If your competitors are not yet in the market, your choice of keywords is likely to be less expensive. If your competitors are already in the market, your keywords of choice will likely be more expensive – but that cost is going to get higher the longer you wait.

In the 2013 report by The State of Paid Search, it was reported that of the businesses surveyed, 72% planned to increase their PPC budget in 2014.

How much money can you afford to spend?

As mentioned earlier, PPC tends to involve a greater financial investment. And while you can set daily spending limits on PPC, you’ll likely want to spend at least $5 (if not more) per day.

How much time do you have to spend?

PPC gives you faster results than SEO in just about every way possible. PPC (obviously) helps you to get top spot in search engine listings quickly, but it can also provide you with metrics more quickly on vital statistics such as conversion (how many people actually buy from you once they click your ad), which in turn helps you to quickly determine your return on investment.

Also consider that how quickly you want results might change depending on your particular circumstances. SEO is great when you are looking to build a regular client base. But say you are having a sale and want to get the word out quickly? Then PPC would be the way to go.

Average cost-per-click (CPC) in your industry

Another factor that you should look at when determining whether to use PPC or SEO is what the cost-per-click (CPC) average is in your industry. If you are in a highly competitive industry (auto insurance, for example) than the cost of you PPC campaign could be quite high and make it difficult to turn a profit. In a case like this, you may be better off sticking with SEO.

Search engine results pages (SERPs)

Once you’ve examined what your average CPC is likely to be, then you should also look at how competitive the search engine results pages (SERPs) are in your industry. Established companies with high rankings can be difficult – nearly impossible in some cases – to displace. If these are the types of websites that you are competing with, it may make more sense for you to invest in PPC advertising.

Of course, there is no reason why you can’t do both PPC and SEO marketing. In fact many businesses do use both. It may be a matter of experimenting with both types of marketing to determine either a preference or a formula that works best for your business. 

Learning Center