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What is the difference between SEO and PPC?

3 minute read

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I answer the #asktheukdomain question “What is the difference between SEO and PPC?”, asked by Adam at silverbees.net. In this video I look at the difference between SEO and PPC by explaining what SEO and PPC stand for and what the advantages and disadvantages of each are.

The main difference between SEO and PPC is that SEO (search engine optimisation) is a set of practices to help gain ‘free traffic’ and improve how you appear in search engines. While PPC (pay per click) is the practice of paying to appear in those search engines including within Google Search and the Google Display Network.

I’ll also look at the pros and cons of each including:

SEO:

  • Free traffic
  • Relevant visitors
  • Evergreen (time and effort put in now could still help in the long term)
  • Time consuming
  • Needs knowledge so may require an expert
  • No guarantees

PPC (pay-per-click):

  • More control (position/advert copy)
  • Clear ROI
  • Access to lots of data
  • Can be expensive
  • Requires constant maintenance
  • Hard to target low volume keywords
  • Can be very competitive

Find more helpful tips and interesting articles on SEO and PPC in our dedicated category or learn more about another SEO practice, on page SEO in one of my other videos here.

Video Transcript

♪ [music] ♪ Hello, and welcome to The UK Domain. Today’s question comes from Adam at Silverbees.net. And he asks, “What’s the difference between SEO and PPC?” So first, I’m going to explain what SEO and PPC actually stand for.

SEO stands for search engine optimisation. So this is a set of practices that you can take on to improve how you appear on the search engines. And then pay-per-click is very similar to that but it’s basically paying to appear on the search engines. So I’ll start off by explaining a bit about search engine optimisation and the benefits.

So essentially, it’s free traffic so you’re not actually paying every time somebody clicks on your ad. It does take quite a lot of time obviously to set up and you may need some help from a freelancer or agency, so that’s why it could actually cost you a bit of money. But it’s evergreen content. So any time and effort you put in now could continue to help you out in years to come, so you could still be getting traffic without having to pay any extra. You’re also likely to get very relevant users. So Google is very good at understanding what somebody searched for and then grouping that search to some content that’s relevant. So if somebody does land on your website, it’s likely that they’re very, very relevant visitors.

Some of the disadvantages are, it can be very time consuming, it requires a lot of knowledge as well so it might need the help from an expert, and there are actually no guarantees. So if somebody tells you that they guarantee you to number one in Google, you shouldn’t really listen to them because nobody can guarantee that.

Moving on to pay-per-click. So this includes search within Google Search but also the Google Display Network as well. So the Google Display Network is basically lots and lots of different websites who have agreed to include ads on their websites, and you can decide the kind of topics that you want to include your ads in.

So the benefits of pay-per-click is that you have a lot more control over the ads that are appearing. So you can decide on the ad copy, like the title, the description, or even the image if you’re in the Google Display Network. The more you pay the higher up you’re going to appear is technically how it works. You’ve got a very clear return on investment as well. So you know that if you’ve set a goal which is somebody is going to sign up for a credit card and you know that you’ve spent four pounds to get them into your website and they convert, that gives you a very clear idea of how much it cost you to get your conversion.

You can also look at lots of data. So how many people actually clicked on the ad, how many impressions you got, which is how many people technically saw your ad even if they didn’t click on it. And then the click-through rate. So if they did see your ad, how many of them actually went on to click it?

Some of the disadvantages are it can be very, very expensive particularly in certain industries. Also you need constant maintenance. So you need to keep tweaking the account making sure that you’re not paying for any ads or any keywords that aren’t relevant to your website. It can also be harder to target lower search volume keywords because Google just decides that it won’t show them because there aren’t enough people searching for that term, and it can be very competitive.

But ideally, it’s great if you’re appearing in both SEO and PPC. So I hope that answers your question. Thank you. ♪ [music] ♪

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Sam Gooch is Web Optimisation Lead at the UK Domain. Sam leads the online search strategy, combining both organic and paid advertising to drive awareness around our brands and content, helping small businesses to succeed online.

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