• SEO vs PPC: What are the Differences?


The two most (mistakenly) interchangeable phrases in online marketing are SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing), also known as PPC (pay-per-click advertising).

People routinely site one when really describing the other and it’s no wonder. To the novice online marketer these terms seem to describe the same marketing tactic but in reality, they don’t. Let’s go over SEO vs PPC, their differences, benefits and ultimately which you should be using.


SEO vs PPC: Definitions

SEO (search engine optimization): The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

PPC (pay-per-click): An internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites in which the advertiser pays a publisher when the ad is clicked—hence the term paid search/search engine ads.

Well, that should clear things up! Kidding. Essentially, SEO drives traffic to your website based on search engine results (and is free but requires you to do some backend optimizing of your website and its content). PPC, on the other hand, requires you to pay for advertisements.

SEO vs PPC: Benefits

Both tactics have stellar benefits and can net you quality website hits if implemented properly.

Benefits of SEO

Increase Your Brand’s Credibility

The higher you rank on search engines like Google, the more the general public will trust you.

SEO is Free

you may spend some dough on optimizing your website to be easily searchable but you won’t be paying for the number of visits you receive or ongoing traffic as a result of your SEO efforts.

Better Site Usability

You get a two-for-one here. Optimizing your website for SEO also means you take care of any navigation issues within your site. In order to have better SEO results, your webpage needs to make it easy for other pages to crawl your site

Higher Conversion Rates

Site traffic generated via organic searches translate into higher conversion rates for most sites. This is because SEO is the practice of getting your website pages to show in results for searches relevant to your business.

Sustained Success

Taking some time out to perform on- and off-page SEO tactics is well worth the investment. For example, if you take 15 minutes to insert keywords in their proper meta tag locations, that page can be ranking and exposing your business to more and more people for days, months, even years to come. s

SEO Sucess is Self-Perpetuating

Once you start to rank high on search engines, it is easier to continue ranking high and for other pages you publish to improve their rank. The better your rank, the more traffic you get, and the more traffic you get, the better your rank.

Benefits of PPC

Controllable Cost

Although PPC costs money, you’re completely in control because you start by setting your budget at the onset. Then, the ad platform will show your ad according to how much you’re willing to spend per click, per day.

Quick Results

Unlike SEO, you may begin to see positive results incredibly fast with PPC advertising. While a blog post might take some time to climb to the first page, your paid result will appear in an instant.

Targeted Marketing

PPC allows you to dictate where and when your ads will appear, ensuring you get in front of your primary demographic.

Measurable Results

Most PPC platforms include some sort of analytics to gauge the success of your campaign. Information like clicks, site visits and costs are at your fingertips and help you decide if you’re spending your marketing funds wisely.


SEO vs PPC: Challenges

There are two sides to every coin and there is no perfect system. Here are some of the challenges associated with each of these online marketing methods.

Challenges with SEO

SEO Takes Time

SEO not only takes time to implement but the subsequent results can take months as well. However, this is part of the reason why the success is so sustainable.

SEO is Keyword-Dependent

Marketers must be sure they’re using keywords relevant to their business, otherwise they’ll pull traffic with no interest in what you’re selling witch ultimately hurts your SEO standing.

The Risk of Web Traffic Cannibalization

You also have to make sure that your website pages don’t compete with one another in ranking. Each page, including every blog post, should target a different keyword.

Search Engine Algorithm Changes

Google and other large search engines are constantly improving their platforms, which can affect your SEO rank and is, unfortunately, totally out of your hands.

Challenges with PPC

Budget Restrictions

Limited budgets may not yield the results you’re hoping for. The higher the cap on your budget the more better your outcomes

PPC Requires a Bit of Expertise

PPC is not as simple as plugging some information into a PPC provider’s template and hitting an “on” button. PPC can behave a bit like traditional marketing vehicles so having a background in advertising is useful

Confidence Concerns

People aren’t the quickest to trust paid advertisements and would often rather be introduced to a company through a source they deem more reliable. The good thing about paid search advertising is that people do trust search engines.

SEO vs PPC: Which Should You Use?

Ultimately, the best case scenario is to utilize both SEO and PPC in your marketing mix. Each seems to have benefits the other is lacking. Pay-per-click is especially useful to newer businesses since SEO takes time to work and you want to get in front of people, like, now.

However, SEO has become a standard since everyone has become privy to its benefits, so if you’re in the process of building a website, be sure to incorporate SEO good practices to avoid backtracking down the road.

ThriveHive combines human expertise and easy-to-use technology to make marketing easy and affordable for businesses of any size. Whether you're looking to do it all yourself, have it off your plate entirely, or are somewhere in between, ThriveHive eliminates the guesswork and maximizes your time so you can get back to what's really important: running your business. Learn more about our services here: https://thrivehive.com/advertising-services/

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