The Difference Between SEO and PPC

The Difference Between SEO & PPCWhat are SEO and PPC? The online marketing space is filled with proprietary acronyms and terminology. These can be confusing waters to navigate until you familiarize yourself with the seas and the ship.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of making your site more discoverable in search engines. PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, which is an advertising model that directs traffic to your site when your ad is clicked.

From the surface, the two strategies look very different. But this doesn’t mean they can’t work together synergistically.

Let’s explore the difference between SEO and PPC.


The days of tricking a search engine into ranking your site are coming to an end. It is what the SEO industry was initially built around, but what the search engines of today are looking for is exactly what human beings are looking for – a good experience. If it’s right for your audience, it’s good for search. (Works for both SEO and PPC).

SEO is a long-term strategy, and it can be expensive. Pay now, reap the results later. But it can also be incredibly effective. When you create the right structure for your website and publish valuable content on an ongoing basis, traffic will begin to build.

SEO is sometimes is a passive strategy, but it isn’t. The investment is significant, especially when you consider the man hours that go into creating fresh content on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Furthermore, you aren’t going to see a return on your investment for six to 12 months, or even longer, depending on your publishing schedule and the nature of the content.

And if your website isn’t mobile friendly, and is slow to load, you’re going to need to address these issues. If you don’t have anyone in-house that can handle the more technical aspects of SEO, you’ll have to outsource your SEO, and again, this isn’t going to come cheaply.

The main benefit of SEO is that it has a compounding effect over time. The content you create today can be useful to your audience virtually indefinitely.


Today’s online world is noisy. There is more content today than a single person would ever be able to consume. Paid media is fast becoming a necessity for many businesses that want to drive traffic to their site, and PPC is one of the primary methods used.

PPC is a short-term strategy, but it can cost just as much as SEO. Unlike SEO, however, you can pay now and reap the results almost immediately. But the moment you stop paying, the flow of traffic to your website stops. Therein lies PPC’s greatest weakness, which is that it has little to no long-term value.

Much like SEO, PPC is also sometimes called a passive strategy. On the surface, it may appear that way. You can set up a PPC campaign and wait for the traffic to roll in. But campaigns and landing pages often need to be tweaked and optimized for best results. SEO has long-term passive value, where PPC doesn’t.

For businesses looking to generate immediate results, PPC is a good strategy to employ. Likewise, if you don’t have the resources to commit to ongoing content creation, PPC can help your website gain lots of visibility the moment you put it to work.

SEO and PPC In Tandem

Earlier, we made reference to the fact that SEO and PPC can be complementary to each other.

For one, you can amplify content that’s getting a good amount of search traffic using PPC. It might seem redundant, but you can’t assume everyone that might be interested in your content is finding you in a search. You can increase the ROI of your content by generating even more traffic with PPC.

On the flipside, because you can A/B split test your ads, you can measure the effectiveness of different pictures and headlines, and then use those assets in your content to boost its efficacy too.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t necessarily a right and a wrong way to go about your marketing. If you want to conduct yourself in an honest, upright way, however, be aware that it will require some patience. Content creation for SEO takes time, and even if you’re using PPC, optimizing your ads and landing pages can also be an intensive process.

Are you using SEO and PPC in your marketing efforts? Have you made any discoveries about which works better for your business?

Let us know in the comments below.

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