difference between seo and ppc

SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click) Online Marketing Options

When running a business, you may at some point decide to invest in online marketing. SEO, PPC – What’s the best option? You’ve likely heard of SEO and PPC, but may be wondering, “what’s the difference?”

In the simplest form, SEO is the improvement of your website to better rank organically in search results. PPC is the paid method to have your website show on page 1 of search results.

While both important components of a well-rounded digital marketing strategy, they do come with differences. Depending on your goals it may make sense to invest in one or both options.

By making improvements to your website through SEO, this will help it rank higher in Google search results over time. In addition, there is no actual cost associated with SEO other than the time needed to invest in order to improve the rank of your website.

With PPC, you buy advertisements on Google that show up either above of or beneath organic search results. It’s worth noting that while running PPC ads can help increase the visibility of your website on search results, it doesn’t actually have any direct impact on SEO.

Knowing this, which one is right for you and your business? Let’s dive a little further to find out.

What is the difference between SEO and PPC?


Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the practice of “optimizing” your website so that is shows higher on Google search results for targeted keywords. For example, depending on what your business is, you will probably want to show up for certain terms related to the products or services you offer. When your website shows up higher on Google for those terms, this is the result of SEO. That is to say, showing up higher on search results than your competitors.

Determining how well a website ranks on search engines depends on a number of factors. This includes items such as:

  • How technically well your site is set up for SEO;
  • The amount of quality content you have on your site;
  • How quickly the site loads;
  • If your site is mobile-friendly (meaning how well it behaves and renders on mobile devices);
  • The number of other quality sites linking to your own;
  • Tow frequently new content is added to the site;
  • Among many more factors.

While this sounds like a checklist, SEO shouldn’t really approached in that fashion. It should be approached by trying to make your website a great resource for visitors to your site, first. The better you are able to do this, the better it will actually be for your SEO long term.

Another Important SEO Factor

Many SEO specialists focus solely on improving a website for search engines, but leave out the human factor. Meaning how useful is your website for actual people? If your website is optimized for both people and for search engines, you give yourself a better chance to rank higher for the topics important to you.

When it comes to SEO, you aren’t able to pay to rank higher. The search results that show up on Google and other search engines are a direct result of the organic efforts mentioned above that have been put into that website. So while there is no direct cost associated with SEO, it is much more of a time and effort investment above all else.

But if time is of the essence for you and you are trying to show on Google immediately, then PPC may be a better option for you in the meantime.


With PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, this allows you to pay to have your website show higher on Google. The way it works is that you bid on keywords that you want to rank for related to your business. Then when people search for terms related to your keywords, your ad will then show up in search results.

When that person clicks on your ad, you will then be charged for the cost of that click. Hence the name “pay-per-click.” However, what you will pay depends on the budget you set and how competitive the keywords you are trying to rank for are. Meaning if other advertisers are also trying to rank for a certain word, they will compete by bidding higher to try to show before other advertisers bidding on the same word.

Sound complicated? It’ not really. It just requires a little research, understanding what makes a good ad, and then bidding appropriately on the right keywords. Here is an overview of how to use Google Ads. This is Google’s PPC advertising platform.

While PPC has no direct effect on how well your website ranks organically in search results, it can still help increase traffic to your site. This is because when you run a PPC ad, you’re essentially buying more traffic. It’s a great option for businesses who need to get new leads quickly and don’t yet have a strong web presence through SEO.

In addition, there’s no real time to wait with PPC ads like there is with SEO. Once the ads are set up, they go though a quick review process which usually takes less than a day. Assuming your ads get approved, boom, your ad is instantly in search results for people to see.

Is it better to invest in SEO or PPC?

While the decision to invest in either depends on your business type and goals, both SEO and PPC come with their own benefits. So if your business is able, we would actually recommend leveraging both.

A relatively new online advertising option is Pay-Per-Lead ads. Google Local Services Ads are an example of pay-per-lead advertising and may be worth considering if your run a local services related business and are interested in attracting customers in your area.

A good option for many businesses is to put effort into SEO so that your website begins to rank higher over time. But while you’re placing effort in SEO which can take several months to a year to reap ranking benefits, you can leverage PPC advertising so that you’re immediately getting visitors to your website.

Then as time goes on, you can dial back PPC some if you want when your SEO efforts really begin to take off.

A sound digital marketing strategy will likely include a mix of both SEO and PPC.

Ready to Get Started with SEO?

We’ve helped a number of clients with their SEO and PPC efforts. Perhaps we can help your business too. Give our SEO plan a try.

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