SEO VS PPC, What Are The Key Differences?

This has been a hot question in the SEO Singapore world for many years. Many experts have spoken about this topic differently and frankly speaking there is no general answer to this question. However, one thing is clear that both SEO and PPC are different methods of generating traffic and business leads.

Since both methods are used to generate leads and revenue, it becomes important for businesses to understand both terms and the difference between them. If businesses do not understand both methods well then they will not be able to choose which method is good for their business.

Hence in this article, I am going to explain what are SEO & PPC and their key differences. Based on this article you will be able to choose the right method of boosting sales.

What is SEO?

SEO is a process that utilizes various (On page & Off page) techniques to boost a website’s SERP ranks, organic traffic and online visibility.

What is PPC?

PPC (Pay Per Click) is a method where you pay for SERP ranks, traffic and online visibility. In other words, you pay search engines like Google and Bing to get more traffic.

So, that is the basic understanding of both SEO and PPC, now let’s check what are the difference between both Search Engine Optimization and Pay per Click.

SEO & PPC – Major Differences

  1. Cost

Cost is often considered the most important difference between SEO and PPC and truly it is. After all, every business has a limited amount of money to spend on marketing channels.

The cost involved with PPC and SEO is very different depending on the product, business and keywords. In general, SEO is a free way to boost the traffic and ranks while PPC is a paid method. In PPC, you have to pay for per click made by one user while in SEO there is no such cost engaged.

However, it can’t be said that SEO is completely free, SEO is a process that utilizes different techniques. To use these techniques, you need to either put your own efforts or hire a team, that team cost you. So, there is no direct cost involved with SEO when we compare it with PPC but there is an indirect cost involved for sure.

  1. Awareness

PPC campaigns can create instant awareness about your product, services or business while SEO takes times to create that awareness.

For example, if you have a new product to launch then you can simply choose some target keywords and run a PPC ad campaign on Google. After the paid campaign is live, the sponsored listing will show up to millions of users on Google (Depending on your budget).

If you do the same thing with SEO then it will take some months to let users know about your products. So, the instant awareness creation through SEO is difficult than PPC, that is one major difference between both of the methods.

  1. Branding

By utilizing SEO efforts you can increase the brand visibility to a large number of users, with PPC that is not easily possible unless you have a big budget to spend.

With SEO, you can target commercial and non-commercial queries related to your business for increased brand reach without a direct cost.

For example, if you sell mobile phones online then you can target queries like “Is XYZ brand mobile phone good?”, “Does XYZ X50i mobile phone has 4GB RAM?”, “Does XYZ phone support fast charging?” and so on.

All the above queries are non-commercial or informational that you would not want to target with PPC campaigns because there are hundreds and thousands of information queries users can come up with. You can’t target all because that would require you to spend millions of dollars.

So with SEO you can increase the brand reach for information queries but not quite with PPC because of the cost and a large number of queries.

  1. Things to Advertise

With SEO you can advertise a large number of things but not with PPC (unless you are a big business with lots of money).

For example, if you are an SEO services provider in Singapore then with PPC you can target your SEO services landing page only. With SEO you can target SEO services page as well as supporting pages such as SEO case studies, SEO guides, articles, reports and many more.

The main thing to remember that there is always a cost involved to advertise with PPC while with SEO there is no direct cost involved. Thus, SEO allows you to advertise more with less cost.

  1. Targeting

Targeting is precise and more effective with the PPC method compared to SEO. Pay per click gives you options to target your audience accurately with attributes like country, city, time of day, search keywords, device and others.

If we talk about SEO then we don’t have all these options to fine-tune the targeting of the audience. Organically anyone in the world can visit your landing pages even if you don’t want them to. Yes of course, there are ways you can stop them but still, the targeting options are limited in SEO.

  1. Speed

Creating a PPC campaign and getting results through it is faster than SEO. The reason is the instant delivery of ads to users. When you create a PPC campaign and activate it the ads start showing up instantly, so the speed of getting results becomes fast.

While in SEO you have to put efforts for months to gain results. For some commercial keywords, you may have to wait at least 6 months to see any result.

  1. Trust

Many users are aware of the paid listings of businesses, they know that the results they are being promoted by paying money. Hence, those customers many times skip the ads and check the organic listings instead.

They know that getting higher organic ranks for a webpage is much harder than running a PPC campaign. It takes a lot of efforts, revisions and improvisations to increase the quality of a webpage so that it can rank organically on top positions. But with PPC, even mediocre web pages can show up above the organic results if the ad runner has paid a huge amount for the campaign.

So, trust signal is another important difference between PPC and SEO and businesses should always consider this before choosing any marketing channel.

  1. Traffic

As we discussed earlier in this article, a business can target more pages with SEO because of the less cost. When you get good ranks for more pages then automatically you get more traffic because there are extra gates opened to let people come in.

With PPC campaign, you get limited traffic because not always you can’t target a large number of pages, if you do, the cost will increase. That simply means, there is less number of gates to let people come in.

Hence, the amount of traffic becomes another important difference between SEO and PPC. However, it is not always true that you would get less traffic with PPC. If you bid more or increase the total amount of campaign money then definitely you can get more traffic but then how many businesses can afford that, very few I believe.

  1. Agility

PPC campaigns provide more agility to your efforts and marketing investments. If you want to launch a new service or product then PPC can get you instant advice from the audience.

If you have a message to tell the people then running a PPC campaign would get you instant feedback from users. The fast speed of a PPC campaign allows a business to receive important opinions of users.

While the same thing you want to do with SEO then you have to wait for a longer period of time. The agility with Search Engine Optimization is slow compared to PPC.

  1. Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment is a key factor that every business wants to think of when selecting between PPC and SEO. Now, there is no general answer to this question because ROI depends on many other factors like how you bid on PPC keywords, the quality of your services and products, landing pages, and more.

If we talk about ROI from SEO perspective then also it depends on the quality of backlinks, quality of content, inbound marketing strategies applied and many more other things.

After all this, it can be concluded that SEO provides better ROI than PPC in the long run. Of course, SEO takes time to bring results but it also consumes less money compared to PPC.

  1. Prolonged Search Results

Another big difference between PPC and SEO is the stability of results Search results with SEO stays higher for the longer period of time while PPC doesn’t offer that.

For example, you set a PPC campaign and activate it then it will continue to show up until the amount is exhausted in your PPC account. So the day money runs out, the campaign stops and your ads stop showing up.

To some level, it is true with SEO as well but the effect of stopped work starts to show up quite late. The day you stop working on SEO wouldn’t affect the SEO results instantly. Therefore, we can say that SEO results stay for long compared to PPC.

  1. Click Through Rate (CTR)

Since people are aware of the paid ads these days they many times avoid clicking on sponsored listings. They know that someone has paid Google to show his business on top positions despite being a mediocre service provider.

For this reason, people skip the paid listing and click on the organic listing. They show trust in the organic listing because they know that it is hard to get top organic ranks for a website.

The result of this high trust leads to higher CTR for organic listings compared to paid listings.

  1. Keyword Data Collection

Another way PPC and SEO can be differentiated with each other is the ability of data collection. Organic way of marketing mostly hides the data especially the keywords. You may have seen your Google Analytics showing ‘not provided’ when you look for keywords. So with this type of marketing, you don’t get the idea of which keywords are worth to target and which keywords are not.

While PPC doesn’t have this restriction, the strong integration of Google Adwords (The Google tool through which you run PPC campaigns) and Google Analytics provides you the rich keyword data. By the help of this keyword data, you can check which keywords are converting customers, which keywords are most valuable, what is the bid amount you should set for each keyword and what keywords you should stop targeting. All this valuable information you can get through PPC whereas SEO can never give you this data.

  1. A/B Testing

Often times when you test two versions of ads or pages, you want the results quickly so that you can reach on a conclusion and formulate a plan. PPC campaigns provide you that ability as setting up split ads is easy with the sponsored listing. Since the delivery of ads is fast with PPC the pace of results is also fast and so you can get the data of A/B test very fast.

Whereas SEO takes time to show you the actual result of A/B test. You may receive instant data of split test but you will not be able to make a decision with that data. You need a large amount of data to figure out the success of the split test.

  1. Stability

PPC ads don’t get affected by Google algorithm changes in most of the cases. There are rules of Adwords campaigns but the impact is lower so your campaign gets least affected.

But SEO organic listings are frequently affected by Google algorithm changes, so if you don’t put high-quality efforts into SEO then the stability of organic listings would face troubles.

Final Word

SEO and PPC have many differences as you could see in this article, which one is best depends on your business and products/services.


About the Author:

My name is Wynn Zhou - SEO expert in Singapore, and I’m the founder & Director here at Digital M which provide digital marketing and SEO in Singapore. I’ll be getting my 10 years of digital marketing experience, I am personally focussed on getting your business to the top of Google so you can enjoy the growth of up to 295% year on year like my other clients.
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