Back to Basics – SEO vs PPC, What’s Best for a New Business?


When you’re just starting out with your online business, you’re probably wondering how to properly advertise and get the word out. With a little bit of research, you’ll stumble upon two terms: SEO and PPC. What do they mean? How can they help your business?

This article will help you understand the differences between SEO and PPC, when should you use them, and which one will best suit your business.

First, their definitions, and how they’ll work to help you advertise your business online.

The Main Difference Between SEO and PPC

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, while PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. Both are legitimate Search Engine Marketing (SEM) tools used by digital marketers to increase a website’s ranking or visibility on a search query. The difference is that the traffic that comes from SEO is considered to be organic while the traffic that comes from PPC is not.

How Does That Work?

Let’s first tackle traffic generated by SEO. When done properly, SEO helps a page rank high on any search engine result. When pages have a high ranking on a search result, people are more likely to click on that page, thus leading to the idea of the traffic being “organic.”

On the other hand, PPC traffic is not seen as organic because you have to pay for your page to land on the first page to encourage people to click on your link. Since your paid for the position, the traffic is considered to be “inorganic”.

Is SEO Free, Since PPC is Paid?

You might think that since the traffic generated by these two marketing tools are opposites, then SEO should be “free” since PPC is “paid”. There are some websites out there that call SEO a “free” way to market your business, but it’s simply not true.

The main backbone of SEO is high-quality, relevant content. The more good content you have on your website, the stronger your SEO ranking. However, any digital marketer worth their salt will tell you that high-quality content is neither cheap or quick to do! If you’re not a good writer or you don’t have a digital marketing background, you’ll probably end up having to hire an experienced copywriter to create your content. Factor in the research for which keywords to use, proofreading, and editing of the content, and you’re already looking at considerable costs in terms of time and money.

What About Traffic Potential?

When it comes to traffic potential, SEO and PPC have their own pros and cons.
If you want to use SEO to boost your page’s rankings (for example, if you don’t have the budget for a PPC campaign), you need to make sure that you have a very strong SEO campaign in place. If you are able to place your website in the front page AND in the top 5 search results, you can expect a continuous flow of traffic to your page. All without you paying anything for the steady flow. That’s the main pro of using an SEO campaign.

However, the main con of that is that it can be very difficult to get to the top of a search ranking organically, especially if you try to do it on your own.
This is where PPC can come in.

Using a PPC campaign can immediately slingshot you to the top of a search engine result without any effort from your part, aside from you shelling out a bigger amount of money. However, the longer you want to stay on top of the search engine rankings to get traffic, the more you have to pay.

Okay, How About Conversion?

This is the most important part of any marketing campaign: the conversion rate. Simply put, the amount of traffic to your website doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t have a direct conversion rate!
Now the question is, which method between SEO and PPC is more likely to produce a visitor that will convert?

The answer to this one is simple: a highly-targeted PPC campaign is more likely to produce a better conversion rate.

When you use SEO, the website can rank high on different search queries, and not just the search query that you intend. This means that a visitor to your page might not be necessarily interested in your particular product or service.

On the other hand, a PPC campaign will appear directly to people who are actively searching for your particular query, leading to a higher chance of them purchasing your product or service. Thus, the better conversion rate.

However, there is one thing that you need to be careful of when it comes to using a PPC campaign: click fraud. Click fraud is when people (usually competitors) click on your ads repeatedly to increase your costs. It might look like good traffic, but there’s no conversion at all! You can use online tools such as Clickcease to help prevent click fraud from eating into your bottom line.

Which Should I Use?

Most, if not all, successful marketing campaigns online actually use both SEO and PPC as part of their marketing tools. However, it’s not always possible or practical to avail of both services.

If you have financial constraints, the best thing for you to do is to begin with a PPC campaign. This step allows you to see which keywords are frequently searched in your particular niche. Once you have the keywords, you can start building a strong SEO campaign around those keywords in order to start generating organic traffic and lower your costs over time.