SEO Vs PPC: When to use these marketing strategies

When it comes to finding the right digital marketing strategy for your business, knowing the key differences between SEO and PPC is essential. By understanding how, when and why to use PPC marketing or focus on SEO, you can work out which is better for you.

  • What is SEO in marketing?
  • Can SEO and PPC work together?
  • When is PPC better than SEO and vice versa?

Let’s dive right in and answer all your questions about SEO vs PPC

SEO vs PPC: What’s the difference?

Both organic (SEO) and paid (PPC) search traffic is valuable to the growing business. As the digital world develops and expands, it’s ever more pressing that companies have a digital marketing strategy in place. SEO and PPC formulate the two basic strategies for achieving one’s digital marketing objective.

SEO and PPC target these two types of traffic by either optimising one’s website to rank higher in the search engine’s results or to pay the search engine directly to promote your website above the organic search results respectively.

In a nutshell, SEO focuses on driving organic traffic to your website while PPC advertising is focused on capturing paid search traffic.

What is organic traffic?

Organic traffic refers to visitors to your website by way of the automatic algorithms’ ranking in response to a specific search term. For example, if you were to search for “dog groomers near me” in Google and clicked on the third entry in the automatic search result ranking, you’d be counted as organic traffic.

What is paid traffic?

By comparison paid traffic refers to website visitors that click on a paid advertisement. This could include ads at the top or bottom of a search engine results page (abbreviated as SERP in the industry) or ads displayed on another website. 

SEO: A breakdown

SEO in advertising and marketing stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It refers to the process of customising the content, functioning, credibility, visibility and relevance of your website so that Google and other search engine algorithms rank it higher in the results list for specific keywords and search terms.

Why is SEO important?

Search engines have artificially intelligent algorithms that crawl through all the websites on the internet and identify which sites are most likely to be both trustworthy and relevant for a specific search by an internet user. 

Considering the fact that most people click on the top 3-5 results for any given search and a tiny minority click past the 10th entry, a website’s ranking on a search engine is highly valuable. 

How does SEO work?

Digital marketers use a variety of different tactics for affecting the optimisation levels of a website and increase the likelihood the search engine algorithm will recognise it as relevant and trustworthy. 

On-page optimisation

From text and headings to incorporation of relevant keywords and text for images, there are many ways in which the content of your website’s pages can be written and structured for optimisation purposes. 

Off-page optimisation

Sharing your website’s content on social media and including backlinks to other websites and articles is a great way to optimise your website ‘off page’. Depending on the industry, listing in business directories, engaging influencers or even guest blogging on other websites can all improve a site’s optimisation. 

Technical SEO

It’s not just the content on (and off) your website that will affect the SEO and SERP ranking. There are a variety of technical aspects that Google and other algorithms look for before recommending your website in a search. Some of these include:

  • Are the links on the website broken (don’t go anywhere)?
  • Are the links on the website linking to reputable websites?
  • Does the website load quickly or does it suffer from lag time?
  • Are the images on the website in the right format?
  • Is the website mobile and tablet friendly?
  • Is the site secure?

All of these aspects go into SEO marketing strategies.

SEO mistakes to avoid

When we say SEO malpractice (often referred to as black hat SEO) is bad, we mean it. In fact, search engines can even blacklist or penalise websites that engage in dodgy practices. 

Here are some of the main SEO mistakes to avoid:

  • Stuffing too many keywords unnaturally in your content.
  • Using too many different keywords.
  • Hiding text and links on your website e.g. off-screen, behind images or white text on a white background).
  • Using different content and URLs for search engines and human traffic respectively. 

PPC: A breakdown

PPC advertising stands for Pay Per Click and it means exactly what you’d think: It’s online advertising that charges the advertiser every time a person clicks on your ad.

PPC advertisements can be displayed along the header and/or footer of search engine page results or it can be displayed on other websites and even social media. 

Why is PPC important?

PPC marketing is important as it allows you to target your advertisements towards a specific market and audience. You can define your audience based on location, interests, gender, age, and profession as well as the specific words or phrases they search for.

PPC also allows you to advertise for a set period of time if you’re looking to promote a specific deal or event. 

How does PPC work?

Unlike SEO, PPC ads offer immediate results and can be turned on or off whenever you need. You can create an ad campaign that works for a set period of time or targets audiences searching in a particular geographical area.

PPC ads can also be targeted towards remarketing. This means it focuses on people who may have visited your website before but left before making a purchase or contacting you. 

The important thing to note here is that unlike social media ads or even some display ads on other websites, PPC on search engines are text only. They’re also marked with the label “Ad” so search engine users know that they are paid for and not an organic result.

PPC mistakes to avoid

To avoid wasting money on bad or ineffective paid traffic advertising, make sure you avoid the following common PPC mistakes:

  • Using generic keywords when targeting your ads.
  • Not defining your audience enough and keeping it too broad.
  • Not conducting ongoing monitoring and subsequent improvements or updates.
  • Using too many channels.
  • Sending traffic to a badly designed or functioning landing page that does not convert.

SEO vs PPC comparison

Knowing whether SEO or PPC marketing is right for you depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re looking for a long term strategy and already have high domain authority, SEO is a strong option. If you need leads now and have competitors in your industry ranking much higher in organic search, PPC could be the better choice.

Remember to consider your target audience, your marketing goals and your budget. 

The pros of SEO

Long term

SEO works over the long term to build up trust, relevance and authority. It can take some time for an SEO strategy to bear fruit but it will also provide a steady and reliable stream of online traffic.


An effective SEO campaign can help you scale growth in a predictable and manageable way with constant and consistent organic traffic. 


Due to the fact that SEO has a longer term time horizon for effectiveness, it’s often seen as a more affordable investment.

Cons for SEO

Takes time to produce results

The flip side of the long term strategy of SEO marketing is that it can take time to see results. Your website may need to be redeveloped and a content strategy executed, all of which takes some time.


Every competitor in your industry is likely to be fighting for the coveted top spots of an organic search result list. Depending on the search terms and keywords, this can drive up the difficulty and cost of good SEO.


There are many factors and complex aspects to SEO, especially in competitive industries. Using a digital marketing specialist or agency is often the preferred and most effective route for businesses without an in-house team.

Takeaway: If you’re a business looking for a long-term marketing strategy or provide a unique product/service with little competition, SEO could be right for you.

Pros of PPC


Getting results from a PPC advertising campaign is instant. When the campaign is running, the ad is one and when the campaign is over, the ad is no longer showing. That’s what makes PPC great for events or special deal promotions. 


PPC and paid traffic marketing allow you to narrow your target audience to specific groups, which can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your campaign.

Ability to fine-tune

With PPC, you control how much you spend, where your advertisement is displayed, and when you want it to run. 

Cons of PPC


PPC can be expensive. As the name indicates, you pay per click. It doesn’t matter whether that click turns into a sale or not, every click on your ad costs you money. For smaller businesses, spending less than around $5000 per month has been proven to be largely a waste of money.

Finite effectiveness

The other side of PPC’s instant results benefit is that the effect does not last longer than the ad runs. If you reduce your budget or pause your account, you’ll go backward.


In some cases, PPC marketing can be simple and easy to run, but depending on the search terms involved, the industry, and the channel, it can become rather complex—or at least complex to do well.

Takeaway: If you’re a business looking for an instant and short-term marketing push for a specific event, deal, special, or promotion, PPC may be the right choice.

Contact us for a personalised SEO vs PPC comparison 

At the end of the day, both search engine optimisation and pay per click advertising offer many advantages to businesses looking to engage in digital marketing. SEO may suit one business as a core marketing strategy, while PPC may offer a higher return on investment for a different company.

For many businesses, PPC and SEO can and should work together. Blending a short-term and long-term strategy to drive organic and paid traffic can help you capitalise on low- and highly competitive keywords, improve your visibility online, and increase the number of visitors to your website. 

Fortunately for you, you don’t have to make the call yourself. Here at GO Creative, our team of digital marketing specialists know the ins and outs of both SEO and PPC like the back of our keyboard-typing hands.

Our obligation and cost free audit will help us help you determine a digital marketing strategy that will help your business succeed in all the ways you want it to.

Contact us today about receiving a customised PPC vs SEO comparison for your business.

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