What Is the Difference Between SEO and PPC?

difference between seo and ppc

Last year, over $139 billion was spent on digital marketing, up 12% from the previous year.

The typical small business advertising fund is a drop in the bucket comparatively. How can a small business stay lean, but also be competitive when competing with billions of advertising dollars?

Fortunately, improving search engine results to promote your business can be done in a cost-effective way when done right.

Gaining an understanding of the difference between SEO and PPC and how to leverage them is the perfect way to do more with less. Here is a breakdown of how you can use these techniques for your business.

What Is the Difference Between SEO and PPC?

Both SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) are methods used to ensure search engine users see your site. While SEO generates “organic” results, you’ll pay to have your site appear in results with PPC.

Both are powerful marketing tools. However, each can be used more effectively in certain scenarios. Finding out a little more about how each works can help you figure out which is right for your business.

What Is SEO?

When a person uses a search engine to find answers, the most relevant sites will appear first in the organic results. SEO helps you show up earlier than your competitors.

This isn’t accomplished simply by throwing money at your site. Instead, your site is optimized with keywords and high-quality content so it appears in search results organically. 

Another important piece of SEO is backlinks. When other sites link to your page, your content gains authority and will help send search engines your way.

It is the job of search engines to help users find the information they are looking for. If your site is SEO optimized and has the answers users are looking for, you can expect higher traffic.

SEO Pros

With SEO, you’ll have staying power. While it can take time to rise in the organic ranks, you’ll enjoy sustained traffic once you arrive. Once your page is higher ranked, it is also easier to continue building upon your success.

SEO is also more cost-effective than PPC. Both require funds to develop, but costs for SEO are reduced once your site has developed some stamina.

If you are looking to build a site that is seen as an authority on a subject, SEO is the way to go. An organic result is seen to users as more trustworthy than an advertisement.

SEO Cons

SEO may be more economical, but it does require a larger investment of time. This technique takes diligence in building blog posts and backlinks, but it also takes time to see results.

SEO is a commitment.  You will see results if you keep building, but you’ll never quite have a “finished project.” Original content will need to be continuously added to keep your high rank.

What Is PPC?

Alternately, PPC charges you a small fee each time your ad is clicked. Using PPC, your ad can jump ahead of organic results to be seen in some of the top search engine results.

PPC Pros

Probably the biggest advantage with PPC is seeing near-instant results. There is no need to painstakingly build content and backlinks to create results over months.

Whereas SEO is all or nothing, PPC allows you to target specific demographics. It is also more scalable so you can decide how often ads are displayed based on your budget.

PPC is more agile. If one technique isn’t working, you can quickly alter your approach. Without putting in months of labor, you can determine whether or not your ad is working as intended.

PPC Cons

The biggest disadvantage in PPC is when you stop the ads, the views stop. There is no lasting power like that of SEO rankings unless you continue to pay for ads.

While PPC is already the more costly approach, you may need to pay more to compete with others in the same industry. Bidding wars do occasionally occur when vying for the same spot in keyword rankings.

Which Is Better?

With a better understanding of the difference between SEO and PPC, it’s clear neither is necessarily better than the other. Your business goals dictate which is better for your situation.

If you are starting a brand new type of business or promoting a one-time sale, you’ll need fast, unique results. PPC is the way to go.

If your goal is to run an authority site, however, it is worth your time to build the type of site that dominates organic results.

When to Use Both

In most scenarios, a hybrid approach is actually best. The obvious benefit is more overall exposure on search engine results pages (SERPs). But this approach can also help direct your overall strategy.

Data obtained from each approach can help inform the other approach. For instance, determining which PPC ads get results can help you better tailor your SEO. In turn, obtaining site search data from organic results can help guide ads.

Ready to Use SEO and PPC for Your Business?

Your business has a better chance of success using these promotion techniques. Learning the difference between SEO and PPC is a great start. But there is a lot to research and explore before you can successfully leverage them for your business.

There are plenty of resources available to get you started. As a business owner, you have countless demands on your time. Contact us today and let us help you get a head start!

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