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SEO vs. PPC— here’s the difference!

This is an article “SEO vs. PPC— here’s the difference!” by Marc Primo Warren


Having trouble figuring out if your business can get more out of either your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts or via pay-per-click (PPC)? Knowing the difference between the two and reviewing the benefits that each one can give you will help you find the right fit for your marketing efforts and improve your overall plan and strategy.



For years, marketers have heavily relied on SEO to boost their organic search ranks and gain increased volumes with higher cost-per-lead than simply opting for paid searches. With new updates in social media platforms’ Community Guidelines and search algorithms, every businesses’ digital marketing strategy now has to adjust and determine if SEO still works for them, or if PPC via paid search is the way to go.


Today, more factors have to be considered, including your target market’s search intent, how they use the web in terms of time spent online, which sites they visit, and how you can engage them more effectively.


Carefully observing how SEO and PPC work, you’ll see that two things stand out. One is that paid ads will be more visible at the top of the search page, while organic listings powered by SEO appear below it. The other fundamental difference between the two, of course, is that organic posts via SEO are free, while paid ads have cost-per-click rates.


Let’s get to know more about your SEO and PPC options, and how you can amplify your marketing strategy towards choosing the right channels for your business.


The benefits of SEO in 2021


This year, the organic share in the total online traffic spiked to 55%, making it as important as ever in every business’s marketing strategy. After being utilized by marketers all over the world for more than 15 years now, SEO continues to create a lion’s share of online traffic for thousands of businesses.


While still being the largest driver of online traffic for various industries, there’s no doubt that optimizing your SEO efforts will always yield better results. Aside from boosting your brand awareness at no cost at all, effectively associating targeted keywords to your brand can potentially offer high rankings in search engine pages for more visibility. This means that you can instantly become an industry authority that your followers can trust and find credible over your competition. With increased online traffic to your site, re-targeting wider audiences also becomes easier without any cost-per-click rates.


However, SEO is not that easy. It takes a lot of money, thought, and effort to come up with compelling collaterals that can capture your target audiences’ interest and influence them to follow your brand. When done right, you will see a significant increase in your ROI that remains sustainable over time, even if you cut back on your marketing budget.


One good thing about SEO is that most online users usually prefer to click organic search results rather than paid ads, which also improves your click-through rate (CTR) and reflects significant success for your ad or even e-mail campaigns.


By experimenting with both your short and long-tail keywords and using the right ones that can put you up the search engine results page (SERP), your traffic numbers can technically go up, although this might only be possible if you align your organic efforts with a paid ads strategy. Relying on organic posts alone can be a slow process and might minimize your chances for higher CTR and online visibility, so you might want to do both SEO and PPC at the same time.


What you can get from PPC


If applying SEO to your marketing efforts alone takes a long time to develop, PPC strategies can increase your online traffic much faster. To put it simply, PPC is your typical advertisement that is posted online rather than traditional media. In this case, hiring a digital marketing agency to take care of your brand assets, content management, and online performance can give you a higher chance for conversions in no time, though it can be a bit too expensive.


Agencies keep abreast of various social media updates on ad placements. For instance, Google recently made another core update early in February this year, which means that content relevancy and search rankings will again be significantly affected. While these regular shifts can be addressed in both SEO and PPC efforts, PPC agencies can give you more leverage and control in what you want your followers to receive from you online, without worrying about ad guidelines and policies.


So, what other advantages can PPC give you over SEO? Paid searches appear on top of a SERP for more visibility so you won’t have to worry about more keyword experimentation the way you would with SEO. And, if you sell products, you can benefit enormously from Google’s product listing ads which, unlike organic ads, lets you place beauty shots on your paid ads so that online users can easily see what you have to offer, translating to higher click-through rates.


Now, while you may shell out a bigger slice of your market on your PPC efforts, you can still control how much you spend and also review how much return on ad spend (ROAS) you have. What you can do if you’re on a tight budget is use PPC for audiences you wish to focus on and re-target for conversion, while continuing your SEO efforts for your customer lifetime value audiences.


SEO and PPC go hand in hand


Perhaps the main solution to every digital marketing problem is always synergy. The bottom line is that organic and paid ads work well together in boosting your online traffic and brand visibility.


PPC can help you come up with the right high-performance keywords that you can use in your organic posts, and you can also do A/B testing from your paid ads and use the ones that work in your organic listings and landing pages. With better re-marketing insights from your paid ads, you can easily customize your mailers for your target audiences across your marketing funnel.


Both PPC and SEO do have their respective pros and cons but when done together correctly, you certainly have a higher chance of increasing the number of loyal customers who will stand by you in the long term.


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