Should your business focus its digital marketing budget on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or search engine optimization (SEO)? That’s the million-dollar question. Both digital marketing strategies can drive countless visitors to your business’s website, resulting in more sales, but there are some key differences between them that shouldn’t be ignored.

The Difference Between PPC and SEO

PPC is an acronym for “pay per click,” which is the defining characteristic of this digital marketing strategy. With PPC ads, you only pay when someone clicks your ad. PPC advertising networks allow marketers and business owners to create custom ads. Depending on the specific network, these ads may be displayed in the search results, or they may be displayed on partner websites. Regardless, you are only charged when someone clicks your ad. It doesn’t matter how many users see your ad. If 10,000 users see it but only one clicks it, you will be charged a small fee for that one click.

Examples of PPC platforms include the following:

  • Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords)
  • Bing Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Bidvertiser
  • AdRoll
  • BuySellAds

SEO, on the other hand, is an acronym for “search engine optimization.” With SEO, you don’t purchase ads. Rather, you optimize your website so that it search engines rank it higher in their index.  SEO is a broad digital marketing strategy that encompasses on-page optimization, such as adding meta tags and publishing high-quality content, as well as off-page optimization, such as building backlinks and citations.

Benefits of PPC

PPC offers a myriad of benefits, one of which is near-instant results. Once the PPC advertising network approves your ad, users will begin to see it. For businesses looking to attract customers immediately, there’s no substitution for PPC.

You’ll also have more targeting options when using PPC than SEO. Aside from targeting keyword searches, there’s really no other way to target specific users with SEO, PPC advertising networks, however, offer a variety of targeting options. Many allow you to target users by location, device, time of day and demographics, meaning you to selectively display your PPC ads to users who are most likely to purchase your business’s products or services.

Benefits of SEO

Of course, there are also plenty of reasons to include SEO in your business’s digital marketing efforts. With SEO, all clicks on your website’s organic search listings are free. This is in stark contrast to PPC, which charge you for each and every click your ads generate. You may have to pay for professional SEO services, but you won’t have to pay for clicks associated with your website’s organic listings.

Furthermore, users trust organic search listings more than PPC search ads. Any business can pay to display its website in a PPC search ad, but only those vetted by Google’s internal ranking algorithm will appear as an organic listing at the top of the search results.

Both PPC and SEO offer unique benefits. PPC offers faster results and more targeting options, whereas SEO costs less and instills visitor trust and confidence. You can take advantage of all these benefits by using PPC and SEO in your business’s digital marketing efforts.