If you’re interested in boosting website visitors through search engines, you have two main options available to you – pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimisation (SEO). PPC involves paying Google to appear in their sponsored results at the top of the page, and SEO is all about working to achieve natural rankings within the main results, usually somewhere on the first page.

These options can both be used at the same time, though it’s wise to have a good understanding of the pros and cons of each in order to make an informed decision about the best tactics for your business.

Let’s take a look at how they compare.

Initial set-up time and costs

An effective PPC campaign can be set up within just a few hours if you know what you’re doing. Your site will instantly rank for the search terms that you’ve chosen, providing you’ve stipulated a sufficient budget. An SEO campaign, on the other hand, requires your whole site to be reviewed and tweaked so it is fully optimised. The budget will vary from one professional SEO service to another, so it’s impossible to state a figure here. As a general guide though, PPC will have lower initial costs and set-up time.

Longer-term value

For as long as you want to see results from a PPC campaign, you’ll continue to pay for each and every single visitor to your site. As soon as your budget runs out, that traffic source is stopped immediately. SEO, on the other hand, has longer-term benefits. If your site is optimised effectively and a good link-building strategy has taken place, you’re likely to continue to see results well into the future. Paying a fee to an SEO company every month should ensure that the site keeps its high rankings, though if you decided to end your relationship with the SEO, it will usually take months to start noticing a big negative impact on traffic. In this sense, SEO has a much higher long-term value.


Measurability is absolutely essential in any online marketing activity. After all, you want to know if you’re putting your cash in the right places. When you’re using PPC, the search engine will provide you with a detailed analysis of cost per lead and other important factors. If you’re taking the SEO route, you’ll need to add some code to your site so you can use a tool such as Google Analytics to measure your results. Your SEO practitioner will take care of this for you, though it’s possible to do yourself, if slightly more complicated. When it comes to measurability, there’s no clear winner between PPC and SEO.


The short answer here is that neither PPC nor SEO are easy. They both require in-depth knowledge, understanding and experience if they are to work effectively for a business. It’s true that pretty much anyone can set up a PPC campaign if they know how to use the internet, but it really isn’t that simple. You need to carry out extensive keyword research, gauge user intent, choose the best landing pages for various search terms, and a multitude of other tasks. Similarly, SEO involves all of these things, plus knowledge of copywriter, meta tags, HTML and more. This could be debated forever, but the point is that both are difficult. You’ll need to dedicate some serious time and energy to either, or seek out a professional to do it for you.

Whether you should choose PPC or SEO for your website varies depending on the nature of your business, the results you want to see, and the resources you have available. Carefully consider both options before rushing into your decision. Once you’ve chosen your approach, continuously test and evaluate the results.

Do you use PPC and SEO? Which have you found to work best for your business?


This article was brought to you by Ruth Hinds on behalf of WebSearch SEO. WebSearch is based in London and offers risk free, pay on results SEO services including link-building packages for online synergy and success. 

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