SEO vs PPC

By Noah Britton on 14 November 2021

It’s one of the most common questions we’re asked about digital marketing: what’s the difference between SEO and PPC? The translation of these acronyms is not common knowledge for someone outside the industry. However, if you are branching out into the online marketing sphere to grow your business, it’s important to know that different pathways are available, each with its own benefits and risks.

SEO and PPC are two forms of digital marketing with some significant differences, and if you’re considering either, it’s vital that you understand which will best suit your needs.

This blog is a beginner’s guide to SEO and PPC, outlining the pros and cons of each. If you’re ready to start crafting a tailored digital marketing plan for your company, reach out to Thrive Design today for some personalized advice.

Your Guide to PPC

What is PPC? Is Google Ads the Same Thing?

When you search up anything on Google, you’re brought to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Here’s where you find all the recommended websites, blogs, and businesses that best match what you’ve searched – however, at the very top of the search page, you may notice a few links marked as Ads. This is PPC in action, which stands for Pay Per Click. And on a Google SERP, this is called Google Ads.

Google Ads is a form of PPC because you pay for each time a searcher clicks on your Ad. Instead of navigating the algorithms and ranking systems of search engines, you’re able to give your business the benefit of skipping the competitive organic rankings, and you simply pay for all the clicks you receive in return.

The term ‘PPC’ also covers other digital ads where clicks are paid, including sponsored social media ads on Facebook or Instagram or pop-ups on similar websites.

How Does Google Ads Work?

The cost you pay per click (CPC= cost-per-click) on Google Ads is determined by an auction-style process. The more competitive a keyword is, the more you’ll have to pay. Why? Because there are only limited spots available, and not everyone can be on top!

The cost of a keyword depends on various factors, such as its search volume (how many users are searching for that keyword on Google each month) and competition. As of January 2021, these were the top three most expensive keywords on Google Ads in the US:

  1. ‘Offshore accident lawyer’ – Average CPC of $815!
  2. ‘Best motorcycle accident lawyer’ – Average CPC of $770.
  3. ‘18 wheeler accident lawyer San Antonio’- Average CPC of $670.

But don’t let these prices scare you! Because the average CPC in 2021 ranged from $1 to $2. This is why professional Google Ads management is so important. If you structure your campaign poorly, you could spend your budget very quickly without a very high return on investment. A Google Ads specialist will ensure you have correctly set up your campaign to maximize performance and return on your investment, so you spend less and get more!

What are the Pros of Google Ads?

The greatest perk of PPC is that you will see results with a lightning-fast turnaround. You could sign up for Google Ads today and see your business listed in a matter of a couple of hours! Plus, PPC is a sure-fire way to ensure that your website will list right at the top of the SERP – giving you the quickest chance to catch a potential customer’s eye. If you’re looking to see your site jump to the top of the search results immediately, PPC is the way to go.

What are the Cons of PPC?

Here’s the downside: PPC is exactly what it says on the tin. While arguably less complicated than SEO marketing, it is the more expensive option as it requires continual financial input to generate results. Once your budget has been exhausted, you will no longer appear- meaning that potential leads may be lost to one of your competitors.

Of course, the flip side to this is that Google Ads and PPC marketing can be managed so that your campaign is only live when you need it. This is particularly helpful for seasonal businesses or companies that want to promote an offer, launch, or event.

Your Guide to SEO

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and essentially refers to the way you can organically promote your business to rank higher on the SERP. Anytime you’ve searched anything up online, you’ve been engaging with SEO – those first few non-Ad links you see when you type anything in are there because of their SEO. Unlike PPC and the websites presented due to ad programs, these sites are identified by search engines as having the ideal content the user is seeking.

What are the Pros of SEO?

The biggest benefit of SEO is simply that you aren’t paying for your exposure outright! You aren’t paying for clicks, and you aren’t paying to have your site listed at the top of the SERP. By investing the time into optimizing your page through regular new content, key phrases, and maximizing engagement, you provide yourself the opportunity to gain organic traffic without having to spend a fortune.

What are the Cons of SEO?

It has to be said, making use of SEO can be harder work. You won’t see the same sort of instant payoff that PPC provides, and it may take some time to reap the rewards of your SEO marketing plan. It can take trial and error to figure out what is best going to optimize your page to rank highly for search engines, and you may find that it’s a slow climb for your site to climb up the rankings place by place.

Important SEO Considerations

SEO is a complex and highly strategic process that should be handled by a specialist. While there are some simple things that business owners can do to enhance their SEO, if you want impressive results, then it’s best to leave this task to a professional.

What’s Right for my Business? SEO or PPC?

If you only take one thing away from this article, we hope it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing. SEO and PPC are both highly effective marketing strategies that can help you to achieve your business goals. And there is no ‘better’ approach – it truly depends on your industry and unique needs.

Another important point is that a combination of both strategies can sometimes be the best way to go! When used in conjunction, SEO and PPC can be a powerful way to accelerate your digital success. The best way to see which marketing approach is right for you is to contact us and have a consultation with a member of the Thrive Design team.

Looking for Help with Your Web Design, Branding, or Marketing?

Nowadays, digital marketing is more important than ever. As the online world becomes a staple part of every different industry and business, it’s important that you take the time to ensure you’re getting the most out of digital advertising as possible. But it isn’t easy to know where to start. If you’re looking to engage with PPC, SEO, or want to find out exactly what route of digital marketing will work best for your company, you don’t have to do it alone.

At Thrive Design, we’re ready to step in and help you expand your business into online marketing. Reach out today to find out how we can help you out and receive a quote.

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Noah Britton

Hi, I'm Noah Britton, the founder of Thrive. I have 19 years experience running my own website agency, 11 of those years with WordPress. This post may contain affiliate links that give me a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase a recommended product.