To PPC or SEO. That is the question. And it’s a valid one at that. The reality is that many marketers find themselves torn between the two. While your hope is to utilize both PPC and SEO to your full advantage, chances are you still have to make the choice to invest in one or the other.

Both PPC and SEO can provide an excellent return on investment. But because every business is unique, simply choosing one or the other isn’t quite that simple. Below are five things you should consider when deciding between PPC or SEO.

Let’s begin!

1. What goals do you have?

What goals do you have for your online marketing campaign?

It’s common for marketers to jump into creating a campaign because they believe it will drive traffic to their site. However, many don’t take the time to identify their goals and build a campaign around them. If your campaign goals don’t align with your business needs, you might as well toss money out the window.

In general, these are the types of goals that marketers have when starting campaigns:

  • Outrank competitors

  • Increase sales

  • Boost reputation

  • Improve rankings

The best goals are related to your business and link back to online marketing. For instance, if you want to get your name out there, you should be using social media to build relationships – not PPC or SEO. On the other hand, increased sales is a business goal and it relates to online marketing. Therefore, boosting sales is a great goal to have when starting a campaign.

2. How much are your customers worth over time?

Another element you should look at is the lifetime value (LTV) of your customers. This will help you determine if PPC is a worthwhile investment. In general, PPC works best when the customer LTV is high. This is because each click costs money.

Estimate what the LTV of a new customer would be as well as your operating costs. So if you estimate that a new customer would have a LTV of $100 but your operating costs are $70, you are essentially making $30 off each new customer. If it turns out that PPC will cost an average of $40 per customer, this means that PPC would not be a good fit. If you were to run a PPC campaign, you would be paying $10 a customer!

SEO, on the other hand, is a better pick when you have a low customer LTV with a high volume.

3. How much do you want to spend on the campaign?

It’s always important to define what you want to spend. Even though you have to spend some to make some, you don’t need to go overboard and blow your hard-earned dollars on a marketing strategy that doesn’t work. Know what you can afford and stick to it.

One word of caution here, though. You can’t put out low-ball numbers and expect to see huge results. You get out what you put in. On average, a good SEO campaign costs around $2,000 to $4,000, while PPC falls around the $7,500 range.

While the above numbers are rough estimates, they give you a good idea of what it costs to have a decent campaign. In the end, you must be willing to spend some money to get the results you’re looking for.

4. When would you like to see results?

When you hope to see results also plays a role in whether PPC or SEO is a better fit. True SEO takes time. You won’t see results overnight or even within a few weeks. Generally, it takes around 3 to 6 months for things to really get going, and you will see positive changes well after that. SEO is a longer term strategy, but it continues to provide results.

PPC can be set up in an afternoon. It can start giving you results within a day. If you’re in a hurry to see some results, PPC is the better option. Remember, though, that these quick results come with a cost. Leads from PPC cost a lot more than leads from SEO.

Since SEO takes longer and PPC provides immediate results, many marketers use PPC to drive quick results and then fall back on the longer and more dependable SEO.

5. What types of resources do you plan on using?

A final point to consider is the types of resources that you have available to you. If you look long and hard, you will probably find that you have plenty of resources you can use to your advantage without having to tap into your marketing budget.

For instance, what can your employees bring to your marketing campaign? Do you have some staff members that can generate content for your company? Monitor your social media pages? When everyone contributes, it allows you to improve your SEO, boost your reputation and pick up extra organic leads without having to spend additional money.


PPC and SEO do not have to be separate strategies. In fact, they are best utilized when they are both included in a single marketing campaign. The key is to invest your budget into the one that will give you the most bang for your buck. If you need fast results and have a high customer LTV, PPC is the way to go. If you can wait on your results and have a low LTV, then a strong SEO strategy is ideal. A best case scenario, of course, is to leverage both strategies so that you get the best of both worlds.