PPC vs SEO: When to pay for traffic

SEO vs PPC, which is better
19 Oct 2022

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?

In terms of what is best for your overarching marketing strategy, we recommend a combination of both SEO and PPC. We find that SEO and PPC complement each other really well if you have the time, commitment and marketing budget. For example, you can use PPC to re-target people who initially visited your website via organic search. You can also test a keyword strategy on PPC campaigns to see what works before implementing this into your SEO strategy.

If you would like any help with either your SEO or PPC marketing campaigns, please feel free to get in touch with the team!


Louise Rohan

Keeping the team on its toes is Louise’s main priority, though she’s also pretty good at keeping herself on her own toes, thanks to her passion for running. She is a giggling ray of sunshine in the office and is always up for a charity challenge.

More about me

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