SEO vs. PPC: Which one is better?


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) are likely to be two terms you have heard a lot of when it comes down to digital marketing. They are both methods you can employ within your content and marketing strategies to drive better reach for your website and online presence.

SEO is how you can get more traffic to your website from “natural” search results on search engines. It requires an understanding of how you can optimise your website, and the content on it, as well as the algorithms popular search engines use, to help your website rank higher on search results. The ultimate goal is for your site to rank number one on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

PPC is how you can get more traffic to your website by running ads, which show on search engines, but only pay for if they are clicked. It requires an understanding of keywords (the words and terms people are likely to use when searching for your school, or schools in your area) and how to set up and optimise your adverts.

Both SEO and PPC have an incredibly relevant place within your school marketing, but which one is better? Which one yields a greater return of your investment in both time and money? Let’s review.


Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.
— Wendy Piersall

SEO is very much about the long game, what you get right today can have lasting effects tomorrow. You cannot, and must not, approach SEO with the idea that you’ll reap the benefits immediately (it simply does not work that way). It will take time to build your equity with Google, Bing, Yahoo, and whoever your audience are using to search with. But when it is there and working for you, it will ensure sustained traffic and consistency.

A little tweak here and there, as Google and others inevitable change their search algorithms, will keep you on top in the long-term. To help you get started with this, here are 10 SEO tips for the latest algorithms running on popular search engines (as of late 2018).


Sometimes you have to experiment with a lot of ideas and see which one sticks. If you’re unsure, let the market decide
— Dorie Clark

PPC can give you desirable results fast! It can be the best way to attain an immediate return on your investment. The moment you finalise your PPC campaign set-up it will be live and displaying on your audiences’ search pages (provided your bids are competitive enough to achieve this).

PPC can have great effect in driving people to your page around specific events, open days for example, or key admissions dates. This is especially true when you take targeting into account with PPC. It becomes much easier to aim your campaigns towards people of certain demographics, such as: age range, gender, income bracket, education level, and lots more.

The last important factor with PPC is where it ranks on search pages (again, this is dependent on whether or not you are bidding enough to dominate particular keyword categories). PPC results are displayed above organic search results. Since around 50% of search traffic goes to the top 3 sponsored links, on average, you can imagine that this puts your PPC ads in a very prominent position.

What have we learnt?

Both SEO and PPC have their uses. SEO is about consistent, long-term goals and PPC is more about immediate and impactful marketing. The question becomes which result do you need the most?

Really, there is no better undertaking as what you use them both for can differ quite significantly. However, there is little reason to only rely on one!

SEO meets PPC

Combining the two can create a far stronger digital marketing strategy. Benefits of a SEO-PPC combination include:

  • Data taken from PPC campaigns can be fed into organic search SEO. In other words, the keyword and conversion data from successful/unsuccessful campaigns should help inform the keywords you use for SEO.

  • Keywords that require a higher cost, which may even be outside your budget, can be moved across to organic search (SEO). This won’t have the immediate effect PPC does, but will help you compete against rivalling PPC campaigns in the long-term.

  • You can use remarketing techniques to follow up with people who clicked your PPC ad but perhaps did not convert. This can lead to a more organic ‘sale’.

  • Test your keyword strategy in PPC before committing to long-term SEO strategies.

  • Increase confidence, and build greater reach and awareness by having both strong organic and paid visibility.

So what do you think, will you be employing these into your marketing? Both can produce a great return on investment if done well! As ever, trial and error should be the guiding philosophy to getting it right.

Any thoughts on this topic? Please comment below.