SEO vs PPC: Where should you invest?


SEO vs PPC: When you hear the word budget, what’s the first word that comes to your mind? If it’s constraint, then this article would be of great interest to you.

Did you know over 55% of small businesses invest in SEO while less than 45% invest in PPC? Check this report by clutch to learn more.

Today, any business that is not online, barely qualifies as business. For any service or product one might want to access, people lookup the sellers on Google. They make the decision based on the search results shown on the first page of Google.

Google shows two types of results on the first page – Organic Results and Paid results. And that’s where the battle starts. Let’s get into the midst.

What are Organic and Paid Search Results?

When a searcher looks up something on Google, they type something into Google’s search bar. The something is termed as a search query or a keyword. Based on the keyword, Google checks all the web-pages under it’s listing and presents some of them on the first page of Google.

Organic Search Results

Organic results are those web-pages that Google trusts. The website has the content that Google believes can help the searcher with their requirement. Google presents 10 organic results per page. However, this number keeps decreasing.

Paid Search Results

Paid results are the advertisements that appear for a search term. These results are shown because the owner of the web-page has paid Google to show their business for that search term. Google shows 3 paid search results on mobile and 4 on desktop.

Here’s an example, suppose you look up wooden flooring. You type in Google the keyword – Wooden Flooring”.

This is what the organic search results would look like:

The paid search looks like this:

Wherever you see ‘Ad’ or ‘sponsored’, is a paid search result.

You appear in organic search results due to your SEO efforts. You appear in paid search because you pay Google to show your website for a keyword (PPC).

Now that you are clear in what SEO and PPC does for you and how they differ, you might be wondering where to invest. Let’s dive into the meaty part of this blog.

SEO vs PPC: Let’s jump into it

Since we are weighing the benefits of SEO and PPC, lets dive in and see how each tactic ranks over the other. Let’s first see how PPC ranks over SEO.

SEO vs PPC: Where PPC beats SEO

Paid search results:

Appear above organic search. Any searcher will have to scroll past the paid search results before they reach the organic search results.

Highly focused. You can choose your target audience at a very granular level. For instance, if you are a new cola brand, you may choose to be seen only by searchers who are 18-25 years old, having a specific family income, between 6PM and 10 PM and so on. Organic Search is shown to everyone who searches with your brand name.

Deliver quicker results. You can create a PPC campaign in a day and have your ads running on Google. SEO takes months to show results.

Stable. They are not subject to change in Google algorithm, or Google’s definition of a good page. The Ads will keep showing as long as you pay Google. Organic search results vary with time. However, good quality pages usually need minor tweaks to bring them back to Page #1.

SEO vs PPC: Where SEO beats PPC

Branding. When a searcher looks up a keyword, they see the pages on the 1st page of google. When those pages keep appearing over and again, the searcher registers the website’s name in their mind. The brand image helps the website owner attract repeat customer. With PPC, the brand image is not developed as the website shows up only because it is an Ad.

Click Through Rate (CTR). When the searchers see the website often, they eventually click it to see if the website provides the services or products they are looking for. As per the report by smartinsights, top 10 Google results get 66% of all the traffic. A higher placed organic result fetches more clicks than a PPC ad.

Cost. SEO doesn’t charge by the click. It’s more cost effective than PPC as per the blog by Ahrefs. In addition, PPC has bid wars which result in high bid rate which make them more expensive.

Robust. A top-ranking website can’t be replaced easily. SEO is a time-consuming and ever evolving process. It takes months to rank up a website. When it comes to PPC, it’s easy for competitor to see which keywords your website is ranking for, this will be easy for them to copy.

Conversion Rate. Google is very picky about the websites it shows in organic search results. It needs to ensure only best quality material is made available to searchers or they might lose them to another search engine. Thus, if you become the relevant website that Google trusts, then you will not just rank high on Google but also receive huge traffic to your website that is also relevant to your business. That means a bigger part of your visitors will turn into buyers compared to Paid search.

Return on Investment (RoI). Since you are getting highly relevant traffic, you convert more leads and thus a higher income. Compared to PPC, you are making a higher income at a lower cost, thus a much better Return on Investment. See benefits of SEO for small businesses.


SEO and PPC both have their own qualities and drawbacks. They fill each other’s shortcomings. 

It’s akin to riding a motorbike on a gaming platform. You may use the engine thrust on a regular basis, but you need nitrous boost to push you through the finish line. Engine thrust is SEO, while nitrous boost is Google Ads.

The decision on where to invest more is subject to many factors specific to your business.

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