What is the difference between SEO and PPC?

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The main difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) is that traffic coming from SEO (organic) is free while traffic generated by PPC is not free (as the name implies). , you must pay a cost per click) .

This is also why you can sometimes see the terms organic search engine listings and paid search engine listings (or paid search advertising – PSA).

Both SEO and PPC are part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which is one of the tools you can use as part of your overall internet marketing campaign.

I’ll try to explain the other main differences between the two using the following parameters: search results position, cost, traffic potential, conversion, and ease of use.


Organic traffic vs. paid search advertising

Position in search results

As you can see in the screenshot above, you can expect to find PPC ads above and below the organic results.

Where exactly your ad will appear depends on a number of factors (i.e. the keywords you’re targeting, keywords in your ad text, keywords on your landing page, and many more) , but is above or below the organic results.

Organic results can only appear in the middle of the page. Whether your listing will appear in the top positions or on the first pages depends on how optimized your website is in terms of on-site and off-site SEO.

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  • SEO: You can get first page positions if your website is optimized for search engines
  • PPP– You can get your ad on the first page by paying a higher cost per click (CPC)


I mentioned earlier that SEO traffic is free and PPC is paid and while this is absolutely true, you must understand that it takes a lot of effort and hard work to get free traffic from search engines.

Competition is high for almost every keyword you can search for and you really need to have a high-quality website and a great SEO plan to get a top 5 ranking.

There are no shortcuts despite what some “SEO” companies try to sell you. If you are not familiar with how search engines work or you don’t know anything about SEO, then the best way to get search engine traffic is to hire a seo expert to do the work for you.

On the other hand, the cost of pay per click depends on a number of other factors.

If we take for example the cost per click of advertising with the most popular PPC system, Google Ads, then it depends on the popularity of the keyword, the number of advertisers who want to use that particular keyword, the number of related websites to have ad positions for the particular keyword and many more.

If it sounds a bit complicated, it probably is, despite efforts by Google to make the entire system easier to use.

The good news with PPC is that you only pay for clicks on your ad and not for views.

Also, you can determine your daily budget in advance and pay no more than that and can calculate an estimate of what the average cost per click is for the keywords you want to target.

As you can see in the screenshot below the Google keyword tool (which is part of Google Ads) gives you an estimate of the CPC (cost per click) for each keyword.

Cost Per Click - Google Keyword ToolGoogle Keyword Planner Results

  • SEO: The cost of SEO is indirect. You can’t pay to get on the first page, but you may have to pay for SEO services if you can’t do it yourself.
  • PPP: You only pay when people click on your ad. You can use the Google keyword tool to calculate how much you can pay.

traffic potential

Which method can bring more traffic to your website, SEO or PPC?

SEO (organic traffic) can get you more traffic than PPC, so if you can rank for your website for the keywords you want, you’ll get a lot more traffic than paying for those keywords.

This is because when your website appears in one of the top 5 positions (according to statistics, most search traffic visits one of the top 5 websites) you can expect to have a continuous stream of traffic 24 hours a day. , 7 days a week without having to pay anything. (actual volume of traffic depends on how popular a keyword is).

So if you compare the traffic and cost of first page positions for SEO traffic and PPC traffic, organic traffic is better. There are some studies that suggest that PPC ads get more clicks than organic ones, but this also translates into a higher cost.

If, on the other hand, it’s very difficult to get first page positions for a keyword, then paying for traffic may be your only option, as second and third page positions will likely bring 0 or very little traffic.

  • SEO: Organic traffic is continuous as long as you are in one of the top positions.
  • PPP: PPC ads may get more clicks, but this means you pay more.


Which visitor is most likely to convert (ie make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, and generally respond to a call to action), someone from PPC ads or organic search?

If your ads are highly targeted and optimized, a PPC visitor is more likely to convert than a search visitor.

The reason is that a web page may rank for different keywords (besides the ones initially intended), so the search visitor may not be looking for exactly the content (or product) featured on the particular page.

On the other hand, if you run a successful PPC campaign, you will only get clicks from visitors who are 100% interested in your content or products.

  • SEO: SEO traffic is better than other forms of traffic (ie social media), but in terms of conversion it is not as good as PPC traffic.
  • PPP: Highly Optimized Keywords Will Drive More Conversions But Cost More

Easy to use

Neither SEO nor PPC are easy to do if you don’t have the necessary knowledge and experience.

SEO is a process that requires a lot of time and effort. It can take months or even years to rank for specific terms or not rank at all!

If you’re new to SEO, take a look at our comprehensive SEO Tutorial to get an idea of ​​what SEO is all about.

On the other hand, to get good results with PPC and Adwords, you need to take a course or hire a PPC expert to help you out or you’ll lose a few hundred dollars before you understand how it works.

The bottom line: PPC first, then SEO

The bottom line is that you need to use both PPC and SEO as part of your Internet marketing campaign.

PPC can give you faster results so you can run a PPC campaign and test which keywords convert best and then try SEO to rank for those keywords.

Use PPC when you have a high converting product and use SEO when you have a limited budget to spend on advertising.

SEO can take time, but the results are (under some conditions) long-lasting, whereas with PPC when you stop paying for clicks, your traffic stops too.

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