Learning how PPC and SEO work together can help you combine these digital marketing channels to obtain better ROI and SERPs.

The online market is always changing. A digital marketing strategy that brings positive results one month may falter the next, making it tricky for marketers to develop effective strategies. Many startups and small businesses consider PPC and SEO separate entities or alternatives to one another. However, to ensure your website reaches its fullest potential, you must learn how PPC and SEO work together.

In this post, we’ll share the differences between search engine optimization and pay-per-click ad campaigns and how these two digital marketing channels work together to deliver better results.

Let’s get started!

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization is a digital marketing channel marketers use to improve their search result rank for targeted keywords. SEO is one of the oldest online marketing channels, but despite its age, it’s still up there with the best channels today. Today, consumers constantly use search engines for information and most often visit only the pages that appear on the first page of results.

The purpose of SEO is to get your website closer to the first page and give you a better chance of increasing traffic. For example, a restaurant that wants to improve its site ranking for “pizza” might:

  • Use keywords or phrases like “best pizza in New York,” “best pizza place near me,” and “pizza delivery,” etc.
  • Create product descriptions and product descriptions containing the keywords and/or phrases.
  • Rewrite page titles and Meta descriptions in blog posts and web pages to include keywords and/or phrases.
  • Boost website loading speeds (Google recommends a load time of fewer than 2 seconds for better rank)
  • Acquire backlinks from other related websites (except competitors)

What is Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)?

Pay-per-click advertising is promotional tactic marketers use to strategically place ads online and pay a fee whenever a user clicks on any of them. You can see this form of advertising in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Using PPC, you can choose who sees your ads based on age, gender, keywords, languages, and other factors. Even though it’s an inorganic digital marketing strategy, it’s still an affordable way to acquire new customers. However, the cost to bid on keywords and phrases varies, depending on the competition and industry.

PPC companies sell ad placements using an auction system. Advertisers determine their budget, create ads, and specify where and how they’d like them to pop up. Because PPC advertising involves a bidding system, the amount you spend will be proportional to the ad placement you get.

For instance, a popular keyword that shows purchasing intent, like “designer bags,” will be more expensive than a keyword or phrase for educational purposes, like “how to choose a designer bag.” However, both might be valuable for a company to bid on.

PPC vs. SEO – What’s the Difference?

Most people often ask, “Which digital marketing channel is better: PPC vs. SEO?” The answer to this question is subjective, as it depends on your current situation, objectives, and the market. It all falls to understanding your prospective customers and how they use the web to determine which strategy works best for you.

However, learning how PPC and SEO work together can optimize your marketing efforts because these two channels work best when integrated and strategically aligned. The first difference between PPC and SEO is that paid ads usually appear at the top of the search results, above SEO-influenced pages. Secondly, traffic from SEO is free, whereas traffic from PPC is paid.

Why SEO?

The main purpose of SEO is to improve organic traffic. Here are its key benefits:

1. Awareness

Being visible in search engines has the same effect as traditional print media advertising. This drives awareness through the internet via mobile devices and computers. By specifically targeting keywords your audience searches, you’re potentially leading them to your website, depending on how well or consistently you do it.

2. Click-Through Rate

Generally, more users click on organic search results. You can generate more clicks from a highly-ranked organic listing than from top ad placement.

3. Website Traffic

With improved traffic, you have an opportunity to drive more brand awareness and educate visitors as to why they should buy from you, potentially increasing your sales.

4. Credibility

Today, many users skip ads and prefer organic results. This means that having your site rank higher in organic search results can boost credibility and give you a stamp of approval. It tells your customers that your business is the real deal, and you worked hard to get to the top.

5. Return on Investment

Since search engine organization is free, you can expect a greater return on investment (ROI) over traditional marketing strategies, like print media, flyers, paid commercials, etc.

6. Cost

While SEO itself is free, doing it is neither cheap nor easy, as you will require many professionals to consistently build and improve your rank on search engines. However, it is still a more cost-effective strategy than pay-per-click advertising and other tactics for delivering relevant traffic to your website.

7. Sustainability

Unlike paid marketing, organic traffic doesn’t disappear the moment you stop investing. Hence, SEO is more sustainable even when you cut your marketing spend.

8. Strategic Edge

SEO takes time and effort before delivering results – which is a good thing in the long run. Instead of providing instant visibility, it helps you establish yourself in the organic results. If you do it better than most, the only way they can get on top is by relying on paid search. So potentially, SEO can give you a strategic edge over the competition.

Why PPC?

In contrast to SEO, the main purpose of PPC is to optimize visibility. Here are its key benefits:

1.  Position on the Page

Pay-per-click advertising dominates above SEO in terms of position, with four ads on desktop and three on mobile. You’d still see paid ads at the top of search results, even if you choose to scroll past them.

2. Targeting

PPC provides marketers with a refined and accurate way to attract their target audience. You can target potential customers by the time of day, day of the week, search keywords, location, language, and search history. SEO, in contrast, generates more random results in terms of organic traffic.

3. Brand Visibility

PPC gets you seen by your target audience. Even if they don’t click and conduct an organic search, the visibility will still pay dividends to your marketing.

4. Speed

Developing organic visibility through SEO can take time, usually months, depending on your industry and the competition. However, you can create a PPC campaign in days and get in front of your customers instantly for a specific period.

5. Stability

Search engine results from pay-per-click advertising are not as turbulent as search engine optimization results. There are position changes, but they hardly have any impact on performance. An ad will only rise or drop a couple of positions, whereas organic listings can not only move up and down the same page but drop lower to the second or lower pages.

6. Marketing Intelligence

Organic search hides keyword data. However, there’s no such restriction with paid search. Using conversion tracking and analytics software like Google Analytics, you can determine your best-performing keywords and their cost. You can then use this information and apply it to SEO and improve results further.

7. Improved Ads

With PPC, you have far more control and space for delivering promotional messages and product information. Targetting variables you can control include contact, locations, site links, pricing, and call-to-action.

8. Visual Product Ads

If you sell products, you can use Google’s visual advertising option to help users see your value offering before clicking on the ad. The inclusion of visual elements can significantly boost your click-through rate. Plus, this feature isn’t available in organic search.

How PPC and SEO Work Together to Improve Performance

Finally, more marketers in the digital world think of better synergy between pay-per-click advertising and SEO teams. By learning how PPC and SEO work together, you can avoid:

  • Counterproductive strategies.
  • Wasted spend across different platforms due to the selection of low-quality keywords.
  • Inefficient use of each medium.

The following are nine ways PPC and SEO can complement each other and improve your overall plans. Even though PPC doesn’t benefit SEO directly, other benefits can improve your website, increase your leads, and boost brand awareness and revenue.

1. Combining PPC and SEO Increases Your Search Engine Presence

As mentioned above, search engine optimization improves your website, thereby your chances of ranking higher on search engines by targeting one or more keywords. Purchasing the same keyword/s with a sufficient bid places your ad near the top whenever someone searches it.

By doing PPC advertising and SEO for the same keywords, you significantly boost your chances of dominating the search results for those keywords and increase organic and inorganic traffic. Most marketers are often tempted to reduce PPC efforts once they reach their desired organic search rank.

However, they fail to realize that using both channels also gives the impression that you’re an established brand in a particular industry.

2. PPC Helps You Test Keywords for Conversion Potential

While search engine optimization pays off in the long run, it can take significant time, research, and expense. If you’re only focusing on SEO, it’s hard to know which keywords will pay off. Using PPC to test the viability of a keyword is a smart way to improve your SEO efforts.

Identify and analyze the PPC ad keywords that lead to successful conversions and use them to optimize your web pages. The marketing insights can help you make informed decisions about which keywords to scrap and which ones to prioritize. In some cases, the keywords that aren’t very successful in converting users into customers via PPC might be better utilized in optimizing web content that’s meant for visitors who are still considering a purchase.

3. SEO Sets the Stage for Remarketing to Website Traffic

Combining PPC and SEO helps you create seamless synergy between multiple marketing channels. Suppose your website ranks high and gets good organic traffic due to the use of best SEO practices. With a retargeting PPC ad campaign, you can continue to maintain this contact with visitors and stay in the consideration set of online customers. This way, PPC lets you benefit from your successful SEO efforts.

With remarketing, you can bring back these visitors from all mediums that run PPC online ad campaigns to make purchases another time. The scalable nature of PPC ad campaigns ensures that you can control the budget of your remarketing campaigns and prevent overspending. While SEO introduces your brand to potential customers, PPC can ensure they never forget about it.

4. PPC Gives Your Website Visibility Among Search Users While SEO Measures Takes Effect

PPC advertising allows you to present your website against keywords to users using those keywords in their search queries. This way, you can see web traffic even when SEO measures have not fully affected the website’s rank. You can expect your web pages to take months to rank organically on search engine results. Once your web pages start appearing on the first pages of search results against targeted keywords, you can lower your ad spend and reduce marketing costs.


5. PPC Helps You Recover Missed Search Engine Clicks

Just because you’re organically ranking first for a particular keyword doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop spending on PPC ads for that same keyword since organic results don’t fully replace your paid traffic. Hence, by pausing your PPC ads, you could lower your traffic, even if you’re ranking first on results. With PPC, you can recover clicks from users that you might have missed.

6. PPC and SEO Optimize Overall Data Collection

Combing PPC and SEO can give a huge amount of data for decision-making purposes. You can analyze all the similar metrics in both channels, including click-through rate, bounce rates, exit rates, time spent on site, and conversion rate. This data can help you determine the most effective keywords for generating sales or the ones that are driving the most traffic.

With this information, you can make smarter decisions about your marketing.

7. PPC Allows You to Integrate E-Commerce Feeds into Inorganic Results

With E-commerce on the rise, search engines like Google are doing some amazing things. Now, you can link your product pages to PPC ads, featuring the product itself, reviews, pricing, and other information. Before a user clicks on them, they have an idea of what to expect, which can improve your sales, avoid wasted clicks, and boost your brand awareness.

8. Combining PPC and SEO Can Improve Your Organic Content Strategy

Google isn’t too eager to send visitors to pages where they will have a poor experience. Using PPC and SEO together can help you improve your content strategy and improve your organic rank. Using your most effective PPC ads, you can create more effective Meta descriptions, title tags, and page content on your web pages that you want to rank organically.

Since PPC ads work incredibly fast, you can quickly know what works for you and what doesn’t. Organic trial and error are time-consuming, especially for startups that are racing against time.

9. Combining PPC and SEO Can Improve Social Media Visibility

Having a great online presence doesn’t end with creating and optimizing your website. Social media is where most of your customers are at all times, and its landscape is constantly evolving. This change has led to the emergence of targeted marketing opportunities, as platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram all offer targeted ad promotion.

Using these ads, you can narrow your target audience down based using demographics, competitive analysis, and a persona evaluation. For example, you can use Facebook user profile information to show an ad to 17-year-olds living in New York interested in student loans for college or affordable cars. This target audience might be small, but it’s one that is of high quality and ready to convert.


How PPC and SEO work together to improve your overall marketing performance shows how simple yet effective strategies can lead to marketing success. SEO and PPC teams should collaborate more to gain maximum benefits from both channels.

If you’re new to PPC and SEO, SPMarketing can help you devise an effective digital marketing plan. We can also help you improve your online presence on search engines and social media, retarget visitors to your website, test new keywords, and use combined data to help you make better marketing decisions.

For more information, reach out to us right away!