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PPC vs SEO – What should you use?

When you’re starting out in digital marketing, you’ll want to think about the best way to promote your business and get the most sales. You’ll commonly hear the terms ‘PPC’ and ‘SEO’. 

But what exactly are PPC and SEO, and what one should you use to promote your business? 

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation. This involves optimising the content on your website in order to improve your rankings on search engines. 

SEO is not a form of advertising – you don’t pay to increase your rankings. Instead, you have to learn about the search engine’s algorithm and what qualities it rewards and penalises. Once you can figure out what the algorithm will reward, you will be able to optimise your website to be able to increase your rankings.

When you type in a phrase on a search engine, you will notice the results page will have a list of websites that relate to the term you searched. These are known as organic search results. Your aim is to be as close to the top of the page as possible, after all, how many times have you clicked on to the second page of your search results?

There are numerous pros and cons to undertaking SEO to gain more traffic and customers. 



Are you limited by budget? Unlike advertising, SEO doesn’t have to break the budget. You will have to factor in how many people you are hiring to undertake your SEO activity. Are you hiring an agency, hiring in-house staff, or doing all the work yourself? 

However, once you factor in the cost of paying staff salaries, there is very little cost associated with SEO activities. In some instances, you would have to pay thousands of dollars in advertising to achieve the same results as SEO does. 


When you are undertaking paid advertising, you simply have to reduce your budget or cut off your budget altogether to stop seeing results. It’s instant, you don’t need to wait for the traffic to slowly stop coming through to your website from ads. 

SEO is different. Once you start ranking well, you’ll generally be able to maintain this position. It won’t just suddenly drop off. If you’re wanting to go on a short holiday, you can leave your website and know your rankings will be maintained. Paid advertising, or even social media, will require more maintenance and continual funds. If you miss a payment and your advertising is paused, your traffic will stop. 



Unlike digital advertising, you won’t see the results of your SEO work overnight. SEO can take months or even years to fully see the results. 

In 2017, Ahrefs selected two million randomly selected pages and tracked what keyword they were ranked for. Ahrefs found only 5.7% of pages ranked in the top 10 for at least one keyword within a year of publishing. For those sites that did rank in the top 10, it took about two to six months to achieve that position.

If you have noticed companies promise that you’ll get to number one on Google within a certain timeframe, be very cautious. Some people will undertake SEO practices which are against Google’s guidelines. This is known as black hat SEO. This type of activity can result in you receiving a penalty, which could see your site’s rankings lowered, or your site may be removed from the search results altogether. If you or an external team are undertaking SEO activities, make sure it is whitehat SEO and in line with Google’s guidelines. 


SEO isn’t really something you can fully understand overnight. Most people can quickly understand the basics, however, if you want your business to achieve the best results, chances are you’ll need to hire someone with more experience in the industry. 

To improve your ranking, SEO requires well written, authoritative content, along with a website which delivers a positive user experience. This means you will need someone who has a good understanding of SEO, who is able to write authoritative content, and who is able to develop, design and maintain a website for your business. 

Want to focus on the ins and outs of your business, and not spend time fixing code on your website? You may wish to hire an expert. While this means you will have a website that follows Google’s guidelines, you will have to consider the cost of this. 


Now you know what SEO is – what is PPC?

PPC stands for paid per click. This is a type of online advertising which, as the name implies, charges each time a person clicks on the ad. One of the biggest platforms for PPC is Google Ads. However, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also have options for PPC advertising. 

So what are the pros and cons of undertaking PPC? 


Achieve results fast

SEO can take months to see the results you want. PPC, however, can start to achieve results right away. 

As soon as you publish your ad campaign, people will be able to see your ad and click through to your website. 

If you’re needing to increase sales of your product or service quickly, PPC is the option for you. 

Specific targeting

Do you have a product or service that only a certain group of people will be interested in? PPC allows you to choose who will see your ad. You can select demographics such as age, physical location, gender, interests and more. This means your ad won’t be seen by people who aren’t interested in your product. Limiting your ad to the people who are interested in your product means you won’t waste your money on people just browsing; people will be more likely to purchase your item. 



PPC doesn’t necessarily need to be overly expensive, however, in comparison to SEO it is. 

PPC allows you to choose your budget for clicks, budget per day and budget for the whole campaign. When considering this, your PPC campaign can be relatively cheap.

However, the cost will vary depending on which industry you are in. Some industries will charge more per click than others. If you have set a budget of $10 per day, but each keyword costs $40 per click, you’ll find you won’t see any results. 

Consider how much you’re going to have to pay per click versus the price of the products you’re trying to sell. Is the cost per click more than the cost of your product? If so, a PPC campaign may not be a good value for money. 

Long-term effectiveness

How many times have you briefly seen an ad on Google or social media, and kept on scrolling because you’ve seen it before and you’re not interested? 

Over time, your ad will become less effective, as people would have already seen them. This is especially true if you have narrow targeting. 

Make sure to keep optimising your ads – change the images and update the copy to ensure your ad stays fresh and can maintain interest. 

So what should you use – SEO or PPC?

Now you know what SEO and PPC are, what one should you use to advertise your business? 

The answer is – it depends. If you are selling a product or service that needs to make sales quickly, PPC is your go-to. PPC will also be useful if you are a newer business and you’re trying to raise awareness. People won’t know to search for your new brand, they will need to see it advertised to know it exists. If you need to target a specific audience, you may also want to consider PPC.

While SEO may take longer to achieve the desired results, it is one of the most vital parts of any digital marketing campaign. This is how people will see your website on search engines, and unlike PPC, it won’t cost a huge amount of money. 

For the best results, you should consider undertaking both SEO and PPC. Start undertaking SEO activity as soon as possible in order to increase traffic to your website and establish more authority. While you undertake your SEO activity, start a PPC campaign to raise brand awareness and increase the chance of conversions. This will give you the best chance of achieving your business’ goals. 

Do you need help with SEO or PPC? Contact Patch Agency’s SEO and PPC specialists today.

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