We are often asked by clients about SEO vs PPC, and whether they should be pursuing a SEO program, or a pay per click campaign. Nearly as often, we’re asked whether there’s any advantage to doing both, or if PPC and SEO are mutually exclusive.

SEO and PPC both have the same goal: to increase relevant traffic to your website that converts into sales or lead generation. Pay per click and SEO accomplish this goal in slightly different ways with different advantages and disadvantages. The decision to pursue SEO or PPC is specific to your business, what keyword phrases you’re pursuing, and your competitive position in the online marketplace.

This page offers a solid overview of the benefits and drawbacks of both SEO and PPC programs, as well as what kind of sites might prefer one over the other.

If you have any other questions about SEO vs PPC, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us. Our internet marketing specialists are always available to give an expert opinion on how to help your website the most.

SEO vs PPC Pros & Cons

SEO Pros
  • Over time, SEO is usually less costly than PPC. Once changes are made they remain effective for a long time.
  • Organic search engine rankings have greater credability, since you aren'’ paying for the position. Some users will never click a paid result.
  • SEO work done benefits your rankings in every search engine, from Google and Bing to small ones you’ve never heard of, and even in search engines that have not yet been created.
  • SEO efforts all build upon each other – the more SEO work you do on a site, the more it benefits the entire site – including every keyword phrase that you’re targeting across the site.
SEO Cons
  • Most SEO work requires making changes to your website. If you’ve invested heavily in a search engine unfriendly site, the effort to implement workarounds can be significant
  • SEO takes longer to see results – benefits of SEO work is measured in months, and it can take several months before you begin to see measurable results.
  • There is no guarantee of rankings through SEO. Search engines make hundreds of adjustments to their ranking algorithms every year, and any one of them can impact your position.
  • The number of different keywords you can target is limited by the size of your site. Synonymous keywords can be difficult to target.
  • There are some factors to SEO that remain entirely unknown. To some extent, your ability to rank number one is out of your hands.
PPC Pros
  • Pay per click is fast to implement. New campaigns can be ready to go in weeks and changes take effect in minutes. PPC is the fastest route to attracting traffic.
  • PPC can guarantee you a position in the search engines.
  • PPC allows you to target keyword phrases that pages of your site aren’t directly build around.
  • No changes have to be made to your website to gain the increased traffic.
  • It’s very easy to test the effectiveness of different keywords and promotional offers with PPC.
PPC Cons
  • PPC can be expensive, and typically the most desirable keywords that drive the most traffic are the ones with the highest cost per click.
  • You must continue to pay for your clicks every month – if your PPC budget drops, then your traffic and sales will drop as well.
  • Some searchers will never click on a paid ad – a certain percentage of search engine traffic is beyond the reach of PPC campaigns.
  • The day-to-day work of properly maintaining a PPC campaign is significant, requiring almost daily oversight.

SEO might be best for your site if:

  • You are interested in building long term results, not just for today, but for years in the future
  • You are willing to wait a few months for consistent results
  • You want to work on improving your site’s usability and regularly add content to your expand your site
  • You want to maximize the amount of traffic your site can attract for the lowest cost

PPC might be best for your site if:

  • Your site is new or generating little organic traffic and you want to start getting traffic immediately
  • Your site is targeting highly competitive keywords that could take years to rank well for (shoes, jewelry, books, etc)
  • Your website was built in a search engine unfriendly platform and you don’t’ want to invest in rebuilding it
  • You have a large advertising budget and want to maximize all traffic channels
  • You want to be able to quickly test keyword and landing page effectiveness
  • You have a promotion that you want to be able to turn on and off at specific times

Combining Both SEO & PPC

SEO and PPC programs do not have to be mutually exclusive. It is very possible to combine both and see the advantages of each type of traffic generation while mitigating their disadvantages. However, you should have both campaigns overseen by the same person or firm. See SEO & PPC Integration for more details.

Case Studies:

Here's just a few example of some of the websites that we have used as our SEO templates. We combine great content with easy to ready link profiles that enable Google to crawl our sites with the speed and precision of a falcon!

Portland Precision Manufacturing:

Portland Precision Manufacturing Company has grown from a two man shop to one of the most versatile and advanced contract CNC precision machining operations in the Northwest. Although we have grown substantially from the beginning, our efforts have been directed not to be the "biggest" but to be the "best" by providing our customers with the finest in quality precision machining and service at a competitive price.

We use our SEO strategy of providing relevant content for a controlled long term marketing approach vs a shorter term PPC Campaign which would lack overall focus off of PPMFG long term goals, which are to be embedded in the precision manufacturing arena.

Marketing Masters:

Marketing Masters flagship product, the clip nut, is a type of fastener that allow you to quickly and easily mount parts and material. Simply slide on and snap into place. This eliminates the need for tooling and labor costs, inherent with riveting, clinching or staking.

We chose a SEO approach that mirrors their excisting PPC campaigns so we could combine marketing forces. In this Case Study we inherited a PPC campaign in which we did not want to have two different focuses, this campaign benefited from both PPC as well as a strategic SEO focus.