PPC Or SEO – Which Comes First?

PPC Or SEO – Which Comes First?

This article will teach you:

  • What is SEO
  • What is PPC
  • How Much Does SEO Cost
  • How Much Does PPC Cost
  • The Pros and Cons of SEO vs. PPC
  • Which Comes First – PPC or SEO

A Lot Of People Are Wondering Which Comes First, PPC or SEO. Let’s Go Over Some Basics First Before We cover That

The success of every website depends on many factors, including a strong digital marketing strategy. There are many ways to increase your brand identity, get more traffic, more leads and conversions, but the two most widely used methods are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). Before we talk about PPC or SEO, which comes first, let’s take a look at what these two are, and how they work.

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, refers to the practice or process of getting relevant traffic to your website through free (organic) search results in the search engines.

The goal is to get your website on page 1 of Google, above your competition.

Some Key Points To Remember About SEO Are:

• It is an ongoing process, not a one-time investment. Depending on the nature of your business and how competitive it is, it may take some time before you see the fruits of your SEO Specialist’s labor.
• It takes hard work and much time spent on revisions to make sure the content you provide is excellent, not just ordinary. One of the goals of your content is to attract new prospects to your website and eventually convert them into clients. In order to achieve this, your content must be findable! This is where good SEO comes in.
• SEO can bring you a healthy return on your investment, provided your SEO Specialist knows what they are doing and are honest enough to do it.

How Much Does Good SEO Cost?

Good SEO, search engine optimization that actually gets your website to show up on page 1 of Google depends on several factors; How competitive is the search term you want to rank for? Where do you rank for it now- page 1 or page 20? How much SEO has been done on your website already? Was it effective?

Let’s say you are a personal injury attorney with an office in NYC. Your website is found on page 4 of Google in a search for “Personal Injury Attorney NYC”.

“Page 4 is the equivalent of Timbuktu: even the camels don’t know where you are.”

This means your website SEO is severely lacking. If it were a car accident- your car would be totaled, put it that way. This particular search term is highly competitive because, for one, a personal injury case can bring a lawfirm a settlement well in excess of a million dollars. If you want to play with the big boys, you have to pay.

Your SEO cost to rank for a search term like Personal Injury Attorney NYC could be as high as $60,000. Ideally, you would spread this out over a year at $5,000 / month for basically a full-time SEO Torpedo.

Can You Guarantee A Result?

Yes, of sorts. Meaning that if you make this kind of investment into SEO, your site should absolutely move up in the search results- but THERE IS NO GUARANTEE ABOUT THE EXACT POSITION IT WILL MOVE TO.

There are, of course, cheaper plans available. The downside is they may take longer to work, if at all. The moral of this story: you won’t get a decent Filet Mignon at Burger King prices.

What Is Pay Per Click (PPC)?

Pay Per Click in Digital Marketing

PPC refers to the ads you see at the top of the page, and sometimes the bottom, any time you do a search on Google.

Pay Per Click advertising also referred to as PPC, is a marketing practice aimed at getting highly motivated prospects to convert. It is oriented towards getting fast results.

Advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. In simple terms, PPC is a way to buy yourself right to the top of the homepage of Google and reap the rewards – fast.

When you run a PPC campaign, you are essentially competing with other advertisers in a keyword bid to get your ad shown above theirs. Successful bids depend on various factors including click-through rate, the quality of your landing page, your keywords, competition, your targeted audience, etc.

Key points to remember about PPC are:

  1. PPC is reliant on SEO for its success.
  2. Contrary to what some may believe, setting up a beneficial PPC campaign requires a lot of planning and effort.
  3. PPC usually gets highly motivated visitors to your website.
  4. PPC costs are generally broken down into two categories; the cost for the ads and the cost you pay to have your account managed. Google has quality factors it uses to rate your PPC ad campaigns, and if you meet their expectations, you can actually reduce your cost per click.
  5. With PPC, you can measure success through Return on Investment (ROI)
  6. If a PPC campaign isn’t converting, 99% of the time a poorly designed landing page is the problem.
  7. With PPC, you have complete control over your ad spend. You need to ensure a fine balance between your landing page and the bid budget. If you have an excellent landing page but bid too little, you may not get on page 1 of search results and will not get the expected ROI.

There is a downside to hiring some PPC ad managers. Some are unscrupulous and don’t tell you what their fee is versus your ad spend. You may end up paying $5,000/ month for $1,000 worth of ads! This is obscene.

Another possible downside of hiring a crooked PPC Ad Manager / SEO is a scam where they intentionally keep your organic search results off of page 1 of Google in order to bilk you for more PPC money. The idea is if your website shows up on page 2 or 3 because your SEO is not up to par, your PPC spend will go up to compensate for this.

What Does PPC Cost?

Let’s take the search term “personal injury lawyer NYC” as an example. Google lists the high-end bids for this at $109 cost per click. This means that 10 clicks on your ad would cost you over $1,000. Depending on the quality of your website/landing page/offer, you may generate phone calls to your office and set up consultations from this.

PPC is an ongoing process of constantly monitoring and improving your ads and offers. There is no guarantee as to what will make a prospect pull the trigger and make the call. The biggest takeaway from PPC advertising is that a person clicking on an ad for a personal injury attorney is most likely looking to hire one immediately, they aren’t doing a science project.

So Which Comes First, The SEO Or The PPC?

At iDesignYours, during the course of doing business, we sometimes get asked this question.

It depends on what part of the process you are up to at the moment

If you don’t have a website and need a new one, you will need to start off with SEO, before you ever write a word of content for the site. Yes, you read it right.

“Keyword Research is the website equivalent of an architect’s blueprint for a house. It is finished long before the first brick is ever laid”

If You don’t do keyword research first, before writing the content for your site, you’ll have to revise it later, accordingly.

seo structure

SEO comes first in the instance of designing a new website, in the form of keyword research and onsite SEO. Keyword research determines what you will write about.

“The whole content on your website should be carefully crafted around what search terms people use when they are looking for your type of business.”

Think about it like going on a trip to someplace you’ve never been to before. If you are driving, you will use a map or a GPS to guide you. Keyword research is the “SEO map” for your website.

If you already have a website and it doesn’t have any SEO or poorly executed onsite SEO, you should clean that up first, before spending money on PPC

While offsite SEO can take months to work on and is a continuous battle, onsite SEO is like taking your car to the mechanic to get a new water pump- once it’s fixed, you’re good.

If you have good onsite SEO, free of technical errors, then, by all means, you can benefit from doing Offsite SEO simultaneously with PPC

Of course, if you search the Internet, you will find conflicting opinions. Some will insist that they get most results just by SEO and others will preach the benefits of PPC. The bottom line is if you can afford to do them both- DO THEM!

When Is It Better To Use SEO Than PPC?

Below are some scenarios when SEO would prove more beneficial for an online business as compared to PPC:

  1. SEO has a longer-lasting effect than PPC. PPC disappears the minute you stop paying, whereas SEO benefits tend to be more long term. This is not to say that your competition can’t come along and topple your search position with a sustained SEO campaign.
  2. When you are serious about branding, your website needs to show up high in organic search results in order to establish authority over your competitors. An example of this might be if someone searched for cola, and your company is Coca Cola. How much juice would you have if your site showed up on page 3 of the search results? Zilch!
  3. When you want more traffic to your website. Research shows that a higher percentage of users click on the organic results as opposed to PPC ads. So, if your goal is to increase traffic to your website for brand awareness, your organic SEO results can generate more clicks than PPC ads.
  4. If you are planning on selling your website, then a well-optimized site has more inherent value than one that isn’t.

When Is PPC Better To Use Than SEO?

Below are some circumstances where PPC would prove more beneficial for an online business compared to SEO:

  1. When SEO is taking longer than you expected and you need a leg up on the competition- pronto! If the Price is Right, PPC can get you right to the top of page 1 of Google for your chosen keyword.
  2. When you are running a sale that is time-sensitive and need highly targeted traffic. PPC allows you to have laser-focused control over who views your ads and how long they run. You can narrow the demographics down to location, age, interests, gender, income, education and even marital status among other factors. Unlike SEO, this gives PPC an advantage when it comes to targeting a specific group.


The bottom line is that figuring out whether to use SEO or PPC at any given moment depends on a lot of different factors, and must be considered on a business by business basis. It’s not one size fits all.

SEO and PPC each have their own Pros and Cons.. A holistic approach, combining the two, can be the best cure for lagging site visitors and conversions.

Here are some quick tips from iDesignYours:

  • Get your website and landing page(s) professionally designed and developed.
  • Have an SEO Specialist go over your website with a fine-toothed comb to see where improvements can be made.
  • Analyze your business requirements, the short and long-term goals of your marketing strategy, and go over these with your SEO/ PPC Specialist.
  • Use both SEO and PPC together to reach a goal of The Whole Being Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions. The consultation is always free. Thank you.