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How Is Ranking Different When Comparing PPC vs SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) are two common marketing strategies used to drive traffic to your website. While both of them help you reach the same goal of increasing your website’s visibility and increasing conversion, the way they achieve that is different.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the commonly asked question: how is ranking different when comparing PPC vs SEO? We will discuss the major ranking differences and how ranking in a PPC ad differs from ranking in SEO with our recommendation on creating a mixed strategy to get the maximum visibility for your business overall.

Comparison Of Ranking In SEO & PPC - Summary

ppc vs seo ranking differences

In a nutshell, PPC ad rankings are instant but short-lived while SEO rankings are achieved over time but can be sustained for a long time. With an optimised Google bid – your product will be available on the first page of SERPs immediately to be served to the visitors but only for as long as you are paying for that rank. While with organic search, you will maybe take months to get that top spot but once it is attained, it will be there for upcoming times. Let’s go deep into the ranking differences:

1: Longevity Of The Rankings

PPC boasts an instant and fast-paced hike in your business’ sales. The good thing about PPC is that you only have to pay for the clicks you get on your landing page and not otherwise. But on the hind side,  your ad presents on the SERP results as long as you provide the required budgeting and the traffic will abruptly end if you shut down the ad campaign. So you must have continuously invested in the ad campaign to get the results.
Whereas, SEO rankings, take months to acheive but once attained, can be sustained without proper budget investment every month until a competitor overtakes your audience (difficult to happen) or the algorithm changes hit your website. In both of these cases, you would need little effort to attain your position back if you detect the changes. Meanwhile, you can lower the budget or use it for another medium instead. This is probably why
70% of marketers consider SEO more effective than PPC for getting leads.

2: Returns On Investment

Let’s compare the long-term results of ranking for keywords organically vs with paid ads considering an equal conversion rate. The overall conversion price is much lower for SEO than PPC.  It is important to understand here that both provide different types of benefits in terms of returns. PPC ads are mostly placed on transactional and commercial keywords which may have a higher percentage conversion, but it requires a higher budget than organic SEO. On the other hand, SEO boasts persistent results. Once you have built the authority and have achieved top rankings in SERP, even if you decide to reduce your active SEO efforts, your website organic traffic can be sustained cutting the cost of high-end optimisation, you needed at the start. 

ppc vs seo - return on investment

P.S: CTR is not necessarily equivalent to ROI as the quality and relevance of ad copy and web page content also play a pivotal role in determining the ROI. Here’s a six-month cost comparison of SEO vs PPC traffic by Saga Pixel SEO to understand our point better.

3: Credibility and Branding

Many users prioritize organic search results over Google Ads due to uncertainties around the credibility of businesses paying for ad placement. Human psychology often associates organic rankings with earned merit, viewing them as more deserving of top positions, while PPC is seen as simply buying visibility. This perception fuels a preference for SEO-ranked results. However, this does not apply to all businesses; in certain cases, e-commerce products achieve success through PPC ads displayed alongside organic results. Trust and reliability often become crucial parameters, particularly when choosing services over products. Despite PPC’s effectiveness in driving traffic, some users still lean towards organic search results. This preference enhances conversion rates and contributes to a more favourable long-term brand reputation.

What is The Difference Between SEO and PPC Ranking Factors?

Ranking factors refer to the elements used by search engines like Google to determine the relevance and ranking of a website or advertisement in search results.

As we discussed earlier, SEO takes long-term work to exhibit results, a reason for that is that SEO requires many other factors like determining keywords, content writing, website optimization and link building into action. Creating an ad campaign involves finding the right keywords for bidding, setting bid prices, and creating a keyword-optimized landing page that engages the audience and encourages them to convert.

Pay Per Click
The ad’s landing page
The website content
The keywords used in the ad
The website structure
The ad’s click-through rate (CTR)
The quality of backlinks to the website
The advertiser website’s reputation
The relevance of keywords used in website content
The aid bid's amount
The overall user experience of the website

How Long It To Rank For PPC Vs SEO?

It can take months before your rankings pick up. Google is evaluating your site against all currently-ranking results, as well as any newly emerging content, so the process is slower. However, organic SEO rankings last longer. If the content is high-quality, Google will push it further up in rankings as time goes on, even if you don’t do anything to further optimize it. PPC rankings, on the other hand, come as soon as you set up the ad campaigns, bid for the keyword and add the product or page to show up in the ad. Your ad will appear in the top 10,  first page, or pages 2,3,4 of the SERP depending on the bids and relevancy of the keywords targeted,. Google algorithm shows your ad to the best of the keywords and relevant searches to enhance the impressions and click on the ad leading to good revenue for both the advertiser and Google. This surge in visibility off as soon as you end a PPC campaign or the budget is consumed.

PPC Or SEO: Which One Is More Measurable And Quantifiable?

The results of a PPC campaign can be tracked using the Google ad tracking tool. It gives you real-time insights on the KPIs like conversions, click-through rates, and return on investment that you need to assess how your ad is performing. 

On the SEO front, success is measured with long-term facets, such as organic traffic, keyword rankings, impressions, backlink profiles and other performance indicators. However, these factors are observed over a longer period and it is harder to quantify the impact of each month’s investments. Here PPC takes a point for easy budget management and measurable results for than SEO.

seo vs pcc - whose results are more measurable

Creating A Balance Ranking Strategy

Organic SEO is favoured by many web searchers, for the multi-fold benefits of ranking organically. Reaching the top rankings requires you to fit in almost 200 Google ranking factors. Google uses concepts like E.A.T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) to rank the best and most reliable businesses. Thus, your business will most likely get the customer’s trust. 

On the other hand, PPC campaigns offer highly targeted reach to the visitors interested in your services/products. Though this requires a higher budget, getting higher leads to an even higher CTR makes it worth a shot.

For any business owner, it’s always suggested to never “put all your eggs in one basket”. SEO or PPC is highly subjective to your business niche and product’s demand. An ad for Italian food in the town is more worth it for the best financial advisor in the town, for example. For a general rule of thumb, start with an SEO campaign first because it involves multiple tasks & requires time to grow and you can join your PPC campaign when you start getting results. The sales and budget also play a huge role in determining the preferences. However, focusing on SEO while carefully using PPC is the best approach.