SEO VS PPC: Which is better?

4 Minute Read | Search Engine Marketing

SEO and PPC advertising are acronyms that describe two different online marketing strategies.


What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation and refers to the process of getting traffic from the ‘free’, ‘organic’ listings on search engines. All major search engines have such results, where web pages and other content (such as videos or local listings) are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users.

The highlighted section below shows the ‘organic’ listings, these websites have more than likely being participating in Search Engine Optimisation.

How Does It Work?

The hard part is optimising a site so that the search engines recognise it as highly qualified and relevant to the search query.

An SEO’s job is to understand what Google deems relevant and high quality in order to increase natural rankings when a site is surveyed or crawled. In order for a website to rank higher, there are two main factors Google considers: On-Page and Off-Page factors.

On-Page factors include:

  • Keywords that are relevant to what people are searching for.
  • The site’s architecture.  For example: load time, internal linking structure, title tags, search friendly URLs etc.
  • Content on the pages relevant to the products and users.  Content is KING!

Off-Page factors focuses on getting other sites to include a link/reference back to your website. This is seen as a vote of confidence in the eyes of Google. Known as “Link Building”, this process is best managed by building relationships and generating quality links vs. spamming links across the web.

It’s most important to remember that SEO takes time and unique, quality content is the best approach to building links.

Each page on your website needs to be optimised for the particular keywords or phrases that you wish to appear for in search engine results. This is a process driven exercise, and involves a huge number of elements. Lets break them down into categories:

Design and accessibility

  • The website design needs to be fresh.

  • The pages on the site need to be accessible to both users and search engines.

Content and Page elements

  • The content on your website must be unique, fresh and optimised for the relevant key words.

  • Meta elements such as meta descriptions, alt text, H1s and page titles much be unique and keyword rich

Links to your website

  • Links from authoritative and trust worthy sites are favourable from the point of view of search engines.

Social Media

  • Active participation in blogging, forums, Facebook and other social networks are favourable.


What is PPC?

If you’ve ever used the Internet, you’ll have seen Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising in action. Called “sponsored results”, PPC ads appear beside and/or above the natural search results in Google.

How Does Google Adwords Work?

Advertisers can create ads which can be set to appear when a user types in a search query into Google. Take a look at the highlight section below, these are paid ads.

How Does It Work?

Each advertiser selects a range of keywords for which they want their ads to appear. The ad consists of a title, two description lines, and a display URL.

You can see in the above screenshot that there are 3 listings at the top, and then 6 down the side. There are 9 paid ads in total running from positions 1 to 9.

What position do my ads appear in?

Simply put, the Adwords network is an auction-style bidding war for positions. Generally, the top advertiser pays more to be there than someone in the lower positions. However, there are other factors that determine the price you pay, such as the relevance of your ad to the keyword.

How much do I pay per click?

As mentioned before, Adwords is an auction style ‘supply/demand’ market place and advertisers can change the amount they are willing to bid on each keyword. As you can image some industries are more profitable than others and generally will have a higher click price. It also comes down to the keyword level,

Advantages of PPC

  • Quick: you can be number #1 on a Google search result for your desired keywords within 60 minutes.

  • More measurable than SEO.

Disadvantages of PPC

  • It’s costly, so you need to ensure that your investment pays off.

So which is best?

While it’s true that SEO may provide better long-term results, PPC can be incredibly valuable. PPC campaigns are great for short-term sales or for limited time promotions.

PPC and SEO both have their place in the search-marketing world. The key is to figure out which works best for both your short and long term goals.

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