SEO vs. PPC: The Main Differences You Should Know About!


If you've been looking into digital marketing, then you already have some idea about PPC and SEO. SEO and PPC are cornerstones of digital marketing, and you cannot think about digital marketing without these two things. 

However, even though both are parts of digital marketing, they are very different. The key difference between PPC and SEO is that SEO focuses on organic traffic. 

In contrast, PPC is paid to advertise where the ads pop up at the top and bottom of the search engine results page and on other websites. Now, as a digital marketing consultant, my day I have to deal with both SEO and PPC. 

My range of responsibilities, from working with PPC keyword research tools to describing the difference between PPC and SEO, makes me well-equipped to discuss this topic.

Hi, I am Shovon Joarder. I run a digital marketing agency with my team. We provide top-notch digital marketing services to businesses who want to get more out of less. 

We also offer white-label PPC services to other agencies. When working with my clients, I often encounter questions about both PPC and SEO. 

So, I decided to address the differences and help you understand which is better for you and how you should approach both for your business!


What's SEO?

SEO is one of the major marketing channels for businesses online. It involves gaining traffic from search engines' organic, editorial, or natural search results. 

SEO's primary purpose is to ensure websites and site pages rank high for specific niche-related queries on search engines.

What Are The Major Parts Of SEO?

SEO itself is made up of a few different parts. In the following, we will discuss the four major elements that makeup search engine optimization. The four main features are:

  • Keyword Research

  • On-page SEO

  • Off-page SEO

  • Technical SEO

Keyword Research

Keyword research is all about understanding and finding the words and phrases potential customers are looking for. You can use plenty of tools like Google Keyword Planner

You should start by brainstorming words and phrases related to your niche and then using a keyword research tool to find out what people are looking for.  

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is all about optimizing your website and content to match and answer queries from search engine users. Understanding search intent is vital for this step, so ensure you understand what your target audience is looking for before proceeding. 

Along with understanding search intent, you will need to know how to place keywords strategically, create engaging titles, make sure you have short and descriptive URLs, and ensure image optimization. 

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is about establishing the business or brand as a viable leader in the niche. It involves working away from your site to showcase that your site deserves to rank in the SERPs. 

One significant factor in getting a good off-page SEO score is building high-quality backlinks. Backlinks work as a seal of approval from other websites. Other factors, like reviews, citations, etc, go into off-page SEO.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is about making it easy for search engines to find, crawl, and index all your content. You won't rank in SERPs if search engines don't even know about your existence. 


What's PPC Advertising?

PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, is a form of online advertising in which marketers pay for each click on an ad. Search ads are the most common format of PPC ads, but social media ads also fall under this category.

What Are The Major Parts Of PPC ADS?

PPC is an essential tool in digital marketing, and it is made up of a few different aspects. PPC isn't a platform-specific tool; its main elements stay the same on almost all platforms. However, to make things simpler, we will talk about the main parts of Google Ads in the following section. So let's check it out:

  • Keyword Research

  • Setting Bids

  • Creating Ads

  • Finding The Target Audience

Keyword Research

Like SEO, PPC needs keywords. Therefore, you need to do keyword research to determine your audience's needs. Make sure you do this for your PPC campaigns.

Setting Bids

You set bids to limit the amount you are willing to pay for each click. If a competitor outbids you, you fall down the pecking order and get fewer clicks. 

Creating Ads

PPC is ad-based, meaning you need to create ads that capture audience intrigue and prompt them to engage with your ads. For Google, your ads will get a quality score. It shows how good your ads are and whether or not your audience will like the ad. 

Finding The Target Audience

Since you are creating ads, you must show them to someone, and that's where finding the right target audience comes in. Some common metrics to finding the right target audience are who they are, what they're interested in, where they are, and plenty of other metrics. 

What Are The Main Differences Between PPC & SEO?

The main difference between PPC and SEO is that one focuses on driving paid traffic, while the other works on organic content. SEO's main job is creating and promoting content that generates links and aids sites in getting to the top of SERPs. 

Also, it takes time to see results on SEO, whereas with PPC, the results come fast, and if done right, people can see even 1000% ROI from their efforts. Here is a table showing when you will need SEO and PPC:



If your goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader.

If you need leads right now.

If your goals are long-term.

If you need sales right now.

If you have a small budget.

If you have a moderately big budget.

If you want to rank high on SERPs. 

If you want to be featured in the sponsored section on SERPs. 

What Are The Pros & Cons Of PPC?

Like everything, PPC has pros and cons. It is always a balancing act to find whether something is right for you, and in the following, you will find a table listing the pros and cons of PPC to help you understand its importance!

PPC Pros

PPC Cons

Easy to reach your target audience fast. 

PPC can become a costly venture.

It's wholly data-reliant, so it's completely measurable. 

Clicks don't always lead to sales.

It's the perfect tool to boost sales.

Finding success requires a high skillset and experience in the sector.

It allows for easy experimentation to determine what works and doesn't.

It can lose its effectiveness if not constantly updated.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of SEO?

Nothing is perfect. Everything has pros and cons, and so does SEO. Here is a table of SEO pros and cons that you can check out to find out why SEO is important!

SEO Pros

SEO Cons

SEO results stay with you for a long time.

SEO takes a long time to showcase impactful results.

It raises brand awareness.

It always needs unique and authoritative content.

It's essential to establishing brand credibility.

Keywords usually have fierce competition.

It is much more cost-effective than PPC.

SEO is constantly changing. 

Pro Tip: Find The Right Balance Between SEO & PPC

Whenever I'm asked which one's better, SEO or PPC, I always say that it depends on the person asking. Now, if you are starting and want to establish your business in the niche, then you should focus most of your efforts on SEO. 

However, if you already have relative success in the niche and are focusing on ramping up lead generation and sales numbers then PPC is what you should focus on. 

SEO will always help you rank for keywords, leaving a lasting impact on your brand overall, whereas PPC will ensure you get sales. Now, I usually help my clients find the right balance between PPC and SEO because that's the secret sauce to success! 

So that's all I have for you today. Those are the main differences between PPC and SEO. Hopefully, now you know which one's right for you. 

If you feel like I missed something or want to learn more about how PPC and SEO can help you, feel free to contact me or drop them in the comments below. You can also hit me on my socials, and we can help you. 

That's about all I have for you today. I will come back soon with something new.

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