SERP showing the difference between a paid ad and an organic search result for Amazon.

SEO vs. Pay-Per-Click: Knowing the Difference and Which to Choose

If you’re new to digital marketing, you may not be sure if you should use SEO or PPC ads to boost your conversion rates. Heck, if you’re really new, just knowing the difference between SEO vs Pay-Per-Click may be a struggle.

Understanding both and knowing when and why to use them is critical to search engine marketing (SEM) success. But if you’re panicking because you don’t know how to use PPC or what these terms even mean, don’t. We can break it down to the essentials without any time-consuming jargon.

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that places your web pages higher up on the search engine results pages (SERP). The majority of SEO focuses on optimizing for Google’s search engine algorithms – which makes sense since Google gets over 3.5 billion search inquiries a day. But it can also mean optimizing for other platforms such as Bing, Amazon, and YouTube.

The goal of SEO is to appear at the top of the first page of organic search results — a.k.a. the first results after any paid ads. When using SEO as part of your digital marketing strategy, you typically do keyword research, and then design your webpage to feature as many relevant keywords as possible (in a natural way, not in a way where you’re stringing a bunch together nonsensically). This is an easy way of boosting your organic traffic.

Marketers often use content marketing in their SEO strategy so they can produce high-quality, helpful content that appeals to their target audience and drives traffic their way. It also gives them the chance to use specific keywords that the search engine algorithm likes.

But there’s more to SEO than that. There are off-page SEO techniques, such as link building and social media marketing, and technical SEO, where you make sure your website is user-friendly.

What Are Pay-Per-Click Ads (PPC)?

PPC marketing can land you at the top of the SERP — but you’re gonna pay for it. Google Ads are a PPC campaign that puts you in a sponsored position at the top of the Google search page above organic placements. You can also use them as a part of your social media marketing strategy and retargeting campaigns to reach potential customers.

PPC works by placing your ad in front of a potential customer when they search for a specific keyword. Or, it can place your social media ad in front of specific demographics. You pay a specific cost per click (CPC) for every person who visits your landing page. For paid search ads, you should still put in the research time to determine what keywords should be in your ad copy.

SEO vs. PPC: Which One’s Right For You?

So, which should you use in your digital marketing strategy? Ideally both.

But if you have a tight marketing budget, you may want to consider picking one over the other – so how do you decide? That depends on your goals.

If you need quick results, PPC advertising can get you to the top of the SERPs and in front of your target audience fast. The immediate results of increased website traffic can be tempting, especially if you’re a newer company that can’t rely on brand awareness to get your messaging out.

However, if you are on a limited budget, the CPC could make PPC ads a little difficult. SEO, on the other hand, can be very cost-effective. You can find free SEO tools online from developers like Semrush and do your own content marketing.

However, there are some cons of SEO. It’s a slow build; it takes a long time to build an online presence using SEO and finally see a boost in your click-through rate – but in the end, it gives you a greater return on investment. You just have to be patient and can’t expect overnight, short-term success.

Still Confused? Call For Help!

Hopefully, now you understand the difference between SEO vs pay-per-click and which would work best for you. But if you don’t – that’s also okay. Digital marketing success is still possible, even if words like “search queries” give you a headache.

All you have to do is call in the experts. At Lift Marketing, we can boost your online presence. We’re gurus when it comes to all things SEO and PPC – backlinks, ad copy, you name it. Give us a call today and see your click-through rates soar.