As the complexities of the online marketplace continue to evolve, it’s crucial to choose the right digital marketing approach for your business. Search engines are a major driver of internet traffic, so it’s important to take a look at SEO and PPC, and how you can use them to build your business. In this article, we’ll explore both paid and organic search, giving you all the information you need to understand the differences between search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC), and which offers the most relevant benefits to your business.

As the complexities of the online marketplace continue to evolve, it’s crucial to choose the right digital marketing approach for your business. Search engines are a major driver of internet traffic, so it’s important to take a look at SEO and PPC, and how you can use them to build your business. In this article, we’ll explore both paid and organic search, giving you all the information you need to understand the differences between search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC), and which offers the most relevant benefits to your business.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is an effective way to increase your organic website traffic that doesn’t involve paying for adverts. The idea is to enhance the visibility of your website to search engines, so it will appear closer to the top of the search rankings for relevant search terms. As a result, you should get more clicks and (hopefully) more sales.
If you’re pretty new to SEO, it’s a good idea to get a basic understanding of how the rankings work. Search engines use bits of tech known as crawlers, which view, record and index page after page after page on the web. The data they gather is then fed into complex algorithms created by highly paid boffins, and it’s these algorithms that decide the rankings.

An SEO-friendly website therefore needs to be created in a way that not only appeases search engines and their creepy crawlies, but also appeals to your human audience. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this, and while those in the know have a solid understanding of the ranking factors used by Google and co, the exact algorithms are not only a well-kept secret, but are also constantly changing.

Here are just some of the ranking factors that search engines consider when serving results to users:

  • Relevant content
  • Website structure
  • Links to and from your website
  • Page load speed
  • User engagement
  • Bounce rate
  • Frequency of updates

This is far from an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea of what a successful SEO campaign entails. It’s worth bearing in mind that SEO doesn’t happen overnight, and you’ll need to be continually chipping away at it to keep up with those pesky algorithm changes.

What is PPC?

Pay per click advertising, or PPC, involves spending money to get users onto your website. Like SEO, PPC uses targeted search terms to get your website in front of more people. However, the key difference between the two is that PPC is a campaign of paid adverts, guaranteeing that your website will be served should certain criteria be met.

As the name suggests, you only pay for that advert if someone clicks on it. By bidding on certain keywords, optimising your budget spend and continually tweaking your ads, you can reduce the cost per click (CPC) of each campaign, resulting in a more efficient campaign that gets results.

We’ve all seen PPC advertising in action. When you search for something using Google, you’ll likely see a few results at the top and bottom of the page labelled “Ad”. That’s what you’re paying for in your PPC campaign. It’s easy to see how these would be effective, offering a convenient click and enticing blurb that promises to answer your query.

Other than the difference of paid versus organic marketing, PPC differs from SEO in one major way, and that’s that you can turn your paid campaigns on and off at will, giving near-instant results.

SEO vs PPC: How they stack up

Search engine optimisation and pay per click may feel like polar opposites, but they’re really two sides of the same coin, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s take a look at some of the major points and see how they measure up.


PPC will give you results in a very short time. Your site will instantly appear at the top of relevant searches, which should bring in more traffic. This is great if time isn’t on your side and you need to hit a sales target or advertise a limited offer.

You’ll be waiting much longer to see visible results from your SEO efforts. Developing optimised content takes time, with no ultimate guarantee that the changes you make will drastically impact your search rankings. SEO is an ongoing process that requires patience but yields long-lasting results that are worth the wait.

Ongoing cost

PPC is by its nature pay to play. Although you’ll experience an instant traffic increase once you activate your campaign, you need to be constantly pumping in budget to maintain this; stop paying and the clicks stop too. However, the fast nature of PPC means that you get feedback almost instantly, so you can test and tweak your campaigns quickly without throwing away too much money.

SEO costs a lot to set up but can be much cheaper to maintain. Once you achieve a good ranking, the traffic should continue to flow your way without too much input from your bank account. Unlike PPC, it can be a long time before you see the results of your efforts, which may mean wasting money on a low-performing piece of content with no way to recoup that loss after you find out it’s a flop.


SEO is somewhat of a dark art that calls for technical website tweaks, analysis of constantly shifting algorithms, and a whole load of research. Without the right knowledge and skill, you can easily do more harm than good, so it’s worth investing in the resources of an experienced SEO digital marketer.
In contrast, you can see great results from PPC with little more effort than the initial search for the most relevant search terms. Once you’ve added them to your campaign, you’re essentially just paying for the privilege of internet traffic. Of course, the best results come from careful optimisation of your budget spend, so an expert eye will help you get more bang for your buck.


The average conversion rate of SEO across all sectors is 2.4%, while this is just 1.3% for PPC. Even when broken down by sector, SEO wins out every time. This is in part because users are more trusting of search engine results than they are of paid adverts. While anyone can throw together a PPC campaign for pretty much whatever they feel like, only hard work and a great reputation can help your website climb to the top of Google.

However, that isn’t to say that PPC isn’t worthwhile. There are many cases where this type of marketing is highly effective, particularly if you’re looking to target your audience at a certain stage of the sales funnel. You can also ensure exactly which page visitors will land on when they click your link, which should yield greater relevancy and more conversions.

SEO & PPC: Stronger together

SEO and PPC are two different approaches that each have their place in digital marketing. Although using one on its own can be effective, it’s a bit like going into a fight with one arm tied behind your back.

The very best digital marketers know how to effectively combine the two approaches, reaping the rewards of both and minimising those pesky downsides. Instead of choosing between the two, it’s better to look at it as a balancing act.

Here are just a few of the considerations that may help you to find the right focus for your SEO and PPC campaigns:

  • What industry are you in?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you require sales leads right now?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How much authority does your brand already command?
  • Where do your competitors rank?
  • Do your competitors use PPC?

Ultimately, SEO and PPC work best together, creating a holistic approach to your digital marketing that should provide great results both in the short and long term.

Your SEO & PPC experts

If you’d like more advice on SEO and PPC, or you’d like to put your campaigns in the hands of dedicated experts, contact DWH today. Whether you’re a digital marketing expert or a complete novice, the team is on hand to support you as much or as little as you need.