WMW logo
Social links
contact us for a free marketing report


Pay-per-click versus SEO

There are currently 2 main ways to generate visits from search engine users. Firstly, implementing a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy for a website can enable it to rank well for selected terms within the main search results and secondly, by using pay-per-click advertising, which displays your listing within the sponsored results on many of the popular search tools.

Both of these options can be used alongside each other and can be a cost-effective way to attract new visitors to your website, but they also have their own advantages and disadvantages, as outlined below:

Set-up time and costs

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can be set up to work effectively within a few days, whilst developing a site’s search engine optimisation may take months in many cases. Therefore using PPC can be useful for new websites, or for short term promotions as there is less initial cost involved and results will be achieved sooner.

Long term value

As it charges for every click to a site, PPC will remain a constant cost for a business over time. In contrast, a successful optimisation project can provide added value long after the initial work has been undertaken, allowing its cost-effectiveness to overtake that of PPC in the long term.


The value, or return on investment, that an SEO project can provide may vary dramatically. For example, a business with a well established website containing extensive content can stand to gain far more from SEO than a newly launched website with minimal content.

Assessing this value against the initial costs of optimising a site can be difficult. In contrast, the effectiveness of a PPC campaign can be assessed as money is invested, meaning that, if monitored closely, there is very little risk involved.


Providers of PPC advertising, such as Google Ads (AdWords) and Yahoo! Search Marketing provide information on clicks, with no need to set up any extra tracking, as leads or sales can also be tracked with the addition of a small piece of code, meaning that the cost per sale or lead can be tracked from the outset.

In contrast, to measure the effectiveness of a natural search engine optimisation project, a website analytics package or log files need to be reviewed, which can be a more complex process.