An In-depth Comparison of SEO and PPC for Small Business

by Rudy on July 3, 2019 in Customer Cultivation

Lady standing in the clothing store

With the current state of technology, getting new customers for your business doesn’t look like it did twenty years ago. You need to have a quality website, and you need to have a fundamental understanding of what you need to do to get people to find you online. To get your site noticed, consider two main tools at your disposal: SEO and pay-per-click advertisements. We take a closer look at each to help you decide which is best for your small business.

What Is SEO?

SEO is short for search engine optimization. To put it simply, it is a method of getting more traffic to your site by including words those potential clients use to search for your products or services in the content on your site. Think of SEO as an organic method of increasing site traffic.

How It Works

Search engines like Bing and Google use crawl bots to gather site information and place them on indexes. An index is similar to a library where sites that are most relevant to what a person searches pop up in results first.

To determine the order that these pages appear in results, algorithms analyze the pages for many factors to determine where they will fall in the search results. SEO success is determined by how closely your website matches what the searcher is looking for. 


How to Use It

SEO is unlike PPC ads because you cannot pay for a higher ranking. This means that SEO rankings come organically. In other words, to get ranked high with your site’s SEO, you must have lots of quality, relevant content.

There are several factors that go into your SEO. It is more than just keywords. Quality of content, as well as keywords, are important factors. You also need to factor in speed and crawlability for your SEO quality.

At first, site owners could just put a few buzzwords in specific areas of their content and a site would start ranking. However, algorithms are advancing and keeping relevant sites at the top of search results. As such, you need to put in more effort.

There are also multiple SEO categories, including local SEO, e-commerce SEO, and news/publishing SEO. 

PPC or Pay-per-click Marketing

If you are looking for ways to get more people to notice you online, you have likely come across pay-per-click marketing. This is where you pay a fee each time one of your ads gets clicked on. It is basically a way of purchasing visits to your website rather than getting those visits organically.

How It Works

This allows a client to bid for placement in the sponsored links when a search is done. When bidding on a keyword such as “dog grooming,” your ad may get the top placement.

When this sponsored ad is clicked, you will pay a fee. When used well, it is a nominal fee because you will make more in traffic and conversions than you pay for the marketing. For instance, if you pay $3 for a click but get a $300 sale, you have a solid gain. 


How to Use It

At first glance, PPC may look like a no-research option, but you still need to select and research quality keywords and get those worked into great campaigns and advertisements. While it may seem like busy work, Google and other search engines reward you for creating relevant content that is targeted. With these ads, you will pay less for your clicks. This discount means it truly does pay to know what you are doing with PPC. 

Differences Between PPC and SEO Campaigns

To help consider which is best for your campaign, think about your budget and resources, your objectives and goals, your industry, as well as how your site is currently doing.

With all these in mind, should you use PPC or SEO? It depends, as they are different ways to drive traffic to your site. Most companies will use both to get the advantages of each. 

SEO Benefits

  • It is cost-effective
  • Sustainable and stable results
  • Organic clicks are free
  • Content targeted for different funnel stages
  • Organic results are more powerful than paid results
  • Higher traffic volume

SEO Drawbacks

  • Time-consuming and work-intensive
  • Requires continual improvements to keep at the top of searches
  • Needs attention to link-building, content creation, and other factors
  • No guarantees
  • The learning curve can be overwhelming, and there are regular changes to algorithms

Advantages of PPC

  • Nearly instant results
  • Ads are placed right at the top of search results
  • You can make your presence better with address and phone numbers in search results
  • Smaller base of knowledge needed
  • Google experts offer support and assistance
  • You have access to tons of data
  • You can have test runs

Drawbacks of PPC

  • Price per click can add up
  • With more competitors advertising, price increases
  • Higher initial investment
  • You need to have someone manage the campaign
  • You can’t just stop; will your site continue without these leads?
Marketing budget


Most small businesses will want to use a combination of SEO and PPC tactics to get the best results and make the most of their overall marketing budget. This lets you harness the advantages of each while minimizing the downsides.

Author: Rudy Labordus

Rudy Labordus is an Internationally acclaimed author, marketing strategist and speaker. He has been instrumental in helping launch and develop several multi million dollar businesses around Australia and excels in developing innovative, strategic and creative solutions that produce exceptional results for his clients.