SEO Vs PPC: Enemies or Allies?

CATEGORY: Branding | Communication | Content Marketing | Digital Marketing | Marketing | Strategy

SEO and PPC are digital marketing concepts used in driving traffic to a webpage. Although quite distinct, they serve similar functions. 

In this post, we will attempt to establish the relationship between them and inform you whether to adopt both or how to employ each in your digital marketing strategy. Before that, let’s shed some light on what SEO and PPC represent.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is positioning your website and web pages to be visible, relevant and popular in user search queries. This practice results in search engines ranking your page higher in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

What is PPC?

Pay Per Click (PPC) is a digital advertising model where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. The ad typically leads users to a website or landing page. PPC ads are deployed on search engine result pages, websites, social media and other digital platforms.


The purpose of SEO and PPC advertising is the same – to gain online visibility and drive traffic to a website. However, they are distinguished by how they go about it.

Elements of an SEO Strategy

  • Technical SEO
  • Content
  • On-Page SEO
  • Off-Page SEO

Technical SEO

This refers to all the steps in designing and developing the website so that search engines can properly scan and index pages. It includes factors such as site navigation, URL structure, site speed, security and map, content uniqueness and Content Management System (CMS).


Content is referred to as the king and sits on the prized throne for SEO. As search engines and research prove, a content-led SEO strategy is the most cost-effective way to reach an online audience. It comes in different formats: text, video, images, and audio. Adopting content for your SEO strategy involves keyword research, audience research, content creation, promotion, and distribution.

On-page SEO

This intersects with technical SEO. It involves optimising the “back end” of a website. On-page SEO involves optimising web pages for a seamless experience and improving the page position in SERPs. It involves factors such as optimised metadata, keyword, heading tags, images, and information architecture.

Off-page SEO

This refers to building authority for your website through external links. Your web page must have sufficient relevance and authority to rank high on search engines. Other elements of your SEO strategy give your site relevance. However, off-page SEO throws its weight behind building popularity and authority. This is usually calculated by the quality and quality of links that point to your web page. It involves earning quality backlinks, promoting on social media platforms and local SEO such as Google My Business.

Elements of a PPC Strategy

  • Tools
  • Advert
  • Destination
  • Analytics

The Tools

This refers to the different channels you adopt for your PPC ad campaign. They include search engine ads, display ads, social media ads, native advertising and video advertising. To select the right tool, you need to understand your audience, what they want, how they spend their time online and how they interact with content.

The Advert

Every ad created targets a set of keywords grouped with a specific theme. The copy should reflect your audience’s thoughts and have a clear Call-to-Action (CTA). The more straight to the point your ad, the better the chances of a converting click.

The Destination

The landing page is an equally important component of your PPC campaign. It determines whether the user who clicked your ad will follow through with taking the intended action. Therefore, it needs to be properly targeted, in sync with your ad, and provide the promised information while maintaining a seamless user experience. You need a solid headline, clean design and layout, ample responsiveness and relevant copy to achieve this.


The work does not end with you setting up your ad and hitting publish. You still need to monitor the performance and make adjustments where necessary. You can make the most of your PPC campaign by closely monitoring your ads through analytics.


The primary difference between SEO and PPC is that SEO channels organic traffic (free traffic) to your website by building relevance and authority through valuable content. On the other hand, PPC is a form of driving traffic by paying publishers to place your ad at the top and bottom of SERPs or display ads on other platforms.

Advantages of SEO over PPC

  • SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to drive traffic to your website. It costs time but saves money for many businesses.
  • SEO builds authority and credibility for brands
  • It is a long-term strategy that keeps driving constant traffic

Advantages of PPC over SEO

  • PPC ads are positioned at prime spots (above SEO content) on SERPs.
  • They provide visibility even with competitors jostling for search engine rankings.
  • PPC ads drive traffic fast, while SEO takes a long time to generate significant ROI
  • Search engines allow PPC ads more display features than organic search. For instance, you can set up a carousel of your product images for a pleasant shopping experience right from the search engine result page.
  • PPC allows you to target your audience, and with its laser-focused targeting, you can improve clicks and conversions.

Between SEO and PPC, Which is Better?

SEO and PPC are just as good as each other. Deciding which to use should depend on the situation.

If you can find a lowly competed keyword that is highly relevant to you and you can develop an SEO strategy as a cost-effective way to improve your visibility and drive traffic, by all means, work with SEO. However, if you find it difficult to outrank your competitors in search engine results and can afford it, you can one-up them with PPC ads.

Specific Cases to Use SEO

  • You want to build authority and presence for your brand.
  • You want constant traffic over a long time.

Specific Cases to Use PPC

  • You have a time-bound offer or event.
  • You are releasing a new product that nobody is searching for.
  • You want to get clicks to a landing page or promote commercial content.

Should SEO and PPC Work Together?

SEO and PPC are different ways to achieve the same result – to drive traffic. However, they work best when integrated into your digital marketing strategy.

SEO works best when planning for the long term. PPC works best with short-term goals. When used in consonance with each other, they can shoot visibility and click-through rate to the moon.

What Happens When You Use SEO and PPC Together?

  • Data from PPC campaigns can inform the content you create and help you achieve top-page rank.
  • Keywords with high cost and volume but low conversion can be tested in organic content.
  • Optimising a page for a specific keyword and purchasing PPC ads for that keyword can help you dominate the first page on SERP and get maximum clicks.
  • You can improve conversion through retargeting. For instance, you can buy ad spaces on other websites to display products from your customers’ abandoned carts.
  • PPC and SEO working together will give you better data and insights to improve your marketing strategy.


SEO and PPC should not be seen as enemies but as different sides of the same coin. They work with their unique elements in different ways to help you achieve your business goals. You can use one without the other, but what’s the fun of doing so when you can win long-term and short-term by using both?