PPC & SEO: Can One Live Without The Other?

By Iida Sirviö Published: 22 October, 2020 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 1:26 pm


Paid (PPC) and organic search (SEO) are the cornerstones of online marketing.

Research shows that visitors who click PPC ads are 50% more likely to convert than organic visitors, yet 49% of marketers report that organic search has the best ROI of any marketing channel.

So, which is the most important? 

We’re constantly asked this, and whether businesses can survive with only one. The truth is that this question misses the point. Well, two points actually. 

Firstly, context matters. What are your business goals? There’s no way of answering this unless you know what you want to achieve. Secondly, why would you have to choose in the first place? While paid and organic media operate differently, they’re both vital to creating a bulletproof digital marketing strategy.

To avoid missed opportunities, let’s dive deep into the strengths and weaknesses of SEO and PPC, and uncover how they complement each other.

PPC and SEO – The same, but different at the same time

PPC and SEO have a lot in common. 

They share goals of showing up in the top search results, and drive traffic to websites that convert.

Where do they differ? In the way they get there.

SEO, the trusted old friend 

SEO, search engine optimization, is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility for relevant search engine page results.

As the trusted companion of marketeers, it builds business’ digital visibility in an organic and cost-effective way. Like a long lasting friendship, SEO takes a while to gain your trust as results are not immediate. When its fruits begin to bear, however, SEOs qualities shine through as something you want to be around all the time.

Your SEO relationship requires serious work, and is kept alive only through quality content that people engage with. Staying in the loop on Google’s algorithm updates also helps your SEO relationship blossom.

SEO, in a nutshell, is your reliable ally for building your brand’s footprint and generating high-quality leads for your sales team. 

PPC, the efficient salesman

PPC (Pay-per-click) adverts are the paid results that show above organic search results. It’s most commonly used for Search Engine Marketing but has been adopted for other types of advertising as well.

PPC ads are designed to reach prospects closer to the decision making stage of a marketing funnel. Unlike SEO, therefore, the relationship to the prospect is generally not as built up.

Given their transactional nature, PPC ads are like efficient salesmen. Ads are conversions in the way that time is money. Their currency is leads and sales, and look to accrue as many as possible before the budget expires.

Since conversions are the name of the PPC game, targeting advertising content is much more effective than organic content. With Google Ads, you’re empowered to monitor success, manage ROI and measure results much easier than with SEO content. 

The strengths and weaknesses of PPC and SEO, therefore, complement each other. Where PPC lacks trust, SEO delivers and where SEO falls short on delivering fast results, PPC will do the trick. Using both will guarantee your success.

How do PPC and SEO work together? 

One of the most effective ways to use these both together is to use data from  PPC campaigns. This gives you valuable insights into your SEO strategy and vice versa.

High-cost keywords can be moved from PPC to organic search in order to stay in the budget without losing important visibility. Additionally, high-converting organic keywords can be moved into paid search to maximize conversions.

As we’ve already established, SEO takes a longer time to see results compared to PPC. Testing your keyword strategy with PPC before committing to a long-term SEO plan can save you a lot of time and grey hair. 

Besides, taking valuable insights like analysing the copy that does well in PPC and turning it into a SEO content will help maximize your exposure in both paid and organic search results. Data from AB testing your ads landing page, copy, keywords, and audience can be all adopted into your SEO strategy.

And not to forget to state the obvious: By dominating both search and organic results, you’ll be able to maximize your visibility and attract more people to your site.

However, that’s not all. Using PPC and SEO together can be also leveraged into your PR strategy.

When dealing with a PR crisis, you need all tools available to control the damage. By using both PPC and SEO you can control and direct the conversation around specific keywords related to your crisis.

Final Thoughts

So can SEO and PPC live without the other? 

Yes, but by separating them, you’re missing out on a flourishing and complementary relationship between the two. They’re functional when separated, yet invincible when put together. 

So instead of choosing one, find a healthy balance between both. That way you can maximize your  brand awareness, traffic, and conversions.