Data Driven Marketing

How does PPC perform against SEO?

In this article we discuss how PPC performs against SEO and Social Media. We explain what you can expect from each type of marketing over time. You will learn how to get the most value for your money.

How does PPC perform against SEO and Social?

There is no single answer because PPC does not drive organic search traffic. It adds to organic search traffic.

Broadly, PPC does exactly what it says on the tin. you pay for every click on an advertisement.

In its simplest form, whether it’s Google Ads, Facebook or LinkedIn, you pay for every click taking a viewer from your ad to your landing page. What they do when they get there is up to the persuasive powers of the landing page.

You can also target conversions, where for example a form is filled out or a shopping basket submitted.

SEO helps to position your web site high up in the Google rankings for your product or service. It requires you to optimise your web site to  make it easy for the search engines to index and for humans to navigate.

Social media marketing in its purest form drives traffic to the web site by posting engaging content in a few carefully chosen channels.

SEO vs Social Media vs. PPC

How does PPC perform against SEO
SEO vs Social vs PPC Performance Over Time

This graph is an impression based on our experience. It assumes the same length of time is spent on each method, and demonstrates the efficiency with which viewers are attracted to a landing page. We’ll go into the detail and the many variables later.

Over a period of twelve months, PPC returns near instant results and will achieve a higher return. It is however significantly more expensive as you have to pay for the ads as well as the time spent devising them. The dip in the SEO graph represents the effect of changes in the Google quality algorithm.

Two variables are absent from this graph. Quality of audience and Purpose of web site. Lets talk about the purpose of the site first.

What’s the Purpose of your Web Site?

All web sites need to attract viewers. But a blog has a different requirement to a Web Commerce site. A blog simply need readers and it needs returning readers to drive revenue from advertising displayed on the site, which brings us to Quality of Audience. The answer to all of these questions is often all three solutions, but in different proportions.


An E-Commerce site needs to convert customers and so the question of intent is important. Ideally you want to attract viewers who are intending to buy a product such as yours. They are drawn to your site because you are selling the product they want and your site comes up in the search results either organically or via a well targeted ad.

We believe PPC is the best solution for E-Commerce because it starts to work almost immediately. Managed well, it will drive increasing numbers of viewers to your site with either the intent to buy or at least to compare your product to somebody else. (Consideration).

We use the concept of a sales funnel in PPC campaigns, Awareness is the top of the funnel, Consideration a mid point and Sales the sharp end. The numbers get fewer as you move down the funnel but your chances of converting get higher as these viewers are more focused.


A web site selling services needs to generate leads. How do you capture leads? In two ways. By having an offering so strong that viewers email you or phone you to book the service, or more typically, by exchanging useful information for their e-mail address so that you can establish a list of viewers who positively disposed towards you and are at least considering purchasing a service such as the one you are offering.

We recommend a mixture of SEO and PPC for these types of site. The reason is that SEO drives awareness in a more cost efficient way than PPC. SEO drives increased amounts of organic traffic without users being nudged by an advertisement. This depends very much on the product and on the style of advertising. Subjectively, we feel that if viewers discover the site unprompted, they will value the experience more than if they perceive the site as a well honed sales machine.


Web sites hosting portfolios or selling a high end, expensive, once in a blue moon purchases such as bathrooms and kitchens are usually represented as Brochures – they invest in high end graphics and images and will often rely on social media and SEO to draw a steady stream of enquiries. I would add here that portfolio sites for artists should avoid PPC like the plague. There are exceptions, but fine art relies on the integrity of the artist and unless the ad campaign is itself a work of art, better to avoid.

Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing Methods


This method relies on people being drawn to your web site by content placed on social media feeds. You choose the platform to focus on based on the whereabouts of your target audience.


  • Cheap
  • Achievable
  • Reliable
  • Convertible


  • Takes a long time to pick up
  • Grows slowly


Pay per click based on clickthroughs from Ads placed on Google Search, Dispsay or Video. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have equivalent schemes.


  • Quick to take off
  • Very effective (done well)
  • Delivers massive reach


  • Expensive – you pay per click and fro the time it takes to devise, monitor and tweak the campaigns.
  • It’s bought traffic at the end of the day. May not be appropriate for certain sites depending on integrity as a differentiator.
  • Very complicated.


All web sites should be optimised for search engines from the off. This is not the end of SEO though.. The next phase is content creation, devised with keywords in mind. Research key topics relevant to the theme and write new posts covering the gaps.


  • Effective at attracting an interested audience
  • Will help give your site structure, focus and purpose.


  • There are two phases – technical SEO which means fixing problems on the site and content creation
  • Takes a long time to build momentum


I hope this gives a flavour of what is involved in these types of digital marketing. The answer to the apparently simple question “How does PPC perform against SEO and Social” is not straightforward because in many businesses all these methods will be effective. Some of this is achievable without professional help, some isn’t.

We would definitely recommend seeking help with SEO and PPC in particular as both have a deep technical element and in the case of PPC, getting it wrong will be expensive.

We are more than happy to talk through your options in detail. Everyone will have their own requirements, there is no one size fits all solution. Give us a call for a free assessment of your own requirements. We’re happy to offer advice. Or write to us through the form on the Contact page.

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Further Reading

How to do Effective, Data Driven Digital Marketing

What is Technical SEO

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