SEO vs. PPC: Which is Better? [Pros, Cons, & More]

For years, people have been debating on 🤜 SEO vs. PPC 🤛 which is better and which one give more ROI.


Which is better: paying your way to the top of search engines with a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign or growing your organic (or natural) search engine marketing approach via search engine optimization (SEO)?

Deciding where to spend your digital marketing budgets is a challenging for many business owners, and it frequently leaves individuals wondering which method is better.

Is there a correct or incorrect answer? Is it possible to have both? To make this decision, you must first go through the Pros and Cons of both SEO and PPC.

SEO and PPC (Paid Ads): Why You Should Care

The two bedrocks of digital marketing, according to many, are SEO and Paid ads or PPC. We can see why by looking at some organic and paid ads statistics.

Organic and PPC or Paid ads account for 68 percent of all website traffic in total:

  • Organic search accounts for 53% of site visitors.
  • Paid search accounts for 15% of total site visitors.

These values represent an average of all industries. (The figures vary depending on the industry.) Organic traffic accounts for 64% of B2B traffic, for example.

Paid traffic accounts for almost 24% of all traffic in eCommerce.)

Furthermore, it has been discovered that sponsored and organic search account for 72 percent of all revenue.

Perhaps we should pause for a moment to take that in.

According to research, organic and sponsored search together bring in two-thirds of all traffic.

According to research, organic and paid search account for two-thirds of all revenue. That’s a ridiculously high figure. That is why SEO and paid advertising are important.

SEO vs. PPC: What’s the core Difference?

When comparing SEO and PPC, there are two key variables to keep in mind: positioning and pricing.

While PPC advertising display above organic listings at the top of search results, you must pay for each ad click.

Organic traffic via SEO, on the other hand, is free, but your site will show behind paid ads in search results.

SEO vs. PPC: Your cheat sheet

For a quick breakdown of SEO vs. PPC, check out this table:

SEO vs. PPC Quick Pros Quick Cons
SEOFree Delivers long-term benefits Drives relevant, targeted traffic Encourages a user-friendly website

Faces ever-changing Google algorithms Requires ongoing maintenance Takes time

Offers maximum visibility in search results Delivers immediate results Offers complete control Provides flexibility
Requires a constant investment Deters some users Costs add up Comes with a learning curve
Table source webfx

What Should You Know About PPC?

In this summary of PPC’s merits, cons, and definition, learn more about PPC in the PPC vs. SEO debate:

What exactly is PPC?

You can place ads in the sponsored results part of each search engine’s results page, and you’ll be charged a fee if someone clicks on them.

Paid search is the process of paying to have your website and articles appear more popularly on search engines or their partner sites. It’s also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

The goal is to have these sponsored adverts appear at the top of the SERP. Bidding and keyword targeting are used to accomplish this.

Costs are usually incurred when they are clicked (cost-per-click or CPC) or when a large number of individuals see them (cost -per-thousand or CPM).

PPC advertising platforms are available from Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Amazon.

Pros of PPC

  • Quick to produce results
  • Useful for time-sensitive content
  • Provides more control over performance
  • Laser-focused audience targeting
  • Provides detailed analytics
  • Higher ROI short term
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Cons of Paid Search

  • More expensive short term
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Grows less effective over time
  • Can require bigger budgets

What Should You Know About SEO?

In the SEO vs. PPC argument, learn more about SEO, including its benefits, drawbacks, and definition:

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO is the method of obtaining visitors through search engines’ “free” or “natural” listings, such as Google or Bing. SEO is similar to a marathon in that it takes a long time to see the fruits of your labor.

Pros of SEO

  • Less expensive long term
  • Requires less maintenance
  • Generates consistent, sustainable traffic
  • Builds brand trust and credibility
  • Wider potential reach
  • Higher ROI long term

Cons of SEO

  • Takes longer to produce results
  • Poor for time-sensitive content
  • Provides less control over performance
  • Provides vaguer analytics

Paid advertisements display at the top of the search results page. They have a strong presence above-the-fold and are always the first thing a user sees.

On desktop, they can take up to four snippets, and on mobile, they can take up to three. Paid advertising can sometimes show at the bottom of a page, making them the last thing a user views.

Organic search results occupy the remaining ten snippet slots on a page, but users must scroll through sponsored adverts to get the top-ranking organic results.

Real Estate on SERPs: SEO vs. PPC

Organic content takes up more space than paid adverts, which appear first. Paid advertisements always appear in the same places and are limited in the amount of space they can take up on a page.

The content on organic SERPs is more flexible.

Thanks to things like FAQ schema, page snippets can expand and include additional branded information.

With rich snippets, the local Map Pack, and the Knowledge Graph, brands may leverage SEO to appear in extra parts of a results page.

All of this adds up to a lot of potential SERP real estate for brands to promote via SEO.

Cost of Positioning: SEO vs. PPC

Businesses must pay for their advertising to appear on SERPs, therefore paid search has a direct cost (via CPC or CPM). As a result, the expenses of paid search ads can easily spiral out of control.

There is no direct expense associated with SEO. Search engines provide free placement in organic results, making it a much more cost-effective technique in the long run.

Both SEO and sponsored search involve indirect expenses, of course. For example, the expenditures of creating, developing, and maintaining internet content.

KPIs for SEO vs. PPC

The following are two of the most effective key performance indicators (KPIs) for both SEO and PPC:

  • CTR stands for: click-through-rate.
  • CVR stands for: conversion rate.

According to the most recent data, the top organic search result in Google has an average CTR of 31.7 percent. (The second and third places, respectively, yield 24.7 percent and 18.6 percent.)

Google’s paid advertising have a CTR of 5% on average. Their CVR is 3.75 percent on average.

While it’s impossible to calculate an average conversion rate for SEO, it’s been estimated that organic search results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked than sponsored search advertisements, with paid search ads being 1.5 times more likely to convert.

That would give SEO a CVR of about 2.5 percent.

Which Strategy Is Most Appropriate for Your Business Objectives? SEO vs. PPC

Let’s get right to the point.

The distinctions between SEO and paid search have been discussed. It’s up to you to decide which is superior. (Spoiler alert: they’re both fantastic.)

Now we’ll get down to business and speak in words that are specific to your company.

To accomplish so, we’ve compiled a list of the most common objectives that businesses set for their digital initiatives.

We’ll compare how effectively both — SEO vs. Paid Search advertising — stacks up against each other and conclude which one you should use.

  • Goal: Instant Results Competitive Advantage: Paid Search or PPC
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Paid search is the way to go if you want to produce rapid sales.

Purchase intent might be fickle. Consumers are quick to alter their minds, so it’s critical for companies to get in front of them when they’re ready to buy.

PPC advertising is the quickest approach to reach search engine users who are ready to buy.

Implementing SEO takes time and yields excellent returns. More immediate effects are possible with PPC.

As a result, paid search is an excellent short-term solution for promoting your products and services, particularly if they are seasonal or time-sensitive.

So, if you’re looking for a quick fix, go with PPC.

  • Exposure is the aim; SEO is the edge.

The goal of increased exposure boils down to the number of people who can be reached. In this aspect, SEO outperforms sponsored search.

Not only does SEO allow you to brand more SERP real estate, but it also allows you to rank on various search engines and for multiple search queries with little extra effort or money.

To deliver sponsored advertisements in a similar way, you’ll need to establish various campaigns and ad sets across a range of channels, which costs time and money.

With SEO, you may enormously and continuously grow your total reach with a single piece of content. And, while sponsored search may have better overall targeting, nothing beats organic search.

And, while sponsored search may have greater general targeting, nothing compares to the impact SEO has on local exposure.

  • Targeting Audiences is the goal: Paid Search has an advantage.

Any marketing strategy must have a thorough understanding of your target demographic and the ability to properly target them.

SEO can target certain inquiries, but beyond that, the options are restricted. Paid search targeting tactics, on the other hand, have no limitations.

PPC advertising allows you to target your ideal customers in the most comprehensive way possible.

The sheer number of targeting options offered by PPC ad providers is mind-boggling. It’s enough to make any digital marketer guffaw.

To guarantee that your ads are displayed to the appropriate people at the right time, you can segment your audiences by:

  • Age,
  • Geographic area,
  • Gender,
  • Affinity,
  • Language,
  • Device,
  • lookalike audiences,
  • Parental status,
  • Income,
  • In-market interests,
  • Keywords,
  • Online behavior, and a variety of other criteria.
  • Credibility is the goal, and SEO is the edge.

Brands’ long-term performance is determined by their internet credibility. Repeat commerce is based on trust and goodwill.

New customers are attracted by authority and knowledge.

Advertising, especially when poorly planned, can come across as contrived and invasive. As a result, people are less likely to trust paid search adverts.

On the other side, SEO is all about establishing credibility.

EAT content is given a lot of weight by search engine algorithms.

  • Expertise,
  • Authoritativeness,
  • and Trustworthiness

Are all qualities conveyed by this type of information. A high ranking is a sign of approval for your company.

Anyone with enough cash may pay to be at the top of the PPC results, but companies must earn their way to the top of the organic results.

Users are aware of this. They frequently skip over search ads in favor of organic results.

Start with reachable, less competitive keywords to build your brand’s credibility with SEO, then work your way up to greater volume targets as your website grows.

  • Scalability is the goal; SEO is the advantage.

Scalability refers to the simplicity with which you can grow the number of impressions, traffic, and clicks, as well as customers, revenue, and profit.

When done correctly, SEO can become a significant source of all those returns over time. Because the best organic optimizations compound over time, this is the case.

Paid search, on the other hand, is a different story. In fact, the reverse is true.

PPC ads have short lifespans compared to organic content. (Typically lasting one to two months, at best, compared to several years for organic.) Their returns start to diminish after a short period of time.

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And the second you stop paying, their returns dry up completely. All this makes it impossible to cost-effectively scale your advertising.

SEO can sustain growing returns over the long term. To accomplish this, we recommend building a majority of your SEO content around evergreen content (i.e. content that will not grow outdated).

That way you ensure your content is strongly positioned to sustainably scale.

Goal: Control

Edge: Paid Search

Having control over your marketing operations is essential for accurately calculating budgets and schedules. To that end, paid search provides far more control than SEO.

Google algorithms have the final say on what ranks where with organic content. While the right SEO experts can circumnavigate Google’s algorithms to provide the best results, it still makes it more challenging to control your marketing.

Especially since SEO changes can take days, sometimes months, to effectively appear in search results.

Paid search ads, however, are unaffected by organic Google algorithm updates.

Your budget dictates performance, not Google. Once your campaign is set up, your ads will appear as you’ve written them in the placements you’ve selected.

By controlling the bid, keywords, targeting and creative, you (or a paid search expert on your behalf) determine how effective your SEM will be.

Goal: Budget

Edge: SEO

SEO typically does not require as large a budget as paid search. The right SEO agency can optimize organic strategies at minimal cost to return huge results.

To get similar numbers of visitors, revenue and profit from paid search would require a much larger budget. Especially right out of the gate.

Don’t get us wrong. PPC campaigns are incredibly effective. But they can be expensive to run, especially in competitive industries.

They also often cost much more to get started than SEO. We’ve seen instances where an SEO campaign with a $10K per month budget outperforms a paid search budget in the millions per year.

Goal: Beating the Competition

Edge: SEO and PPC

In today’s marketplace if you’re not performing multichannel marketing, you’re not competing. Your competitors are probably doing both SEO and PPC.

And if they aren’t, you have an easy opportunity to get ahead.

Here are some of the ways in which SEO and PPC can be used together to improve your marketing efforts:

  • Convert More Traffic: Drive new visitors to your website with SEO. Then remarketing to those visitors with PPC ad campaigns.
  • Get Betting Insight: Take the detailed analytics provided by PPC platforms and apply to your SEO strategy.
  • Boost Keywording Effectiveness: Use keywords from your PPC ads that generate a high CTR in your SEO title tags, headlines, and meta descriptions to boost CTR for your organic listings.

Bottom Line: To succeed in SEM, businesses need to leverage both SEO and PPC in a collaborative marketing strategy.

Conclusion: SEO and Paid Search are Both Great

So, which is better: SEO or PPC?

Neither. They’re both great.

Both SEO and paid search ads can benefit your business and provide amazing ROIs.

But ONLY if you know when to use them for maximum effect.

Ultimately, which digital marketing channel you choose and when you use it depends on your goals.

There’s a good chance you’re looking at the goals we listed above and thinking to yourself,

But all those are my goals. So if I can only choose one which should I go with?

If you’re unable to do both right away, rank your goals and start implementing the strategy that applies to the one at the top.

Then work your way down from there. That said, we recommend taking a cue from that last goal — in order to remain competitive and dominate your industry you need to effectively implement both SEO and PPC.

That’s the only way to ensure you profit from all your business goals.

Well, that and a really great support team.

Every team member at Mxblog24 is a triple-certified search engine marketing expert. Contact us to learn more about how you can benefit from a partnership with our team, and use SEO and PPC to provide the best return for your goals.

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I am an African from Ghana who loves to read and code. As a result of being on the internet, my life has changed and this blog is about my experience building an online business with free offers and motivating and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.

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