Organic SEO vs. PPC

By Karina Neves - September 30, 2013

As a business owner looking to invest in search engine marketing, you may be debating on which method is a better allocation of your funds: organic search engine optimization or pay per click advertising. Depending on your budget and goals, there are pros and cons to both. But first, let’s review how they differ.

Organic SEO vs. PPC

Organic SEO in its simplest terms is optimizing a website in order to make it more relevant to search terms, thus boosting it’s rank on a search page.

PPC is a form of marketing that involves bidding on targeted keywords in order to have an ad show up at the top of the search page which is paid for based on how many times it’s clicked.

Each method has its benefits, depending on your search engine marketing needs.


Winner: PPC

Why: Unlike SEO, PPC results start the moment you create your campaign. Whereas SEO requires a long process and ongoing effort to produce a long-lasting boost in ranking, PPC will automatically place your website on the first page for as long as the campaign lasts.

Long-term Return on Investment (ROI)

Winner: SEO

Why: SEO results may take longer to acheive, however, results will last longer. Since SEO increases your site’s value, it has an ongoing impact on your ranking, and therefore is likely to bring in more traffic and potential leads over time.

Short-term Return on Investment (ROI)

Winner: PPC

Why: Since PPC provides quicker results, it has a greater short-term ROI than SEO. In other words, you will begin to see traffic to your site immediately when you start the campaign.


Winner: SEO

Why: 85% of clicks resulting from a search are on the organic links rather than sponsored links, so SEO is likely to bring more traffic than PPC.


Winner: Both

Why: Studies show that there is a greater purchase intent from those who click on sponsored links versus organic links on the search page, so PPC is more likely to attract serious buyers. On the other hand, this is under the assumption that your site is already user-friendly. Otherwise, investing in improving your website so that it is user-friendly and has compelling content may generate more conversions than PPC alone.


Winner: Draw

Why: This one is tricky, since a PPC campaign depends greatly on the level of competition of the keyword, the amount of funds allocated to the campaign and the campaign’s upkeep. The advantage of a PPC campaign is that there is a greater level of control over how much you choose to spend.

Organic SEO is considered to be “free marketing” in the sense that you do not pay Google directly to rank your website. However, since it is a highly specialized field, most business owners to not have the time, skills or resources to build a site on their own that will rank above their competitors. Often, it helps to hire an SEO consultant or an SEO marketing firm to help.

Generally speaking, professionally done SEO work will have a greater upfront cost than PPC, but it will continue to provide traffic over time, whereas PPC traffic ends once the campaign does and brings no additional value to the website.

So which is better: SEO or PPC?

One info graphic I recently came across likens the search engine marketing to weight loss, where SEO is a long-term diet plan or lifestyle change (long-term time investment for long-term results) and PPC is plastic surgery (a quick-fix for quick results that may not last as long).

What is really comes down to is your business goals. If your promotion goals are time-sensitive or you’re on a tight budget, PPC is most likely the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a long-term investment into your website so that it will become valuable online real estate and continue to bring you business, SEO is the better option.

If your budget allows for it, the best way to go in order to see benefits from both is a combination of the two. That way, you’ll receive the immediate traffic from PPC while you wait to build your website’s online reputation with SEO.




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