Search Engine Optimization vs. Pay-Per-Click

A common question in online marketing is: “What is the difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC)?” Then there is the follow-up question: “Which one is better for my business?” SEO and PPC are two important factors for online marketing, but they are also very different. Before you embark on your search engine marketing campaign it is important to know the difference between SEO and PPC, and how to use each one to your company’s advantage.

What is Search Engine Optimization? 

When searching for information on the internet it is typical that users will not click through multiple pages to find what they are looking for. Generally, they will only look at the first page to find what they need. Therefore, it is important that your website is listed within those first few results in order to gain more traffic to your website. So how exactly do you get your website to land in the top rankings on search engines? Well, that is where SEO comes into the picture. SEO is a method that is used to increase the amount of organic (non-paid) traffic to your website by obtaining a high ranking placement in search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

There are multiple strategies, methods, and techniques that can be used to ensure your site is accessible to search engines and improve your page rankings. Google ranks websites by using an algorithm that looks at over 200 ranking factors, but overall Google ranks pages based on their quality, usability, and relevance. The first strategy you should always start with is onsite edits. These are direct edits you can make on your website such as page titles, meta descriptions, and body content. Onsite edits are a great first strategy to tackle because you have control of your own website, but not the rest of the internet. After you’ve tackled the onsite edits, here are a few more strategies to consider to improve your rankings:

  • Link building
  • Keyword research
  • Backlinking
  • Quality content
  • Keyword rich meta descriptions and page titles
  • Site navigation

Why You Should Use SEO

SEO is a marketing tool that can bring more customers and leads to your business. In the mind of consumers, when a business is ranked high on search engines it provides more business credibility and consumers tend to trust those sites more. Therefore, users are more likely to click on your listing if it is ranked high, which will increase the traffic to your site. However an increase in traffic on your site will not guarantee a purchase from every visit. But in theory, if you gain more traffic chances are a few of those users might actually become customers.

What is Pay-Per-Click?

Pay-per-click advertising is an online marketing strategy in which advertisers pay to gain more traffic to their website. It allows advertisers to bid for ad placement in search engines, so that their business is listed on the first page of search results. These are the ads that you see at the top of the page in Google and they also have the word “Ad” highlighted in yellow. When using this method, advertisers are only charged when a user clicks on the sponsored ad. Essentially, PPC is a way of buying visits to your website.

There are multiple platforms on the internet that enable PPC, but the most popular is Google AdWords. Just like SEO, PPC looks at a variety of factors to decide who gets to appear in the ad space of the search results page. Google determines this by calculating an advertiser’s Ad Rank which looks at keywords, the landing page, and quality score.

  • Keywords – PPC campaigns are built around keywords, so it is important to create an effective PPC keyword list. This list should contain keywords that are relevant to your campaign and popular search terms.
  • Landing Page – When a user clicks on your ad they will be redirected to a landing page on your website. This page should have optimized content that is relevant and contains a call-to-action.
  • Quality Score – This is a value that rates the quality of your landing pages, click-through-rate, keywords, and your PPC ads. Google uses this method to reward you with higher ad rankings and lower costs.

Budget is another factor when creating your PPC campaign. Before you start your campaign it can be beneficial to know what goals you are trying to reach such as an increase in sales or establishing brand awareness. Once your goals have been set you can then decide how much money to spend. Google AdWords is a great tool to use for PPC campaigns because it lets you set daily budgets for your campaign and you can change your budget at anytime. If you notice that you are receiving a lot of clicks you can increase your daily budget and vice versa. For more information on setting your PPC campaign budget click here.

Why You Should Use PPC

PPC is a method that can start generating traffic to your website right away. Once you start your PPC campaign you can be on the first page of search engines within a day if you have a high quality score. PPC can also be very profitable. If a user clicks on an ad that was $2, but makes a purchase of $250, then that $2 you paid for the ad was worth the substantial profit.

Which method is better for my business?

SEO and PPC are two great strategies when creating a search engine marketing campaign. If your company’s goal is to gain immediate traffic within a short amount of time, than PPC is the best option for you. If you are looking to gain high quality traffic leads and more long-term credibility within your site then SEO should be your strategy. However, that is not to say the two methods can’t be used together. When SEO and PPC are both used correctly, it is possible to have a very successful campaign. Whatever strategy you decide to use, good luck!

Abbey Hadar

Abbey is a Search Analyst at Netvantage SEO, an online marketing company that specialized in SEO, PPC, and social media. At Netvantage, Abbey assists with social media outreach, web optimization, and content creation.

One Comment

AguaWeb Calgary

Pay per click will pay in the short run but SEO will be effective in the long run. It is very important to decide which one will be the best for the user.


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