When it comes to digital marketing strategies, you may get stuck in between choosing Pay per Click (PPC) or SEO (Search engine optimization). These two terms are the most discussed and debated terms in the marketing world. Yet, it is usually confusing to decide which one works well in terms of providing benefits to a business. Pay per click and SEO are useful strategies targeted to get a website ranked (almost) on the top in the search engine results. The dilemma is because both strategies are very similar yet very different.

 Shortly, they both are essential strategies for facilitating the online presence and driving better reach, but they are not the same.

In this article, we will thoroughly discuss what they are and how they are different.

What is SEO?

SEO( Search engine optimization) is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on optimizing the rank of a website in a search engine. In other words, it is a process of getting traffic from free and organic listings. Therefore, it is generally referred to as organic or natural lead generation.

The search engine shows results for specific keywords that consist of websites, web pages, videos, or local listings. The rank of such content depends on its relevance to the search tags in the view of the search engine. On that account,  SEO helps in optimizing the web pages or websites to enhance their rank in search engines. Organic SEO practices ensure that the search engine spiders can interpret the content of the web pages and rank it higher than the competitors, which is an ideal case for a website.

The SEO tactics are divided into two categories:

  1. On-page SEO: 

On-page SEO or on-site SEO is a process of optimizing the webpage content for the search engines and users. It includes optimizing content, title tags, internal links, and URL, etc.  

  • Off-page SEO:

Off-page SEO, also known as Off-site SEO, is a process different from On-page SEO, in which a website is indirectly optimized through the actions taken outside the website. 

How does it work?

The search engines are sceptical when it comes to showing the results to the users. It aims to provide the most relevant and most accurate information. In that regard, it checks the content and credibility of a website before showing it in the results.

SEO strategies keep changing with industry trends and search engine algorithms. For example, the search engine has a set of rules that web pages and websites have to qualify in order to rank(near) the top of the search engine results. The search engines scan or crawl different websites to check what the content is about. The search engine then hooks the websites with the same or relevant keywords searched in the search engine. For example, if a user searches for the “best commercial ovens,” the search engine will show the relevant results. They may include commercial oven websites or web pages that are optimized for the keywords “best commercial ovens.” 

Therefore, businesses need to optimize websites to appear in the top ranks to reach out to potential audiences. The SEO strategies that aim for ranking websites high in search engines help to achieve that. In essence, the SEO ensures providing a website that clearly explains what the website is about to users and the search engine crawlers that scan the website. Cultivating inbound links from other sites can boost the link authority, which improves the ranking. Video content, blogs, and social media marketing can help acquire quality links. 

Each page of the website needs to be optimized for keywords and phrases from which you want it to appear in search engine results. The key elements that need to be optimized are: 

  1. Design and accessibility:

The design is one of the contributing factors when it comes to ranking a website high in SERPs(Search engine result pages). The web pages of a website should have vitalizing design and must be easily accessible to the user and search engine crawlers. Moreover, the website must have fast loading times, as speed is a key parameter for most search engines. 

  • Content: 

In SEO, you might have heard the clichéd phrase: Content is king. The quality of the content is a key determiner that attests to the credibility of a website. The content must be original, relevant, and void of grammatical and syntax errors. 

Moreover, the content must be optimized for keywords, and the meta elements must be rich in keywords. 

  • Links to the website: 

References always increase the worth of a website. Links to websites from authoritative sites increase the website’s credibility in the eyes of the search engine. 

Advantages of SEO:

1.   Targets Quality traffic:

SEO is an inbound marketing strategy, which means that it helps potential customers find the website themselves. The strategies of SEO are focused on increasing awareness, building relationships, and generating leads. By finding quality traffic, it means that the strategies of SEO do not bombard the customers with website endorsements. In fact, it helps a website appear in front of the audience when they explicitly search for relevant information. In other words, we can say that the tactic of SEO helps potential customers reach out to the website themselves. Therefore, an inbound marketing strategy is a customer-centric approach, thus, more useful and lucrative. According to a recent report, around 59% of marketers believe that the inbound marketing strategy offers the highest quality leads.

2.   It leads to positive ROI:

ROI is the return on investment derived from the SEO efforts. Websites generate revenue by clicks on the websites. Given that more than 75% of people never move ahead of the first page of search results, a high-ranked webpage has a high probability of being clicked. Because more than 90% of all traffic is generated by clicks on the websites on the first page.

That said, SEO tactics can help the website make it to the first list. A website will have a positive ROI if the revenue generated by the SEO tactics is higher than the costs of the SEO campaign. If used properly, the SEO campaigns always lead to a positive return on investment. However, it is key to remember that the SEO tactics take time to show positive results and that it is a long-term initiative.

3.   It improves trust and credibility:

Getting ranked in the top results of a search is like getting a jewel in the crown for the websites because that drives more traffic as well as trust and credibility in the view of the potential audience. The search engines rank websites according to multiple components such as website content, design, and accessibility, links, and many more. But they are not the things that the common people think or care about, they just see a website ranked high on the first page of the search results, and they believe it is a credible and trustworthy website. Therefore, SEO can help the websites build or improve their credibility among the potential audience.   

4.   It helps you lead the competition:

Using SEO tactics properly can help a business grow and move ahead of its competitors. Why? Because being ranked high in the search engine, it can garner more clicks from potential customers. Driving more organic traffic to the website can increase the conversion rate, which boosts the business’s revenue. According to marketers, SEO can drive 1000% more traffic than organic social media. It means that using SEO for a website makes a huge difference.

5.   It is cost-effective in the long run:

Although SEO is not an easy or free-of-cost task, it is cost-effective in the long run. Once you put an optimized webpage on the website, the search engine is responsible for fetching and displaying it to the potential audience. You may have to invest in the SEO team or a writer to write good content, which is a very basic investment. Once you do that, you do not have to keep on investing to drive more traffic to the website. Also an optimized website that can drive abundant traffic from organic search does not need to invest in the ads.

What is PPC?

PPC is the acronym for Pay per click. It is an internet marketing strategy whereby the advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. It is the opposite of SEO in that you buy the visits In PPC while through SEO, you earn them organically.

There are many types of pay-per-click, but paid search advertising is one of the popular forms of PPC. It allows the advertisers to bid for ad placement in the search engine when the audience searches a keyword related to it. In simple words, these are the ads that appear when people search for a keyword or phrase relevant to it. For example, when a person searches for “commercial oven near me,” this phrase will trigger pay-per-click ads, which will appear on the top in the search results. Other types of Pay per click advertising include display advertising, social media advertising, and retargeting PPC advertising.

How does it work? 

The foundation of the pay-per-click model is based on keywords. The paid search engine ads only appear when a person searches for a keyword or a keyword-driven phrase that relates to the ad. Therefore, the marketers focus on finding, analyzing, and using the most relevant keywords that outspeak their products or services. Using the most accurate keywords can strategically increase the chances of clicks and, therefore, more traffic.  

When an ad appears for a relevant keyword search, people consciously or unconsciously click the topmost search results. Given that the top search results get the most traffic, the purpose of the pay-per-click is to appear on the top, even if the web page does not fulfill the search engine algorithm. Therefore, it is useful for both advertisers and publishers. For the advertiser, it ensures the influx of the most potential audience to the website. The amount of revenue that the advertisers produce due to the clicks is greater than the amount they have to pay to the publisher. Yet, it benefits the publisher, which gets paid for each click.

Advantages of PPC:

1.   It gets you instant traffic:

Using accurate keywords ensures instant traffic, meaning that you have the conviction to get results once you invest in the potential keyword. However, when you rely on the organic traffic, not only is that minimum in number, you are uncertain about how long it will take to increase traffic. Organic growth is essential for long-term success, but if that is kickstarted with rapid growth, the probability of the growth rises even more. Through PPC advertising, your ads appear on the top of the search results, which means that your ad has the most likelihood of being clicked. As a result, using this strategy can instantly drive traffic.

2.   It leads to positive ROI:

The costs that you put up to appear at the top of the search engine seem minimal in front of the revenue you can generate through the clicks or traffic. Formstack includes pay-per-click among the top three generators of on-page conversions. It means that PPC can lead to a more positive return on investment.

3.   Can serve as a pilot test before SEO:

All businesses indeed need SEO as a long-term marketing plan, and PPC can help shape an SEO plan for a business. Since PPC works on the keywords, it will identify how useful the specific keywords focus in the SEO. Through PPC, the potential of keywords can be checked. A keyword that is able to drive more traffic in PPC can be added to the SEO plan, and the keyword that does not do well can be omitted from the SEO.  

4.   It helps you plan Social Media strategy:

The PPC campaigns, including the search PPC advertising, can offer you data that you can use in the future strategically for planning social media strategy. Therefore, the integrated PPC campaigns will reduce the costs that you will spend for different PPC ads on multiple platforms. In Google, you have the option of Audience observation which you can use to see which audience groups are performing better. It will help you identify the group of people you have to target on social media. 

5.   This model is measurable and trackable:

One of the great things about PPC is that it is measurable and trackable. On Google, you can use Google Analytics and Google Ads tools to get the analytics about the traffic. You will get a handful of information about the performance details, which includes clicks, impressions, conversions, etc. You can monitor the analytic to learn what is missing and what is not.

Which one is better: SEO or PPC

By now, you must be able to differentiate between SEO and PPC. However, the answer to the question: which one is better- depends on your business requirements. If you want a long-term marketing plan, you should opt for SEO, but you must opt for PPC if you want immediate traffic. The table below is the crux of the difference between SEO and PPC. Choose the marketing plan that suits your requirements.

Stands for:Search Engine OptimizationPay per Click
Definition:A digital marketing strategy that focuses on optimizing the rank of a website in a search engine. It focuses on getting traffic from free and organic listings.It is an internet marketing strategy whereby the advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked.
Strategy Type:Inbound marekting strategyOutbound marketing strategy
Cost:Free or very low costsPaid
Traffic:Organic traffic over timeImmediate traffic
Range of results :Long term resultsShort term results
Goal:Improve visibilityImprove visibility and sales
Longevity:Ongoing processOne time setup
Types:1. On-site SEO
2. Off-site SEO
1. Search pay per click
2. Social media pay per click
3. Display advertising
4. Retargeting advertising

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