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What is the difference between PPC and SEO?

Written by Wes Parker

Posted on: September 26, 2023

The digital marketing world is jargon-heavy. Yet you need to understand what method you’re using, how it can benefit your company, and the different approaches which make your online advertising a success. What is PPC and SEO? What do they do for your business? And do you need both? Today the expert team from DemandMore is here to explain the difference, and how each strategy will help you see better advertising results.

The Core Question: Do I Need PPC or SEO?

PPC and SEO each have advantages. PPC provides immediate visibility and tight control over your ad placement 1 SEO offers long-term sustainability and credibility through organic search results 2

While you will swap focus between them as you develop your digital marketing goals, they’re both important. Rather than seeing them as clashing strategies, view them both as cornerstones of smart digital marketing. 

What is PPC and SEO?

Both PPC and SEO are digital marketing strategies that increase the visibility of your ads and organic online presence. Both will help drive traffic to your website/landing pages, but they do so through different means. 

PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

PPC advertising is the most popular type of online advertising, with 80% of businesses using it3 You pay a fee when a lead clicks your ad. PPC is used on search engines, social media, and even some online hubs and websites. 

The most common place for PPC advertising is search engine results pages, or SERPs. 90% of Google users see PPC ads4 You select a keyword which will determine what search terms trigger your ad. With strong copy, you will (hopefully) catch the interest of the viewer and get a click-through 5 It also boosts you to the top of the page, above organic listings. Here are some of PPC’s most notable features:

However, the results you generate will not linger like organic search engine placement will. Once you stop the campaign, the visibility disappears 7 Additionally, you need to continuously maintain and optimise your campaigns to ensure you are getting a ‘bang for your buck’ and the results you want 8

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEO is a process where you optimise your website’s content/structure to boost its organic traffic. Great SEO helps you rank higher – the Google No. 1 spot takes about 28%-36% of overall traffic9 – generating free, targeted traffic. 

SEO isn’t just about keywords. It also considers aspects like load time, user experience, responsiveness, and how other websites ‘view’ your website. Are you seen as an industry expert and trendsetter? Do you have backlinks from respected (high-quality) websites and social hubs in your niche10 Is it easy for search engines to ‘understand’ (crawl) your page and index it?

While SEO is a longer and more complex process than PPC advertising, it gives you long-term results that aren’t dependent on a paid campaign. The traffic is free and the ROI is fantastic11 As with PPC, you will need to monitor your site and adapt to changes in search engine algorithms to maintain your rank.

Common FAQs About PPC and SEO

Hopefully, you now have a better picture of the role PPC and SEO play in online advertising. Here are some common questions we receive about the two:

What is PPC and SEO? How are they different?

PPC is a paid advertising option where you bid for clicks, and see your ad placed at the top of search engine results (or on social sites) based on chosen keywords. SEO is the process of optimising your website for better unpaid (organic) rankings on search engines. PPC is immediate but has associated costs. SEO works over time, generating free traffic.

Should I focus on PPC or SEO?

Ideally, you should be working on both. However, your primary focus will shift between the two according to your goals and circumstances.  If you’re looking for immediate visibility and have a budget, PPC is powerful. It’s fantastic for short-term promotions, product launches, or targeting specific keywords and jumping the search engine queue. Strong SEO helps to build sustainable long-term results and the overall credibility of your brand.

When will I see results from PPC and SEO?

PPC provides near-immediate results. Once your ad campaign is set up and funded, your ads will start appearing on your chosen platform. SEO has a longer timeline, needing months to start seeing improvements in your traffic and organic ranking.

Both PPC and SEO are cornerstones of smart digital marketing. If you’re not sure where to begin with either, feel free to reach out to DemandMore today. We’re here to help you achieve your digital marketing goals seamlessly and hassle-free.