What’s the difference between PPC and SEO?

July 5, 2019

For the uninitiated, SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’, whilst PPC stands for 'pay per click'. They are both forms of search engine marketing designed to drive traffic to a business’s website and, by extension, increase sales and bolster a brand's reputation. If you’d like to learn a little more about the differences between PPC and SEO, we’ve put together a brief guide to help you get a handle on the basics.

What is SEO?

SEO is a cost-free marketing technique (as in you do not have to pay advertising fees) designed to place a company’s website high up in a search engine’s organic listings. Effective SEO entails understanding how search engines find and rank websites and can take considerable time and effort.

What is PPC?

As the name suggests, PPC requires marketers to pay search engines a given amount in order to show up in paid listings. The company will be charged depending on how many times web users click on their ad through to their website or business phone number. Generally speaking, PPC can help businesses attain visibility more swiftly.

What are the main differences between the two?

1. Cost

As already explained, SEO is fundamentally free whilst PPC can often cost substantial amounts of money. However, it is also important to consider the fact that SEO takes up employee time through activities such as keyword research and website optimisation. Ultimately, companies need to decide how best to use their resources when drawing up a digital marketing strategy.

2. Amount of traffic

Companies that manage to push their websites high up search engine rankings with certain keywords tend to attain much more traffic than companies that pay for those keywords. However, SEO is no easy task, and companies that have difficulty achieving positions on the first pages of search engines may prefer to use PPC. Indeed, doing so is more likely to attract clicks.
It can also work well together, so while you have someone working on SEO for a long term strategy you can get someone else to run your PPC for your shorter to longer term strategy at the same time.

3. Conversion rates

Whilst SEO conversion rates tend to be better than forms such as social media, they are not as good as PPC conversion rates. Highly optimised keywords are likely to create a high number of conversions but will generally cost more.

4. Search result position

As visible in the screenshot below, PPC ads are usually placed above and below organic search results. First page positions can be achieved through SEO by optimising websites according to a wide range of factors such as keywords, content, speed and mobile compatibility. With PPC, on the other hand, first page positions can be obtained by paying a very high cost per click.

Google SERPS Junly 2019

About Stacey Pledge

I'm a freelance PPC Specialist who works with clients across the UK, Europe and US to help maximise their results from paid search and help reach their business goals.

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