Table of Contents:
  1. The Pros and Cons of SEO & PPC Advertising
  2. What is Pay Per Click Advertising?
  3. What are the Pros and Cons of SEO & PPC Advertising?
  4. SEO Pros
  5. SEO Cons
  6. PPC Advertising Pros
  7. PPC Cons
  8. Conclusion

Figuring out which avenue of advertising to invest in is a tough job nowadays. Depending on the type of business you are a part of, you may want to choose certain methods over others. 

Choosing between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising ultimately depends on your goals and how fast you would like to achieve them. Are you looking to promote a product launch? Are you trying to get more visitors to your website? How about creating more brand awareness around your company? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself and your team before pursuing one or both of these options.

In this article, we will go over the different aspects of each method. May the battle commence!

What is SEO?

the pros and cons of seo and ppc advertising

You may have heard about search engine optimization before, but just in case you haven’t, we will touch upon some of the basics real quick.

SEO is the process of ranking a website organically on Google. These rankings are found by the search engine and determined to be the best result for the search query the user inputted.

By properly optimizing a site for search engines (especially Google) you can achieve top rankings for specific keywords that you want to rank for. These are typically not easily attained but some keywords are more difficult than others. For example, it would be easier to rank for “plumbing services” in a smaller town like Airdrie versus a larger city like Calgary or Edmonton.

These services are provided by SEO specialists and digital marketers. They require quite a bit of time and effort to complete. But we will get more into that later.

If you would like to learn more about SEO, check out our definitive SEO guide.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

PPC advertising consists of purchasing keyword placements from services like Google Ads, or Bing! Ads. The definition is pretty simple and in the name itself. You pay for traffic to your website by purchasing ad placements from specific keywords and paying for every click that your link receives.

Businesses bid on these keywords to determine how much they are willing to pay for the traffic. Some of these keywords can be quite expensive, reaching upwards of $100 per click in some highly competitive and profitable industries.

What are the Pros and Cons of SEO & PPC Advertising?

There are many benefits and disadvantages to each method of marketing. It can be hard for businesses to choose between one or the other – so we have come up with a list of pros and cons for SEO and PPC advertising.

SEO Pros

There are many pros to properly optimizing your website for search engines. It builds authority in your industry, lasts longer than PPC ads, and generally does a better job of grabbing the attention of a searcher versus ads. Let’s go over a few of these factors.

SEO Lasts Longer than PPC

Search engine optimization, when done properly, can leave you with good rankings for years. PPC ads only last as long as you are willing to pay for them. As great as that may be, you can reduce your ad cost by simply ranking in the top 3 for that keyword.

Getting there requires some hard work and dedication. Depending on your target keyword, you can be building up your website’s authority for some time before you truly see some results.

SEO is extremely important for almost any business as statistics show that 80% of the traffic that can be generated for any website will come from search engines.

On top of this, even though ads are at the very top of the search results page, the top-ranking organic result is more likely to be clicked versus an ad placement.

SEO Builds Up Your Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness In Your Industry

Google determines a website’s worth based on a variety of signals built into its algorithm. Some of the most important signals it tracks for every website indexed on the platform are E-A-T signals. These signals comprise your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness within your industry.

In order to be successful at SEO, your business should be sending these signals to Google to prove that you are a titan in your industry that towers over your average competitors. A true thought leader, and the number one choice for consumers searching for your services.

Becoming a thought leader in your industry requires your business to build up a repertoire of different pages that are built around your E-A-T signals. Starting a blog to express new and innovative ideas is a great place to start, but there are other ways to build up your signals as well, such as link building.

Want to learn more about this method? You can check out our link building guide here.

SEO Cons

As with any marketing medium, there are cons to SEO as well. It’s keen to note that no advertising method is perfect and will always have some sort of flaw. SEO can take longer to achieve results, and some companies flat out scam other businesses or use outdated techniques that can ultimately harm your website in the long run. Let’s go over a few of these factors.

It Takes Longer To Get Results

SEO may last longer than PPC ads, but organic rankings are not achieved overnight. There is currently no way to buy a top organic spot directly from Google or any other major search engine. You have to build up your site, make sure it’s relevant to the topic and is properly optimized to show Google that you are the correct pick.

Generally, most SEO experts suggest employing an SEO strategy over a 12-month period. Doing SEO over a 3 or 6-month time span will lead to very few results compared to one year. Most businesses don’t see instant results, and only 5.7% of pages rank in the top 10 for at least one keyword within a year of publishing.

Some Companies Don’t Know What They Are Doing

This one is super important. A lot of the companies out there selling SEO services are either using outdated methods or just plain don’t know what they are doing. Scammers and white-label SEO agencies have been giving the industry a bad name since the beginning of Google’s inception.

Every single year Google advances its algorithm to be better at understanding human search trends and behaviors. It has grown to become an extremely smart program that can see discrepancies, shift rankings, and form decisions based on these findings without the need for human analysis.

Simply put, the old techniques of the early 2000s and 2010s just won’t work on Google anymore. And believe it or not, there are still many companies selling cheap tricks to business owners to make a quick buck.

This is why you should always research the company you are looking to purchase services from and ask for reports from previous campaigns to see how well they did with previous clients. On top of this, these reports could be misleading, so use your due diligence to pursue the facts for yourself and see if they are telling the truth.

PPC Advertising Pros

Pay per click advertising can be used for a number of reasons and can greatly benefit your business if done correctly. After all, in 2019, 70.9% of Google’s revenue came from advertising, so they must be doing something right over there.

PPC ads can be used to increase product sales or promote limited-time deals, bring in a certain demographic or targeted audience, and bring in traffic when your site isn’t built for SEO purposes yet.

Instant ROI

After you “hit go” on your first campaign you will find out whether the campaign is working in a matter of days. Ads can shoot you to the top of any keyword search for a certain price. Does it always result in your company doing well? Definitely not.

Just because someone clicks on your ad doesn’t mean they are going to buy your product or service. For higher value keywords, you need to make sure your website is capable of taking a lead and turning them into a sale. 

Building a proper funnel takes time and money. It also requires a lot of testing, so make sure your website is ready to take on an influx of visitors looking for your product or service.

Promoting Limited-Time Sales & Offers

If you are running a sale on your goods and services, PPC advertising is a great way to get customers’ feet in the door to check out the savings. Ranking a sales page might take days or weeks before it actually shows up in search results. It’s suggested that you invest a few dollars in PPC ads to make the most out of your promotions.

When Your Website Has Little To No SEO

Websites that need to start making money right away but have little to no SEO strength are recommended to invest a few dollars from their budget on ads. 

Create a basic funnel and do some minor testing and you’re good to go! Hopefully, your keyword isn’t highly competitive and you can get a decent price for it. 

This can help give you enough revenue from products or services that you sell to start investing in a proper SEO strategy.

PPC Cons

Pay per click campaigns come with their own share of difficulties and problems. Some of these problems can result in your business losing a ton of money in unneeded expenses. It’s good to know wat you’re walking into and how to prepare if anything does go wrong in your campaign. Here are our top cons of PPC advertising.

PPC Can Be Very Expensive

Some industries have it better than others when it comes to the cost of their target keywords. However, insurance, finance, law, and credit industries have a massive cost per click. Some of these keywords can reach a CPC of $50-$100 while others can reach an absolutely ludicrous amount like $1,090 per click for long-tail keywords such as “houston maritime attorney”.

Houston Maritime Attorney

This image shows the importance of SEO versus a strictly PPC based strategy. This keyword is actually easy to rank in the top 3 results with proper optimization, and can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Hopefully, your business isn’t part of this group. If you do happen to own a business in one of these industries, take a good look at your budget and determine what the smartest route is and how you can maybe cut down on these costs a bit. 

There are a ton of keywords to choose from, do your research, and find the best opportunity for your business to make a few bucks without overspending.

PPC Doesn’t Work Well for Building Authority In Your Industry

If you are known as the company that spams ads in everyone’s faces all the time, they may grow to resent you. If you don’t put any work into building the authority of your business online, your consumer may not respect you. 

Again, this comes down to your industry and your target audience, but in order to become a thought leader and a resonant voice for your industry, you have to use other methods of marketing. 

Of course, once you have built up your website, you can use PPC to back this up appropriately.

You Can Become Subject To Click Fraud

Some businesses practice scummy practices such as click fraud, which can cost your business THOUSANDS of dollars if left unchecked. It is crucial to keep an eye on every PPC campaign you have running to catch fraud early on. Luckily, Google keeps track of these things as well. If you are reluctant enough to experience click fraud, you can talk to Google to get your money back and they will conduct an investigation to determine if click fraud is to blame.


Both SEO and PPC are fantastic marketing tools that you can use to greatly increase your revenue and your business’ reputation. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages that you need to be aware of so that you can make the right decision when coming up with your marketing strategy.

No matter which route you choose, it will require proper planning, research, and execution to achieve the results you want for your business. This can be a tough job, and sometimes requires the expertise of a company that knows their stuff.

Go Top Shelf can help you reach your goals and set you up for success using modern and innovative SEO techniques. We are constantly improving our strategies to provide clients with the right results they are looking for. If you have any questions feel free to contact us by phone or email. We are happy to help!

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