SEO vs. Paid Advertising: Which One is Best?

Oftentimes businesses will ask us whether they should put their advertising dollars towards SEO (search engine optimization) or PPC (pay-per-click or paid advertising). The answer to this question depends on your industry, your business needs and the goals you’re attempting to accomplish.

Pros & Cons of SEO


  • “Free” organic traffic
  • Greater online exposure
  • Greater website credibility


  • Results take time (3to 6 months min.)
  • Ranking in Google isn’t guaranteed
  • Difficult to measure what works

Pros & Cons of PPC


  • Immediate traffic, conversions and results
  • Direct control over marketing message
  • Fine-tune your targeting


  • All traffic costs
  • Costly, depending on industry
  • Constant testing and optimizing

When Should You Use SEO or PPC?

The general rule of thumb is if you need immediate results, then PPC is the route to take. If you have the time and budget to invest in your website every month, then SEO might be best. However, SEO and PPC produce powerful results and return on investment (ROI) when combined.

SEO is often referred to as a “marathon” and not a “sprint” in the advertising world. There are hundreds of factors in Google’s Algorithm that are attributed to top page ranking in Google search results.All of these ranking factors are executed by the Hughes Media team on an on-going basis for SEO clients. This is why SEO is an investment and takes at least 3 to 6 months minimum before results are typically seen. SEO also requires a mix of digital marketing efforts, including social media marketing, optimizing the backend of the website, acquiring authoritative backlinks, and much more. For these reasons, PPC or paid advertising can be very appealing to companies that don’t have the time to invest and need immediate conversions. For example, if you’re a contractor who needs the phone to ring, Call-only Adwords ads are a great PPC strategy.

As stated previously, deciding whether to invest in SEO or PPC ultimately depends on your needs and budget as well as the competitiveness of the marketplace. Visit our case studies to learn more or contact us for a free digital marketing evaluation.