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SEO and PPC: Two roads to one destination

How easy is it to discover your business through search engines like Google?

Websites with poor visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) usually experience a low volume of website traffic, which can slow down business.

The key to boosting website traffic is making sure your website is easy to discover using search engines like Google. But how can this be achieved?

Achieving excellent visibility in SERPs doesn’t happen accidentally; it requires a well-planned strategy. That’s where SEO and PPC come into play.

SEO and PPC are both essential components of search engine marketing (SEM). Whilst they work quite differently, they both set out to achieve a united goal – drive more traffic to your website by increasing visibility in search results.

If you are new to SEM, there’s a lot to learn. There’s a wealth of information about PPC and SEO available online and a lot of technical jargon to get your head around. It can often feel overwhelming.

That’s why we’ve put together this simple, no-nonsense beginner’s guide to SEO and PPC. This article will bring you up to speed with what SEO and PPC are and the advantages and disadvantages of each, helping you to make an informed decision about which strategy will work best for your business.

What is SEO?

Okay, let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start). Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your website to help it appear higher up in organic search engine results for relevant search terms.

A search term is what you type into the search bar on Google when you’re looking for information. So, if I was looking for a local Italian restaurant, my search term might be ‘Italian restaurant Cheshire’. 

Italian restaurant in Cheshire found using local SEOOrganic search results are the search results that appear below the paid ads (‘sponsored’ ads) on a search results page. 

So, with good SEO, more people can find your business when searching on Google for products or services like yours.

SEO is a long-term strategy, an ongoing process that requires a lot of time and dedication to achieve results. However, good SEO sets your website up for long-term success; it’s a good foundation for ranking highly with search engines like Google – and technically, it’s free.

If you were to be an SEO whizz and do all your SEO yourself, you wouldn’t need to pay a penny. However, most business owners don’t have the time or inclination to learn the intricacies of SEO themselves, so it’s likely that you’ll need to hire an in-house SEO expert or outsource your SEO requirements to an agency or freelancer. 

How does SEO work?

Let’s look at SEO basics. SEO is pretty complicated to explain as it has so many different facets. Search engines like Google use ranking factors to ascertain how relevant and useful your website is. There are many ranking factors, but the most important ones are mobile friendliness, high-quality content, user experience, page speed, internal and external links, and on-page optimisation.

SEO is the process of optimising your website for these ranking factors. Some important elements of a successful SEO strategy include:

  • Keyword research and strategy
  • Optimisation of metadata
  • Link building
  • Creation of high-quality website content
  • Optimisation of website architecture

As you can see, SEO is much more than simply adding a few keywords to your website. We’ll save the intricacies for another post! Or, if you want to find out more now, speak to our SEO team about our SEO services.

SEO advantages

Sustainable – The gains from a good SEO strategy are long-lasting and sustainable. Once your website ranks well organically, it’s much easier to maintain that position. In comparison, PPC requires ongoing payment for ads; stop paying, and you lose your position.

Cost-effective – While SEO may require an initial investment if you’re hiring the services of an expert, it’s generally more cost-effective in the long run compared to the continuous costs of running PPC campaigns.

Website quality – An effective SEO strategy improves various aspects of a website, including content and user experience. This can have other beneficial effects; it can potentially improve business reputation, increase conversion rates, and boost your business’s overall profitability.

Excellent click-through rates – Many studies have found that organic search results tend to have higher click-through rates than paid ads.

Credibility – A high organic ranking is a badge of credibility and authority in your sector. People tend to trust organic search results more than paid ones.

SEO drawbacks

Long-term strategy – Because SEO is a long-term strategy, it could take months to see significant results. If you need to drive traffic to your website quickly, SEO will probably not help you achieve this.

small white alarm clockRequires expertise – SEO is complex and ever-changing. Sure, if you had plenty of time on your hands, you could learn it, but most business owners are stretched thin. If this is the case, you’ll need to use a professional SEO service or hire an SEO specialist to help.

Competitive – Ranking highly for particular keywords can be very competitive, particularly if you’re in a saturated niche. If you’re up against big names in the industry, standing out can require a significant investment of time.

What is PPC?

Now we’ve got to grips with what SEO is and how it works, it’s time for a PPC introduction.

PPC stands for pay-per-click. PPC is a type of online advertising where advertisers create targeted ad campaigns and pay each time someone clicks on their ad and visits their website.

Many different platforms use a PPC advertising model, but for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on Google PPC ads.

Unlike SEO, PPC offers much faster results. The catch? If you stop paying for the ads, the traffic to your website will drop off.

PPC ads come in all different formats; they’re not always just text-based. Popular types of PPC ads that appear within Google’s search results include search ads, video ads, and shopping ads.

How does PPC work?

While PPC is not as complex to learn as SEO, a lot of skill is still involved in creating a high-performance PPC campaign. 

First, keyword research is performed to identify the best keywords to target. Next, you need to decide how much you want to pay-per-click. Then, you must create a compelling, relevant ad that motivates your audience to click it. Finally, you need to target your ad at the right people. If you’ve never created a PPC advertising campaign before, then it can be a steep learning curve and take a lot of trial and error to create an ad that is both effective and cost-efficient. 

To maximise your return on investment, it is advisable to seek professional PPC services or advice and support from a PPC specialist, at least when setting up your first campaigns.

PPC advantages

Fast results – Unlike SEO, which can take months to achieve noticeable results, PPC campaigns can be set up quickly and deliver instant traffic.

Prime positioning – PPC ads often appear above organic search listings at the very top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Highly targeted – PPC allows for very granular targeting, allowing you to specify who sees your ads based on various factors, including demographics, location, and search intent. This helps to drive highly targeted traffic to your website.

Audience written on a whiteboardRicher content – PPC ads allow for creativity. Depending on the type of ad you create, you may include images, additional links, videos, and buttons, allowing you to provide more information and entice your audience to click.

Increased visibility – Even if users don’t click on your ad, appearing at the top of SERPs helps to increase visibility and boost brand awareness amongst your target audience.

Cost-effective – When managed correctly, PPC can offer a good return on investment (ROI) due to its highly targeted nature, making it a cost-effective option for businesses looking to gain quick visibility online.

PPC drawbacks

Costly – PPC can be quite expensive, particularly if you’re targeting high-value keywords. Costs can add up quickly if your campaign is not well-optimised.

Continuous investment – Unlike SEO, where the investment can offer long-term results, PPC requires continuous financial input. Once you stop paying, your visibility vanishes.

Competitive – Like SEO, ranking for popular keywords within your industry or niche can be very competitive. In PPC, bidding wars can break out for popular keywords, making them very expensive to rank highly for.

What are the key differences between SEO and PPC?

By now, you should have a good idea about what SEO and PPC are and the advantages and drawbacks of each. Their differences mean one can be more suitable for certain business needs than the other.

Let’s break down the key differences between the two to get a better understanding.


The most significant difference between SEO and PPC is probably the timeframe for seeing results. SEO is a long-term strategy – it could take months to see significant results. In comparison, you could start seeing results from an effective PPC campaign as soon as it goes live.


Next up is cost. It’s free when people click on your link in organic search results. However, you’ll be charged whenever someone clicks on your PPC ad. Depending on your level of expertise, you may also need to pay for professional SEO or PPC services.


Whilst both PPC and SEO campaigns are set up to target relevant keywords, PPC campaigns allow for more granular targeting, allowing you to narrow down your audience based on factors like location, age, interests, and more.

SEO or PPC – Which is right for my business?

Now that we know more about how PPC and SEO work and differ, the question arises: Which is the better strategy for your business?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always straightforward, as it depends on various factors, including your business goals, budget, and timeframe.

Weighing scalesSEO may be more suitable if:

  • You’re promoting informational content – SEO is the ideal option for driving organic traffic to informational articles or videos. This type of content aims to provide the audience with value rather than immediately generate conversions. SEO can help this type of content to rank well over time.
  • You have a low budget – If you’re working with a modest budget, the price of running ongoing PPC campaigns may be out of reach. While SEO does require an initial investment (unless you’re doing it yourself), it is usually more affordable than PPC.
  • You’re a hyper-local business – SEO is an affordable way to gain organic visibility in local search results if you run a small, local business. Often, competition is less fierce for local search terms, helping local businesses to rank highly without much expense.
  • You’re in a very niche market – As with some local businesses, good SEO can help businesses in less competitive, niche markets to quickly and affordably gain visibility in SERPs.

PPC may be more suitable if:

  • You want to promote something time-sensitive – If you’re promoting a new product launch, a special offer, or something else time-sensitive, then PPC can help you get your message in front of the right people immediately.
  • You have an innovative product – SEO helps your business get discovered by people who are already searching for products, services, or businesses like yours. If you have an innovative or unique product that no one is searching for, winning organic traffic using SEO could be challenging. In this instance, a PPC campaign can help you target the right people with your ad, even if they’re not directly searching for it.
  • You’re in a highly competitive market – If you’re in a market dominated by a few big players with large SEO budgets, it can be difficult to compete. PPC ads can offer a more level playing field, allowing you to bid your way to the top for certain keywords.

Of course, every business’s situation is completely unique, and many different factors should be considered when deciding whether SEO or PPC is right for your business.

Need help choosing? Our team here at Create8 can provide advice and guidance on the best option for your unique business and circumstances.

Can I use both SEO and PPC?

It’s a resounding yes from us! 

In fact, in most cases, where the budget allows, running an integrated search strategy that incorporates both SEO and PPC together helps businesses achieve optimal results.

Using SEO and PPC together can help to build brand awareness, maximise SERP coverage, boost sales, and enhance brand credibility and trust.

Partner with Create8 to build effective SEO and PPC campaigns

Whether your business requires long-term success with SEO, immediate visibility using PPC, or sustainable growth using a combination of the two, partner with Create8 to boost your online presence.

We help clients create tailored SEM campaigns that meet their business objectives and help them drive more website traffic and win more conversions.

Ready to find out more? Contact us today to discuss your requirements and receive a free, no-obligation consultation with our SEM experts!

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