Pay Per Click vs. Search Engine Optimization: Which Search Marketing Method for 2021

When it comes to deciding on which digital marketing method is best to grow a business online, we all have our doubts. No matter which way we go, we all know that search traffic is the key to bring the most relevant audience to your website that is searching for your products/services in Google or any other search engine. It is where the debate over PPC vs. SEO comes up time and time again as their end goal is the same.  

Both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay-Per-Click) are part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to generate traffic through search results. The main difference between SEO and PPC is that traffic coming from search engines is free using SEO practices while PPC is like paid online advertisements for traffic generation by appearing next to relevant searches.

The answer to the question, “Which is better, SEO or PPC?” depends on many factors such as your objective, targeted market, website status, and how much time and money you want to invest in search engine marketing. Both are powerful traffic generating approaches but use different concepts, techniques, and methodologies to drive visitors to a website. PPC is an approach that generates instant and direct results for anyone while new businesses face a hard time getting started with SEO to rank their web pages in search engine result pages (SERP).

In this post, we will try to find the answer to the above question to decide on which is a better search marketing method for your online business. But first, let’s know the basics of both methods.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of website optimization to rank web pages in organic search results in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It improves your site’s visibility to search engines and make your web pages more relevant to users. It helps you appear more often in relevant searches by improving your ranking for relevant keywords. SEO experts implement various practices and strategies for a better ranking in search listings.

No one can pay to rank higher in organic search results because Google or any other search engines use algorithms to calculate the quality and relevance of web pages to rank them accordingly. While optimizing your website and web pages for organic results, SEO professionals look into a number of things such as site copy, design, content, Meta tags, titles, and keywords to improve the website’s SEO score and authority.


  1. Organic traffic is here to stay

SEO is meant for organic search results, and as long as you can retain your ranking in searches for targeted keywords, it will drive consistent search traffic to your website. It is like long-term results for your business growth with the right SEO efforts.2

2. Branding and awareness

SEO improves your search engine visibility in the long run and puts your website in front of potential consumers for the targeted keywords. Consistent visibility in search results drives brand awareness that boosts your credibility on a given subject. It also encourages your audience to give positive reviews and ratings for the positive branding of your business.

3. Better conversion rate

Many users trust organic results over paid ads for credible and genuine services. It results in a better conversion rate to generate more sales and leads to maximize your profit. With consistent and quality traffic, you will get more ways to improve your conversion rate.

4. Cost-effective in the long-term

SEO is a cost-effective approach to drive traffic to your website due to the long-term results of your marketing efforts. There is no cost to appear in organic searches; you have to invest in your SEO planning and strategies initially to optimize your website. It helps you improve your click-through rate (CTR) and return on investment (ROI) on your overall marketing efforts to maximize profitability.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

PPC is paid online advertisements that focus on paid search traffic where you have to pay a cost for clicks to your website. Google Ads are typically associated with paid search engine marketing that lets online businesses to appear next to organic search results and other content. It doesn’t help in SEO rankings but helps you target a wide range of audiences online as per your requirements.

Pay per click vs SEO

PPC ads are the best way to influence users to click on your ads that are looking for similar services through search results. You only pay when a user clicks on your ads to visit your website or call our business. The best part of PPC ads is that you can target a specific audience based on their location, interest, and behavior to promote your business.


  1. Dominating position

Paid ads appear at the top of organic results and dominate the position above-the-fold on search engine result pages. A user will always see paid advertisements that create opportunities to influence them to click on ads with creative ad content.

2. Faster result

Unlike the SEO that takes time to show results in organic searches, PPC ads start performing instantly as soon as they appear next to organic searches in search engines. You can start your PPC campaign right away to promote any specific deal on a specific occasion and drive traffic to your website. PPC ads are much quicker to get you in front of potential consumers as soon as you start your campaign.

3. Targeted advertisement

You can play around with your data and marketing strategies to get in front of your customers. You can design your paid campaigns by targeting search keywords, geography, language, device, time, and more to reach out to a specific group of people that matter most to your business. It increases your chances to get more clicks on your ads and minimizes your cost per click.

4. Visual product ads

You can’t list a visual link with SEO but, PPC ads let you create visual product ads such as product listing and shopping ads. Visual ads have the capability to improve your click-through rate by attracting users with appealing images of your products.

SEO or PPC: Which search marketing method for your business?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which search marketing method is best for your business depending on how fast or consistent results you want. Both approaches can help your business in different ways and in different circumstances. If you are targeting your regular products and services, SEO can help you stay in the business in the long-term but, if you are promoting season-specific deals and don’t have time to rank them, PPC ads can do the trick by targeting your audience right away.

To succeed with either of the campaigns, you should know their strengths and limitations to reach out to your audience effectively for better results. Your business requirements also play a major role in deciding which method will best fit your current needs.

When to use SEO?

  • When you are looking for consistent result
  • When long-term results are desired
  • When you are ready to invest your time too
  • When you want to build an authority site
  • When you want to create a brand and value

When to use PPC?

  • When you want immediate results
  • When you want to target a specific group of people
  • When you are running a time-limited or one-time offer
  • When your website is not SEO ready
  • When you want to dominate organic searches with paid ads for a specific keyword category

These are some specific conditions to help you determine when and which marketing method will be best to target your potential customers. SEO helps you develop good visibility in search results with a little investment on your website optimization initially or some DIY SEO. PPC ads can be handy when a new business is facing a hard time to get started with SEO to rank in organic searches.

Bottom line: Both are great

Both SEO and PPC have their strengths and limitations, and you cannot choose one over the other; you need to use both as part of your search engine marketing campaign. They can show some great results when used together to influence your audience. Let’s say that your website ranks higher in organic searches, and your paid ad is also appearing at the top on the search page, it will send a positive and strong message to your audience that you doing some quality business. It will help you build a brand value on the internet in your targeted niche.

Whether you are looking for your website SEO or want to start with your PPC campaign, you will need expert support and services to get the best results out of your investment. A professional digital marketing company can help you with your SEO as well as PPC campaigns to improve your brand visibility on the internet. Media Search Group is an experienced and reputed digital marketing company that helps businesses of all types and sizes with their online marketing efforts. You can contact us for affordable SEO and PPC services as per your specific business requirements and growth plans.

Ratan Singh

Meet Ratan Singh, a dedicated professional blogger and unwavering technology enthusiast. His journey in the world of content writing commenced over seven years ago. With a fervent passion for the latest advancements in technology, gadgets, mobile phones, apps, and social media, Ratan has emerged as a go-to source for all things tech and digital marketing. His analysis of the social media landscape unravels the latest trends and strategies, making him a valuable resource for digital marketers.