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PPC vs. SEO.... The Title Match!

Apr 22, 2015 11:33:00 PMBy Doug Lang Posted in SEO, Pay-Per-Click PPC


Ladies and Gentlemen…. For the thousands reading blogs, and the millions & MILLIONS surfing the web…. Let’s get ready to RUUUUMBLE!! In one corner, we have the flashy, quick-hitting, upstart – Pay Per Click (PPC). In the other, the grizzled, yet savvy, veteran – Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Both have their fans, both have their detractors. Who will win the search engine Marketing/Advertising bout for the ages? It’s anybody’s guess at this point. 

Anyone who has a website or is planning a website for a business knows what a keyword is and that it (they) can affect the traffic to their site. I mean, that’s why anyone has a website to begin with, right? To attract potential customers, and increase revenue. Search engines have become the primary starting point for these potential customers – over 80% of people looking for products and services online use them to help in their endeavor. That’s why everyone wants, and strives, to be at the top of the page for their respective Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Now, how do you get to the promised land? That’s where things get tricky. And that’s where we’ll begin. 


Pay Per Click is currently the most used form of online advertising. Its popularity is easy to understand. It is a fast, easy to understand concept, and cost-effective solution to get your company to the top of the search engine rankings. The conversion rates are high, and the amount you spend is a direct correlation of the amount of traffic you get. 

You can think of PPC advertising as a silent auction for results placement. You bid what you want to pay for ad placement in the search results for specific keywords or phrases (long-tailed keywords). When those keywords are searched for, you’ll show up at the top of the SERP (depending on your competitors’ bids and other factors). Then, every time your ad is clicked, sending a visitor to your website, you pay the search engine whatever your final bid was. Pretty simple. 

But there are drawbacks. Once you’re on top, your competitors may outbid you for your spot. So, constant vigilance is required to keep your position. Upping the bid also costs more, as does paying the bid price every time someone clicks on your ad – it’s not a one-shot deal! And then there’s the junk traffic or click fraud…. People who accidently click on your ad or click with no intention of buying (research). There have even been cases of competitors repeatedly clicking on ads to eat up daily budgets an kill their ROI. It’s tough at the top. 


Search Engine Optimization is the O.G. – Original Gangsta, Old Guard – of online advertising. It has been around, and used, since search engines were born. Through proper construction of your website, you improve your true (or organic) ranking on SERPs. If done right, you gain more consistent, long-term traffic from people who are actually interested. It can be the lower cost solution for quality consistent traffic to your website.

The word most often associated with SEO is organic. Organic traffic. Organic search results. Simply put, it just means not paid for. SEO should be a thoughtfully and carefully planned strategy which brings your site organic traffic from search results. Through strategic website building and improving, including prominently placed pre-planned keywords and phrases, you gain position in organic search results. You can potentially produce more traffic for less overall spend with a proper SEO campaign.

However…. SEO is time consuming, not guaranteed, and in most cases,lacks immediacy. To properly implement an SEO strategy, you must be prepared to do a lot of the leg work. And wait. You will have to research the keywords to be used, and the algorithms search engines are using to determine rankings. You’ll have to change your website accordingly, and do your own metrics tracking. Even if you are doing it all right, you won’t see results for a while (think weeks or even months). After you do all of that and more, you still may not be on top – there are no bids, contracts, or guarantees. It’s a long way to the top.

Pros & Cons

Just like there is a website for every market, industry, business and niche, each website may utilize or benefit from SEO and/or PPC differently. You have to decide which one is right for your business.



  • It’s Fast – You can be at the top of your SERP in a couple of hours or by end of day.

  • High Conversion Rate – More focused/targeted audience.

  • Custom Landing Page – Send clicks to specific, detailed pages.

  • Easy Start – Choose keyword, bid, see results.

  • Flexibility – Can change campaign/keywords in hours.

  • Metrics – Easily available via Google, Bing, etc….


  • No Long Term Value – You can’t pay forever. Limited by budget.

  • More Expensive – Great conversion rate, but you’re paying for non-conversions too. No limit to clicks.

  • Less Overall Clicks – Due to the “sponsored ad” tag on PPC ads on SERPs, many people pass on them.

  • Time – Quick to start, but hard to stay on top.

  • Budgetary Contraints – Once the money runs out, so does your placement.



  • It’s Free (relatively speaking) – No bidding and it’s not a consistent cost added to your budget. High Return On Investment (ROI).

  • Lots of Traffic – People visit sites via organic results 8.5 times more than those from PPC.

  • Long Term – It may take longer to see results, but they last long after the initial push.

  • Any Keyword(s) – You can optimize for whatever fits your business, and don’t have to fit into Google or Bing’s keyword selection.


  • No Guarantees – You may put in the work, but never pass a big corporate competitor on the SERP.

  • Lower Conversion Rate – Approximately 1% less than PPC.

  • Patience – It may take a while to see results.

  • Algorithms – Search engines tweak their results formulas fairly regularly. You have to keep up.

And The Winner Is….

It’s a draw. Ugh! Everyone hates a draw!! I know you wanted to hear PPC is the wave of the future (it might be), or stick with the classic, you can’t go wrong with SEO (you really can’t). But, there are so many advantages to each, and so many variables from case to case that I can’t make any sweeping statements. The one analogy that I’ve heard that has always resonated with me is: Think of PPC like renting a house and SEO like buying a home or property. With one you get what you pay for, so long as you’re paying. The other you’re in for the long haul and it’s yours.

Overall, I think it’s important to track your conversions & sources, and record your metrics.  This is the only way to determine a winner for your company.  You’re going to have to test the waters, and whichever one has the highest ROI wins.  I think if you start doing your due diligence, you’ll find there’s room for both in every marketing strategy, very often using results from to fuel the other.

If you have any questions about PPC and/or SEO, or would like to discuss what makes the most sense for your business, feel free to contact Avanti Vision. If you’re not ready or unsure, check out current and future SEO, PPC, and SEM blogs.


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Posted in SEO, Pay-Per-Click PPC