SEO vs PPC: Is One Really Better Than the Other?

The SEO vs PPC debate rages strong. Some advice out there swears that SEO is the way to go while others claim that PPC is where's it's at. But is one really better than the other? Find out here.


With the average small business set to spend around $75,000 this year on digital marketing, it's essential that you choose the right path forward. When debating in the world of SEO vs PPC, you need to ask the right questions to know which is right for you and your company.

Here are 5 questions to ask about your company before you choose between the two.

1. What Can You Afford?

When you're deciding between SEO and PPC, a lot of your decision making comes down to affordability. The benefit of SEO is that you can do a lot of the work on your own and it costs very little. The upside of PPC is that you can set it up in just a few minutes and let the revenue roll in.

The issues arise is when you're not an expert at either one. If you're a novice at SEO, you'll use keywords that aren't adequate, tactics that are deployed incorrectly or make a lot of mistakes. If you don't know what you're doing with PPC, you could set yourself up to start hemorrhaging profit on clicks that yield nothing for you.

When funds are an issue or if you're a new company, you should choose SEO over PPC. If you're a big company with your keywords and search terms sorted out, PPC will save you more time. The difference can be boiled down to whether you're cash poor or time poor.

2. What's Your Staffing Situation?

If you're a new company with few staff members handling everything, you could be struggling to juggle multiple roles. If your new business is starting at an easy pace and you're not worried about taking your time, you could handle SEO from a DIY perspective. If you've got an entire department devoted to marketing and staff working on digital marketing, SEO might be a worthwhile option.

For companies who are outsourcing their web services, you might have an option to simply tick a box and have SEO services added. If you're outsourcing, you're certainly going to get the perspective of experts.

Staffing can be a challenge and for some companies, it's their biggest expense. However, it might be cheaper to have someone on staff to manage your web presence and SEO than to risk a giant PPC bill that gets you nowhere. If your ads aren't being seen by the people who need to see them, then that's money wasted and flushed down the drain.

3. Do You Know Your Audience?

One of the biggest differences between PPC and SEO is how well you have to know your audience.

When you're running ads, customers know what they're getting into when they click them. They don't have illusions that they're just casually browsing the internet on a Tuesday night and reading articles. They've clicked an ad because they know what they want.

However, if you work with SEO, you get the chance to really pitch your products. Through the course of your blog, you can be speaking to customers who are out browsing for the answer to a common question. You'll come up in search results for questions about products and services like yours and you'll get clicks from people who are really paying attention.

SEO is a great tactic if you have the time and energy to put into researching strong keywords and creating good content. With PPC, you set the target and let the ad provider handle all the work.

4. Do You Have Time To Blog?

The best way to make an impact on SEO is to create a blog. When people use a search engine, they're either looking for a specific product or the answer to a question. A blog allows you to capture both audiences by answering that question and then offering your products as the solution they're looking for.

Within your blog and all of the metadata on it, you can be placing your keywords and keyword phrases. With due diligence in your research, you'll be able to target potential customers with accuracy beyond what you ever imagined.

PPC does some of this work for you. Instead of having to attract clients to your website, you can go to the websites that potential clients are already on. Instead of chasing them down or luring them in, you can pay the site or the ad provider and have them track down the clientele.

5. Are You In The Midst of Growth?

For businesses that are in a big moment of growth, the difference between PPC and SEO can be critical. If your staff doesn't have the time to work on and massage your SEO image, you could fall behind your competitors quickly. If there's shuffling, it could be hard to keep adjusting your SEO.

For companies that are in the middle of a big moment of growth with many things uncertain, you need to ensure that there's always money coming in. Your PPC implementation will keep the money and clients coming in while you work on everything else.

If you need all hands on deck, you can't have people tracking down information or copy for a blog that isn't making you money yet. You're better off buying an ad and then adjusting your strategy once you're all settled in.

If you want both SEO and PPC to be part of a more robust marketing plan, take the time to read more.

SEO vs PPC Doesn't Have To Be a War

In the end, the SEO vs PPC battle is artificial. You can actually implement both at your company.

While it might take more work to manage the two, you could be hitting your customers over the head from all sides with the right combination.

If you're still in the phase where you're learning about SEO, check out our guide to learn more.