Paid Advertising vs SEO • Digital Dot New York

Paid Advertising vs SEO

PPC vs SEO is a common dilemma that comes down to running a sprint or a marathon. When faced with a choice between an instant short-term solution and a prolonged long-term one – which would you choose? This dilemma is one that presents itself when you journey into the world of digital marketing, looking for a way to make your brand the #1 choice. And it is best defined through the simple duel of paid advertising vs SEO. Today, Digital Dot provides a closer look at:

  • Fundamental differences between SEO and Paid Advertising
  • Statistical pros and cons of Paid Advertising and SEO

What is the crucial difference between the two strategies?

The answer is simple enough – the traffic they bring. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps you generate free (organic) traffic to your website. On the other hand, Paid Advertising (also known as Pay Per Click – PPC) generates traffic that costs you.

Despite this key difference, both of these Search Engine Marketing (SEM) solutions are globally accepted and used. To better portray the conflict in Paid Advertising vs SEO, we will consider the following five criteria:

  1. Overall Cost
  2. Traffic Potential
  3. Conversion Rate
  4. Search Results Rankings
  5. Ease of Use

The Overall Cost

Piggy bank
Both PPC and SEO offer profitable solutions.


SEO traffic is free whereas PPC traffic is not – this is fact. However, this doesn’t mean that SEO will not require investments on your end. In the beginning, the profit gained from SEO will only be a portion of the overall SEO costs. But as your strategy develops, this will change for the better. Once your optimization reaches its peak, you will find that the overall costs of SEO will be a small part of the profit SEO brings to your business.

It takes time, experience, effort, and resources to bring your SEO strategy to a level where it brings in organic traffic. Depending on the industry and competition, it can be challenging to rank at the very top of search results for relevant keywords.

Despite anything people tell you, there are no shortcuts in SEO. It takes hard work and knowledge to take this long journey to success. However, you will find countless success stories from other companies that will confirm that the journey is well worth the results. And this is especially true when opting for hiring a professional and reliable SEO company to get the job done.

Paid Advertising

The cost of Paid Advertising depends on more factors. We’ll use the most popular advertising systems as an example – Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). Here, we have a seemingly simple system that determines the cost of your advertising based on:

  • The popularity of the keyword
  • Number of advertisers using the keyword (competitiveness)
  • Quality of user experience that your landing pages and ads offer, etc.

So, although seemingly simple, there is a whole lot more to the entire story. You are basically paying for each click your paid ad receives. And this is actually good since you don’t pay for views but only for actual clicks. Therefore, it is easier to control by determining a daily budget and paying no more than that.

The breakdown of it all

  • SEO costs are opportunistic – you invest long-term to gain the chance of ranking high in search results. However, people that never did SEO find it complex and overwhelming, which leads to unplanned and high expenses. That is why hiring a professional SEO company is never a bad choice to make, and we can explain this further if you wish. Schedule your SEO consultation with Digital Dot now!
  • Paid Advertising (PPC) costs you each click on your ads while allowing you to position your website on the 1st page of Google search results. But at the same time, the moment you stop paying for the ads, you are no longer in the race and out of traffic.

Traffic potential

As a basic rule of thumb, the organic traffic that SEO helps you generate is much larger in volume than PPC traffic in the long run. So long as you manage to rank high for that keyword, you will get much more traffic than with the use of paid advertising. We should mention that while PPC can bring in good traffic initially, SEO can multiply that traffic once fully developed.

People looking at their mobile phones
SEO brings in high-volume wide-spread traffic whereas PPC targets specifically.

Marketing studies show that being positioned among the top five search results for a keyword brings in a 24/7 traffic flow. And all that without having to pay anything for those leads. Certainly, there are scenarios where PPC can get you more clicks than organic leads, but those usually translate to much bigger costs. Additionally, PPC offers users a clear way to segregate their target audiences (based on gender, location, age, etc.)

The breakdown

  • SEO – organic traffic is dominant and fluent so long as you rank high on the first page.
  • Paid Advertising – traffic is dependent on the amount of money you invest.

Conversion Rate

A female sales representative trying to convert a lead into a client
The question arises – which leads are more likely to convert – organic ones or paid ones?

Theoretically speaking, leads that come from highly targeted and optimized ads have a higher chance of conversion. The reason for this is that these visitors are far more likely to find exactly what they’re looking for. However, this is a short-lasting moment until you bring your SEO strategy to a point where it can generate more conversions based on the sheer quantity of leads.

The breakdown

  • Although much better in generating traffic, SEO can produce fewer conversions as the range it covers goes beyond the sales funnel and taps into creating informative content as well. This leads to boosting online presence and establishing a strong brand for your company. As a result, it can surpass PPC in time as more people will recognize the brand and associate it with the quality of service or products.
  • Paid Advertising can offer a higher conversion rate with targeted keywords but will cost more.

Search Results Rankings

PPC Ads tend to appear at the top or below organic results of search pages, depending on various factors. Whereas organic results only ever appear mid-page. The position your web page takes in that middle of the page depends on the level of optimization of your website, on-page and off-page SEO elements, etc.

The breakdown

  • SEO – you get top positions so long as your optimization is well-established
  • Paid Advertising – you get top positions during the time your ads are active and as long as you offer great user experience

Ease of use

Both options require extensive knowledge and resources for one to profit from them in the best way possible.

Search Engine Optimization is a strategy with a time frame ranging from months to years. Whether you decide to hire an SEO agency or in-house SEO expert, it takes time and effort.

Pay Per Click results don’t require nearly as much time, but you still need experience. Taking an extensive course is an option, in addition to hiring a PPC company.

People looking at a laptop
Both PPC and SEO require knowledge and experience to ensure ease of use.

Paid Advertising vs SEO trends and stats

Paid Advertising

  1. The top three paid ads get as much as 46% of the clicks on that pageThat’s almost half of all traffic for that keyword.
  2. On average, businesses tend to make $3 in revenue for every $1.60 they spend on AdWords. 
  3. Well over 615 million devices use AdblockThis is bad news for PPC efforts, as a large part of your target audience will never see your ad.
  4. PPC Ads boost awareness by 80%.In spite of ad blockers, PPC is still effective in increasing your brand’s reach and awareness.
  5. 63% of people noted they click on Google ads. A high Click Through Ratio (CTR) is a compelling statistic for investing in PPC.
  6. 75% of users note it easier to find what they’re looking for based on paid ads. The paid ads tend to answer the question of the searcher and are easy to find at the top of the SERP.


  1. Almost 80% of users will ignore paid advertising in search results. Nearly 70% of the links search users click are organic. People prefer organic links over paid ones.
  2. Web search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites. It trumps social media by more than 300%
  3. SEO drives as high as 30% of traffic and practically 20% of revenue. With the growth of authority and visibility, SEO ROI also tends to accumulate over time.
  4. 36.2% of consumers recognize paid ads but never click on them. Even despite this, consumers still prefer organic links instead of paid ones.
  5. 88% of searches for mobile device users either end with a call or a visit to the business within 24 hours.
  6. One in ten blog posts is compounding. Organic search increases their traffic, which leads to a higher number of conversions. Historical content is a fundamental step in every customer acquisition strategy and SEO plan.
  7. Organic SEO is precisely 5.66 times better than paid search ads. According to HubSpot, organic optimization draws in consumers with content they enjoy, in comparison to paid advertising which tends to spam users.

The conclusion – eliminate having to choose between the two options

Having laid out so clearly the aspect of Paid Advertising vs SEO, we can draw a simple conclusion from it all. Each approach offers advantages and has its downsides when compared to the other. However, the scenario in which you can utilize either to its fullest potential is when you combine the two. Since they target different audiences and offer separate short-term and long-term results, putting them together will give you the competitive edge your company needs in order to grow.

Whether you are only interested in PPC or in SEO, or a combined strategy of both, you will want to hire a team of experienced professionals that can facilitate and implement that strategy in the best manner possible. Digital Dot offers expertise and resources when it comes to both Paid Advertising and SEO. Contact us now and schedule a consultation with one or more of our specialists!

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