PPC vs. SEO? Why Both are Important to Your Search Engine Rankings

February 20, 2023

To go organic, or non-organic—that is the question. And no, we’re not talking about your next grocery shopping list; instead, we’re covering your search engine rankings and choosing the most appropriate way to improve them for your business.

Both PPC and SEO are valuable tools for getting traffic to your website. However, which one you choose to prioritize will depend on your budget and what specific goals you’re hoping to achieve with your digital presence.

Typically, the first step in deciding between the two is with a proper SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis. Let’s cover that now.

How Do I Perform a SERP analysis?

Before embarking on whether to prioritize your SEO strategy or investing in PPC, you’ll want to perform some quality keyword research. SEO platform Mangools describes it this way:

“SERP analysis is a process of looking at the top-ranking web pages in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) in order to evaluate whether or not the particular keyword you want to rank for is relevant and to determine how hard it would be to outrank your competitors.”

By checking things like keyword relevancy (is the keyword easy to include organically within your website’s text or blog?), ranking against competitors, and ranking opportunities, you’ll begin to understand whether or not you need to invest in paid search tools that get you to the top of the search engine results page.

Results of a keyword search on the website ahrefs.com
Results of a keyword search for “search engine results page” on the website ahrefs.com

Steps to Follow for Your SERP analysis:


  • Perform keyword research to find a list of relevant keywords, phrases, and questions for your niche
  • Determine keyword relevancy to see if the keywords you’ve selected still match a user’s search intent and remain relevant to your business
  • Analyze competitors using your desired keywords to determine how difficult it might be to outrank them based on their domain authority
  • Check other opportunities for keywords in the SERP, like Google’s featured snippets, “People Also Ask” dropdowns, or related searches
  • Stay on top of the SERP by tracking changes in your positioning or trends in user search intent

Completing these steps at the outset will help you determine where to focus and what your spend may be for any complementary PPC efforts. If you need any help with your keyword research, relevancy, or opportunities along the way, don’t hesitate to contact us to unleash our SEO experts for a comprehensive website analysis.

If I’m Already Using SEO Strategy, Why Use PPC?

If you’re asking this question, that likely means you’ve historically seen PPC and SEO as two competing strategies. And in fact, they may be for you, depending on your goals. To get there, let’s go through the following questions to see if you should sacrifice one for the other, or if you can use both as complementary tools. 

  1. Are you a newer company or brand looking to gain traction online?
  2. Do you expect to play the long game when it comes to attracting loyal customers?
  3. Will you need to provide consistent results to your leadership team?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you’ll want to prioritize your SEO efforts. SEO remains the preferred technique for when you want to build authority with your website and show consistent results for your organic keywords to your management team.

Now for the next batch of questions.

  1. Do you need to promote an event or limited-time promotion?
  2. Are you pushing for mass lead generation ahead of your next initiative?
  3. Do you want more control over what users see and in testing your ads?

If any of these questions came with a “yes”, you’ll want to start working on your PPC advertising. Investing a budget towards a PPC campaign will offer you benefits that include top-of-the-page rankings, ads pushed in front of people in demographics or locations you select, and instant results that you can report on.

How Do I Get PPC and SEO Working Together in 2023?

As you can see, there are times when you’ll need to make a choice between PPC vs. SEO. However, modern digital marketing also offers ways to get both strategies working together to increase your domain authority while also generating more leads at a quicker pace than going pure organic.

Short Term Gains, Long Term Rewards

Perhaps the single biggest difference between PPC and SEO highlighted above is time. However, you can use the advantages of both to your own advantage. Depending on how generous your PPC budget is, you can build a one-time campaign and use its keyword research and conversion results to inform your long-term SEO efforts.

Test What You Want to Test

Because of the longer timespan, it’s not always feasible to test out your keyword analysis using SEO and organic search results. PPC offers a great environment for A/B testing copy, landing pages, CTAs, and more. From there, you can use the insights from these tests to optimize your long-term content.

Remarket to Your Undecided Crowd

You’ve found the keywords that pull in your audience organically, but now you’re having difficulty getting them to convert. Many PPC campaigns allow you the option to retarget and pinpoint these potential customers on social media or even in their email inbox by using data to identify their location, demographic information, and more.


Brandography Can Help You Prioritize PPC vs. SEO

We hope that by explaining the unique features of PPC and SEO, you’ve been able to determine which to use in order to drive more traffic to your website. By going over the steps for a SERP analysis, identifying your current goals, and looking at some ways to get PPC and SEO working together, you should feel empowered enough to put these tools to work for you.

However, as with any marketing tool, there may be some pitfalls if you don’t use them just right. Things like keyword stuffing and duplicated content with SEO or hitting too many channels or landing pages with your PPC ads will do more harm than good, no matter how innocent the mistake.

We’re ready to help at Brandography with any step along the way. Whether that’s long-term strategy or an audit for your website, targeted Search Engine Optimization and marketing, getting a start with your first PPC campaign, or optimizing your Search Engine Marketing in general, our cutting-edge subject matter experts know how to help. Let us know what you need with a free consultation today!

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