Figuring out what the difference between SEO and PPC is and which one is better for your business might seem hard. However, once you really understand what each of them does it will all be clear.
Are SEO and PPC Advertising Both Important?
Almost all web traffic comes from Google search… so if you’re not ranking on the front page, or serving ads, you’re missing most of your audience.
There are two ways to rank on Google’s search results:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Google Ads (PPC)
First, we’ll break down the differences between the two. Then we'll go over the benefits of each. By the end, you should have a good idea which one you should focus on as well as action steps you can take to start.
The Difference Between SEO and Google Ads
While both of these tools can help you rank on the front page, they’re very different.
- Search Engine Optimization is the process of organically appearing in search results.
- Google Advertising is the process of appearing in search results through paid advertisements.
When you increase organic traffic to your website, you’re benefiting from SEO. With Google Ads, you increase traffic to your website through paid advertisements, you stop paying, your traffic stops.
At first glance, it may seem like using SEO over Google Ads is a no-brainer.
After all, why would you pay for something when you can get it for free?
However, it’s not that simple. First of all, to organically rank in search results takes a lot of time and effort. So just because you aren’t directly paying for traffic doesn’t mean developing your SEO is completely free of costs.
Let’s break down the benefits of SEO and Google Ads to help you determine which to use and when.
Benefits of SEO
SEO Benefit #1 - More Organic Traffic
When your website is receiving ‘organic traffic,’ it means you’re appearing in search results without paid ads.
In order to rank organically you'll have to optimize your website for SEO. his process can take a lot of time and effort since you’re in competition with other businesses putting out similar content, products, or services. But the payoff can be huge.
Organic traffic can be much more valuable than paid traffic for several reasons which we’ll cover more of below. The most obvious, of course, is that every click is free. No matter how many times your links are clicked when they appear organically, it will never cost you any money.
But it’s much more powerful than just being free.
SEO Benefit #2 - More Trust and Social Proof
Consumers today value authenticity. That means, the more they ‘trust’ you, the more likely they are to invest in your business.
Think about it, when you’re scrolling through search results, which would you trust more?
Unless we already trust a particular brand or business to get answers to our questions, we tend to naturally trust organic search results over paid results.
Consumers intuitively understand that anyone can pay to have their business promoted but not everyone can appear organically.
Organic results feel more honest and authentic which creates more trust and social proof.
And of course, the more customers trust you, the more likely they are to purchase your products and services. They’ll also click through to your website more when you organically appear in search results – which brings us to the next benefit.
SEO Benefit #3 - Increased Exposure
Many consumers need consistent exposure to products or services before they decide to purchase – or even click.
The great thing about consistently appearing in search results is that even if your customers don’t click your link, your business still gets's great exposure.
Perhaps next time that same customer sees your business they’ll remember you and make that click. This is a form of advertising in itself.
But of course, it’s absolutely free and therefore more sustainable.
SEO Benefit #4 - Sustainability
When you’re able to increase your website traffic organically, you help your business build a sustainable model for attracting traffic, getting more leads, and converting more sales.
Why? It's simple. Instead of paying for more leads, you're getting them organically – for free.
If you're looking ahead for your business's success in the long-term, SEO is something you're going to want to focus on. Although it may take some time to get going, the payoff can be huge.
Plus, you can start outranking your competitors.
SEO Benefit #5 - Competitive Advantage
With a top ranking on search results, you will find yourself with a distinct advantage over your competition... An ongoing source of traffic that unlike PPC advertising, doesn't require payment to get.
Since most website searchers click one of the first few results, your business will continuously be visible to consumers before they see your competition.
So even if they don't click, they'll still see you ranking ahead of your competition – and that can go a long way.
Benefits of PPC Advertising
We've gone over the benefits of search engine optimization so now it's time to go over the benefits of using PPC Ads. As you'll see, each has different perks.
PPC Benefit #1 - Top Ranking Positions in Search Results
Usually, Google shows paid ads at the top of the search results, before showing the organic results.
That means that your Google Ads will appear first, even before those businesses with a top SEO ranking.
This is a great advantage. Overall, the higher you rank on search results, the more likely your business is to receive clicks. However, you need to keep in mind some people skip over the ads. That's okay, there is still a benefit.
Because your business appears near the top of search results, you'll get a lot of exposure to your target audience...regardless of whether they click.
PPC Benefit #2 - Take Up More Space and Have More Control
Another great benefit is that Google Advertising gives businesses more freedom and control over the content that appears on search results.
With Google PPC or Display advertising, you're able to drive traffic to landing pages designed to convert that might not rank organically. This increases your visibility and provides the opportunity to show off your expertise right on the front page of search results.
PPC Benefit #3 - More Targeting Options
Unlike SEO, with Google Ads, you can choose your intended audience.
By using negative keywords lists, you can prevent your ad from showing up for people who aren't your ideal customer, or who are searching for certain brands.
This decreases the likelihood of clicks from people who aren't your ideal customers which can save you a lot of money on your ad spend.
PPC Benefit #4 - Immediate Results
As I mentioned before, SEO can be a long and arduous process.
With Google Ads, you create an ad, publish, and have it start appearing in search results in a matter of minutes.
This allows you to drive immediate traffic, as well as start testing different ideas, services, products, or markets.
PPC Benefit #5 - Faster Feedback
One of the great benefits of Goole Ads is the ability to track everything.
From A/B Testing to granular analytics, you'll get access to all the data you need to understand what is and isn't working.
This data not only improves your ads but can provide you with valuable insights into your business as well.
Plus, unlike SEO, much of this feedback is instant.
PPC Benefit #6 - More Qualified Leads
Paying for ads helps businesses to find qualified leads. These leads are essential for gaining conversions and being successful.
What are qualified and unqualified leads?
- When someone shows interest in your brand or product they are known as a qualified lead. This is someone who is actively searching for the solution that you are offering, and therefore clicks on your ad when they see it.
- Someone that isn’t really looking for a business like yours or the solution you’re offering is an unqualified lead. They click on your link because it shows up, but they are unlikely to buy because they haven’t been needing or wanting it. Or they're looking for a different company.
Qualified leads are much more likely to convert into customers, which is why it's important to target them.
Since you pay for every click in Google Ads, you want to make sure the best possible leads are the ones clicking.
Which Is Right For Your Business?
Each business is different. Therefore, it's important you understand your needs before choosing which growth strategies you should use.
If you have lofty goals and need fast results, Google Ads is likely the right focus for your business. However, with less money to spend and the time to go slow, it might be a good idea to develop a great SEO strategy.
No matter what you opt for at the beginning, you’ll want to optimize your website eventually and utilize SEO as much as possible. Google Ads is sure to help you reach those short-term goals, but good SEO strategies will sustain your business in the long run.
FAQs - The Difference Between SEO & PPC
PPC does not have a direct impact on SEO. However, it does help you improve your search engine optimization indirectly in many ways. One example is with increased exposure and new visitors hitting your site can help increase your natural backlink acquisition.
PPC is short for "Pay Per Click". It refers to how an advertiser pays for their ad placement. AdWords (or Google Ads) is an actual advertising platform that allows you to bid on traffic using the Pay Per Click (PPC) method.
Both are valuable. If your website is getting a ton of organic traffic and you are making sales adding PPC traffic for your top terms to increase your overall traffic share is an excellent idea. On the other hand, if you don't have any organic traffic yet using PPC can help you increase website traffic and uncover the best keywords which you can later optimize your website to rank for organically!
Nope. Google doesn't allow you to purchase your organic ranking, you have to earn it with SEO. However, the ads at the top of the search results receive a large percentage of the potential clicks so by running PPC campaigns you can show up at the top of the page regardless of your organic rank.
While this depends on your industry and the size/range of keywords you would like to rank for. Some niches have less competition than others which makes things easier. However in general you can expect to pay anywhere between $1500-$4000/mo for high-value SEO services that won't harm your website's reputation.