The Epic Battle Between SEO and PPC-Which Side Should You Choose?

Digital marketing domain is entirely hogged by two classes, the Search Engine Optimization Domain and the Paid Per Click services. It will be wrong to assume that any one of these digital marketing strategies is better than the other. For the most success, experts advise using PPC and SEO in combination to ensure that you are getting the most out of the investments you make.

At Tripping Vibe Digital, we understand how important finance is for businesses. To get the best value for your money, you need to make an informed decision. Instead of focusing on methods and strategies that will bring traffic to your website simply for the sake of numbers, you need to concentrate on bringing high-quality traffic to your website.

Now both SEO and PPC offer viable solutions to drive high-quality traffic to your website but the mechanism of both is entirely different. They vary a lot in terms of money and time investment required and the duration it needs to get results.

Fortunately, SEO and PPC are measurable digital marketing strategies. This is why you do not have to just rely on hearsay, instead look at the statistics. We keep a close eye on the changing trends of SEO and PPC, and here’s what the trend last year tells us:

SEO Trend in the Year 2018:

Almost 90% of the Internet traffic starts with a query on a search engine

Approximately 60% businesses in the digital marketing realm use SEO as an inbound marketing strategy

More than 89% online marketers believe that SEO brings results

More than 70% B2B marketers rely on search engines for their research

Over 78% of local mobile searches result in an offline purchase

29% of all mobile searches include a location in the inquiry

Google alone handles over 100 million searches per month

Around 68% clicked search results are from organic traffic

52% of customers who perform online searches visit local stores within 24 hours

If you follow the stats above, you will understand that SEO is a sustainable marketing strategy that leads to long term results. You reap the benefits of investing in SEO for a long time.

Now let’s take a look at the PPC trends.

PPC Trends in the Year 2018:

PPC visitors make 50% more purchases than organic visitors

65% of people with intent to buy click on ads

On average businesses earn $3 for each $1.6 invested in AdWords

65% of high intend searches from the users result in an ad click

Over 30% companies selling products to customers use PPC

80% companies use AdWords as their preferred PPC model

On the first look, the stats might not make a lot of sense to you if you are not aware of PPC and AdWords. However, in simple words, it indicates that the buying intention of visitors reaching your website is almost double than organic visitors.

The numbers clearly indicate that both PPC and SEO are widely adopted as preferable digital marketing strategies. Now, both these digital marketing strategies increase the traffic on your website, get you high-quality leads and improve conversion rates.

This makes it difficult to make a choice between SEO and PPC. To better understand the difference, we have to chalk out the pros and cons of each.

Pay Per Click or PPC

PPC is a highly concentrated inbound marketing strategy that delivers immediate results but at a specific cost. As the stats suggest, 65% of the online customers who have the intention to buy click on an ad, PPC seems like the most viable option to immediately increase sales. But there are pros and cons to this digital marketing strategy:

Benefits of PPC

The most evident one is the fact the PPC offers immediate results. It is a very attractive quality for marketers who are looking to generate high traffic for their websites in a limited amount of time.

For businesses who are interested only in qualified leads instead of traffic, PPC is an excellent option. A person clicking on the ad has almost double the chances of completing the order than the organic visitors.

New businesses with no previous brand visibility, relying on SEO for sales and traffic means waiting for organic results to show up. Instead, PPC offers a valuable marketing tool to immediately drive more traffic to their business and become more visible to the target audience.

In terms of conversion rates, PPC fairs a lot better than SEO. No matter how much time and money is invested in SEO, a PPC campaign always outperforms. According to SeoMoz, with properly optimized landing pages, paid traffic is 1.5 times more likely to result in a successful conversion. As you target only high-intent keywords in a PPC campaign your chances of success are very high.

You can diversify your PPC efforts to reach the target audience. Google AdWords is the most popular PPC platform used by businesses but it is not the only one. You can target potential customers on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn using other ad networks.

Drawbacks of PPC

The budget-friendliness of PPC strategy is very poor. Some competitive keywords can have a ridiculously high cost per click rates and PPC campaigns have a tendency to burn a hole in pockets. Some keywords like insurance go as high as $54.19 which clearly is not very budget friendly. Do not expect PPC campaigns cost will come down any time sooner, instead, they are still on the rise.

After the cost, the relevancy of PPC campaigns is a real stress. You have to work hard to find keywords that result in conversion but are also in the optimal price range. Then you have to ensure that your budget is not getting drained by black-hat targeted clicks. The struggle is real!

You have to keep on your toe to keep your ads optimized and it is a time-consuming process. You need an ad with maximum CTR and minimum CPC. If you do not hire professionals for the job, you will end up spending a lot of time learning how to optimize PPC ads.

Last, as soon as you stop putting money in PPC campaigns your traffic source dies. You are once again at the starting point with no benefits. PPC does not offer a stable stream of traffic or sales.

Search Engine Optimization or SEO

There is a reason why 60% of the businesses still choose SEO as their primary marketing strategy even when it is stretched over time and requires continuous efforts. Here is why businesses choose SEO over PPC:

Benefits of SEO

Cost-effectiveness of SEO as compared to PPC is exceptionally high. This is the primary reason why marketers rely on SEO as their long term digital marketing strategy. Unlike PPC, where you have to pay for every single visitor brought to your website, SEO has no cost related to the amount of traffic flooding to your website.

You do not need to have deep pockets to start a basic SEO campaign. Even in some cases, your own inbound marketing expert can lead the charge of SEO without any investment on your part. This is not possible with PPC.

SEO means free traffic and unlike PPC campaigns that have a different cost for different industries, search engine optimization is almost the same across industries. SEO does not need a lot of money but time which is why small business prefers SEO.

Marketers agree that SEO is ideal for startups that are on a tight budget but need to build traffic for their websites. You can learn SEO on your own and create more authoritative websites that search engines reward for their quality. PPC, on the other hand, is a much more complicated process requiring technical acumen.

SEO offers long terms results. It is true that you have to invest time and wait before results show, but once they come, you just need to keep your SEO efforts up and the results will remain at the same level. However, with PPC although you get immediate results they are not forever. Once you cut the money supply, traffic via PPC campaigns dies but if you stop SEO efforts your traffic will have little impact and will decline gradually.

SEO is preferred by marketers as the sustainable traffic generating mechanism.

Drawbacks of SEO

With SEO you are at the mercy of search engine algorithms. And 40% of the marketers agree that the biggest challenge with SEO is the ever-changing search result algorithms. If you are relying on a search engine for traffic and brand recognition, any change in the stability of its search algorithm can have devastating consequences for your online business.

You have to remain constantly in touch with search engine algorithm changes and act as soon as there is one. Keeping up with updates is a major challenge.

Another major concern is the severity of the penalties, you can end up losing almost 90% of your website traffic over-night if you get penalized by search engines.

When to choose PPC and When SEO is a better option

If your business requires quick results and it not restricted by financial resources, PPC campaigns can work wonder for you.

Also, in a scenario where you want to get the attention of your competitor’s audience, PPC can get you that without need to build an online presence.

Another reason to use PPC is if you are targeting an audience from different demographics. Facebook and YouTube ads allow you to target exactly the group of audience you want.

Furthermore, businesses looking forward to launching new services or products can use PPC to get quick answers instead of relying on SEO and wait for months.

Now SEO is ideal for businesses on a small budget like startups and NGOs. SEO campaigns require more time investment and less money this is why small and mid-sized businesses choose it over PPC.

Businesses looking for sustainable long-term benefits from their marketing strategy will find SEO as a better option.

If you are not desperate for quick results and can gradually build on your marketing goals, SEO can offer long-lasting benefits. Businesses invest in boosting their SEO for months before special events like Christmas sales and Black Friday, because with SEO campaigns you can get the same results but for a fraction of a cost.


There is no “one size fits all” digital marketing solution and determining if SEO or PPC is the winner is harder than it looks. There are many factors to be accounted for depending on your end goals.

The ideal choice between SEO and PPC depends on your business’ long-term and short-term goals, financial resources, and customers.

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