Many clients that we speak to want to understand exactly what the key differences are between Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Although we don’t offer PPC services, this type of marketing is just as important and useful as SEO, but for different reasons. Here is a breakdown of the key differences between PPC and SEO, giving you a clear understanding of the pros and cons of each service.


PPC is a fast way to get advertised in Google. By setting up an account at you can choose the keywords you would like to appear for and set your daily budgets. This process can be completed within about 15 minutes and your ads live within an hour.

SEO (if done correctly) takes a minimum of three months to start showing positive results. The reason for this is that SEO is the process of developing a relationship with Google, built on trust. Google has to be able to trust your website and understand the relevancy your website has to the keywords you are targeting. This relationship cannot be forced, and will grow naturally over time. For this reason, we would estimate a minimum of 3 – 6 months before visible results are achieved.


PPC provides exposure in the sponsored listings of the search engine results pages (SERPS). This is good because you can be at the absolute top of the page if the price and quality of your website is right, however the downside is that there is still a percentage of people that do not trust the sponsored listings, and therefore do not click on them.

SEO provides exposure in the natural / organic listings within the SERPS. An eye-tracking study by Dutch market research firm De Vos & Jansen found that Organic results were viewed most often – 98% viewed these results, while 95% looked at the sponsored results at the top, and only 31% the sponsored results on the right of the page. [Source: De Vos & Jansen, February 2007]


PPC ads can stop displaying when budgets have been depleted. If managed correctly and the PPC Campaign is optimised, this is reduced, however the PPC space can be fierce so a considerable monthly spend can be required to maintain a good level of exposure.

SEO campaigns work on a fixed monthly budget depending on the amount of time you want to buy. Strictly speaking, you are effectively buying time from an agency, and the more time spent the more results you can achieve. A big difference between PPC and SEO is that once you rank organically, you stay there. Therefore you have a more consistent exposure within the results, for as long as Google sees you as useful and relevant.


PPC activity serves well as a short term strategy to get exposure up and running through Google. Because a PPC campaign can be setup quickly and managed as required, its a low risk investment which can be initiated to see what kind of return a business can see from the Google results.

SEO is the opposite. SEO by its very nature takes time, and therefore is a long term strategy. A business must consider their marketing spend over a period of months rather thank weeks (in the case of trialling PPC), however once exposure is achieved in the natural listings the exposure can deliver fantastic results consistently over time.

Google Rules

PPC – Google administers PPC by ordering results based on the Adwords quality score ( When entering a landing page url, Googles algorithm determines the quality of your landing page and its usefullness / relevancy to the keywords you want to appear for. Based on this you will be presented various click rates which you can advertise with. The better quality score you have, the more reasonable the click cost. The lower quality score you have, the higher the click cost.

SEO – Google’s latest algorithm (CAFFIENE) calculates which websites are the most useful / relevant for a particular keyword. This algorithm release places a higher emphasis on the hosting location of your website (for speed purposes) and the naming of your website (if your website name has keywords in it or not). Those websites which have keywords in them are slightly more favourable, although you won’t reach position one based just on this factor :-).


To summarise, Google Pay Per Click (Sponsored Listings) is a fantastic way to advertise within Google quickly and at low risk. Its a short term strategy which you can have complete control over, and if you are not happy with the results you can stop it at any time. The downside of PPC activity is that it can be costly and if your campaign is not optimised effectively, or your website doesnt score well with Googles Adwords Quality Score, you could be paying very high prices for clicks, giving you a lower Return On Investment.

Search Engine Optimisation, is a long term strategy, which should be invested into once you have tried PPC and know the benefits to your business. Calculate your budget and be prepared to be patient as ethical seo does take time. If done correctly, the ROI is a lot higher than PPC marketing and you can receive fantastic exposure within a part of the results which people view and trust the most.

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