PPC vs SEO: When to pay for traffic

Louise Rohan avatar
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SEO vs PPC, which is better

SEO and PPC are two of the most effective digital marketing channels for driving traffic to your website. You can appear at the top of search results using a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign or you can create a more natural search engine marketing strategy through search engine optimisation (SEO).

The challenge that many of our clients face is knowing which strategy is most suitable for their marketing objectives. The answer is different for every business, so let’s run through the pros and cons of each.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of optimising your website in order to increase its visibility in the search engine results. A good SEO strategy leads to an increase in organic website traffic and, more importantly, an increase in high quality website traffic, because users find the website through relevant search queries.

Pros of SEO

Consistent results

When done properly, SEO is a sustainable, long-term digital marketing strategy which should provide consistent results, as long as you keep your website optimised. It’s also more stable than PPC, as a PPC campaign is no longer visible as soon as you pause it.

Builds brand authority

When your website appears highly in organic search results, this builds brand authority and credibility, both for users and for Google. Occasionally you might come across a website that comes up as a PPC ad at the top of the search results, but isn’t on the first page of Google’s organic results. This makes you less likely to trust the website or click on their ad. If you have strong SEO for specific keywords, this also signifies to Google that you are an authority on this particular topic or keyword.

PPC vs SEO Which one is better?

Cons of SEO

Results take time

Getting to the top of the organic search engine results doesn’t happen overnight, or even over the course of a few weeks. SEO takes time to make a difference for a number of reasons relating to Google ranking factors. This is particularly the case if you are starting from scratch with a brand new website.

SEO requires expertise and time

SEO is a time-consuming process. It requires a high level of skill and expertise to ensure that it’s done correctly and everything is by the book. Google algorithms change regularly, so our SEO experts always need to be up-to-date on the latest changes. Certain search terms are highly competitive, meaning that websites need a considerable amount of work to even begin to be visible for these terms.

SEO requires consistency

Even though SEO is a stronger long term tactic than PPC, it still requires consistent attention. Your website needs to be frequently updated to ensure that it is fully optimised, and regular blogs and pages need to be written to keep the content up to date.

What is PPC?

PPC, or pay-per-click, is a form of digital advertising that allows you to pay to have your website appear on the search engine result page (SERP) when someone searches for specific keywords. As the name suggests, you pay every time someone clicks on the link to your website.

Pros of PPC

Quick results

Unlike SEO, PPC can provide you with results quite quickly once the campaign has been set up. This makes PPC an excellent choice when promoting a time sensitive product, such as an offer that will be ending in a couple of days.

Highly targeted

PPC advertising allows you to choose exactly who you want to target based on their search activity and demographic data. This means you can choose people based on their age, geographic location, interests and search patterns.

A/B testing

One of the huge benefits of PPC is that you can A/B test your campaigns by running two different ads simultaneously to see which one has a higher conversion rate. Change an element of the ad, such as the copy, and then run both versions for a period of time to see how each performs.

Google Search Ads vs SEO

Cons of PPC


PPC ads can be expensive, particularly when you are targeting a highly competitive keyword. The other thing to remember is that even when someone clicks on your advert, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will buy your product or service, so there is the possibility that some of your budget will be wasted.

Short-term solution

As soon as you pause your PPC campaign, you will stop getting traffic from it. A good way to think of this is that SEO is like owning your website traffic, while PPC is like renting it. Unless you have the budget to run year-round PPC campaigns for each of your target keywords, PPC should be a tactic that is employed alongside other digital marketing strategies in order to achieve the best results.

So, should you use PPC or SEO?

When considering the optimal approach for your overarching marketing strategy, we highly recommend integrating both SEO and PPC. Our experience indicates that SEO and PPC work seamlessly together, particularly if you have the dedication, time, and a well-planned marketing budget. For instance, leveraging PPC allows you to re-target individuals who initially discovered your website through organic search, creating a synergistic effect. Additionally, testing a keyword strategy through PPC campaigns provides valuable insights before seamlessly incorporating it into your SEO strategy.

Should you require assistance with either your SEO or PPC marketing campaigns, don’t hesitate to reach out to our professional team! We specialise in delivering effective strategies tailored to your unique needs. Whether you’re seeking professional SEO services or exploring affordable SEO packages, our team is here to help enhance your online presence and drive meaningful results.

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