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PPC vs. SEO: Which IS Better For Startups?

Digital Marketing
February 3, 2023
16 min

As you strategically aim to achieve the highest ROI, the digital promotion of a startup is no different from any other type of digital marketing.

Many startup owners are concerned about SEO vs. PPC: which is better?

When every dollar counts, it is high time you consider win-win SEO and PPC options.

As strange as it may sound, the core question on the 2023 digital marketing agenda is not about SEO vs. PPC. It is about the finest ways to align these approaches as part of a holistic marketing strategy for your startup.

With all pros and cons, PPC and SEO come as the most preferred choices for startups. At stake are website accessibility, conversions, and brand awareness.

While both advertising methods are sound investments, Promodo experts suggest aligning them to reach the highest effect.

Quick scaling through the funnel is about PPC, whereas SEO assumes long-term organic development to reach sustainable ranking.

Tipping the scales at PPC & SEO, we will try to optimize the marketing budget for your startup.

PPC At Stake

Let’s get the ball rolling with a proper take on organic SEO vs. pay-per-click.

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is about paying for the clicks on your ads. This means that you pay only for your potential customers interested in your product or service.

With search engine marketing PPC, you optimize your advertising ROI by targeting queries with high intent.

Over time Google has turned PPC into a rather cost-effective advertising model. You may also experiment with PPC on Facebook and Linkedin.

The whole idea here is in paying for driving traffic to your website. Furthermore, search engines match paid ads with search queries.

Paid Clicks Embrace 65% Of Buyer-Intent Keywords

This comes as an inbound advantage over organic traffic while PPC targets are 50% more likely to purchase something on your website. SEO-generated leads show a mere 15% closing rate.

More to that, with PPC you’ll expand your potential customer base by reaching customers interested in similar products or services.

Search engine PPC advertising is the best match for your startup advertising while hundreds of millions of users use ad blockers.

PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something on your website than organic visitors.

Promotion Strategy After Launch

SEO Redefined

With 94% of organic traffic on Google, search engine optimization (SEO) is about targeted traffic to your website.

The idea of content optimization is in matching keywords on your pages with popular search queries.

While the average conversion rate of SEO leads is about 14.6%, the good news is that the first organic search result receives about 28.5% clicks. With that, you do not have to pay Google for organic traffic.

However, mind that 67% of users who click on Google rely on the first five organic results. More to that, 75% of users never get beyond the first search page.

This indicates tough rivalry for organic searches.

57% of B2B marketers rely on SEO to get more leads. In this vein, nothing can beat SEO as an optimal digital marketing approach.

Your startup will appear in the top spots in about 9-12 months on average. High rankings are the surest way to get profitable traffic. However, mind that about 60% of top-ranking pages are older than three years.

It’s All About Money?

Beyond apparent perks, it is high time we dived into the nature of SEO and PPC.

Once again, the core question on the digital marketing agenda in 2023 and beyond is not about which is better: SEO or PPC.

There are several myths underway that need further explanation.

Most startup ventures erroneously take SEO as a completely free alternative. Reaching top rankings on Google is a tedious path that requires costs, time, and effort. Plus, the engine’s numerous algorithms are changing over time.

Our experts have featured top Google’s ranking factors:

  • Quality Content
  • Domain Authority
  • Mobile-Driven Presence
  • UX
  • Load Speed
  • Optimized Pages
  • Internal Links
  • Backlinks
  • Social Media Networking
  • User Security
Brand Recognition

While PPC costs are direct, SEO assumes a lot of indirect expenses. While you will have to pay for setting up your SEO, you are not paying for traffic. In the case of PPC, your traffic halts once you stop paying for ads.

There is also a click-through rate (CTR) metric to consider in running online ad campaigns. As a startup venture, you will have to ensure the highest number of impressions per click.

High CTR is the finest indicator that your ad is relevant to the audiences you are targeting.

While SEO generates free traffic on your landing pages 300% better than social media networks, you should be ready to match multiple Google’s requirements to get atop.

As a paid approach to advertising, PPC counts between $1 to $2 for every single click on Google Ads.

The defining factors for cost-per-click (CPC) are your niche, keyword selection, target audience, and ad quality. You’ll pay more once your niche is highly saturated with lots of paid ads rivalry. In a blue ocean market, you’ll enjoy a lower barrier of entry with fewer competitors and lower CPC rates.

Search engine positioning is what makes a crucial difference between SEO and PPC

In most cases, organic results appear below paid ads and featured snippets. This means that as an organic approach, SEO cannot ensure you’ll appear first among target queries searched by your targets.

If you want to appear atop, use PPC as the finest way to generate ROI. Experienced businesses return more than 50% of their investments to Google Ads.

And, there is so much more to PPC vs. organic search.

It’s All About Traffic?

While both SEO and PPC entail high traffic potential, SEO clicks generate more than 70% of organic search results.

Another PPC vs. SEO difference is that PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase on your website compared to organic audiences.

In either case, your strategic priority is to ensure the highest conversions. For this purpose, Promodo marketers suggest experimenting by mixing both options at a moderate cost.  

Do not overspend on every single click, instead try to maintain a balance between SEO and PPC conversions. You have to achieve high-ranking positions to expect a steady flow of traffic from SEO.


On top of the iceberg, evening out PPC and SEO traffic will always serve you as a win-win strategy.

For your startup PPC or SEO dilemma, we suggest jumpstarting your digital marketing journey with SEO as a less expensive alternative. Try to keep up with as many Google metrics as you possibly can to get to the top positions organically. Once you get more or less stable traffic, start experimenting with PPC.

Meanwhile, though, you may rely on PPC ads to drive traffic immediately before getting organic flow from SEO.

And What About Conversions?

Part of inbound digital marketing, both PPC and SEO are the surest ways to drive sales for your startup.

When you are filling content with customer-oriented keywords, Google is increasing conversion rates for your pages. This means that your targeted audiences are now responding better to your ads while more personalized user queries are matching the keywords on your website.

Regardless of content (SEO) or ads (PPC), target your potential audiences with more quality content on your pages. The best advice here is to safeguard long-tail keywords with purchase intent to reach your potential customers.

Pages That Top Organic Google Search Results Are At Least 1400 Words Long

Still, PPC and SEO assume different conversion potentials.

Target keyword phrases that perfectly match the value of the products and services you deliver on our pages. This is to stress that high conversion rates are about your capacity to match user intent and the offer on your landing pages.

While in SEO you gather target keywords, with PPC you optimize ads with the exact keywords for your appearance or exclude negative keywords. In both cases, you may analyze competitors and the most popular and trending searches within your niche.

Organic results are pivotal to Google, so no matter how well you optimize your content, search engines may not show everything to your potential customers. Craft your perfect offers with PPC ads.

ROI Matters

Beyond correct budgeting, PPC versus SEO is also about return on investment.

While you may spot an immediate return on investment with PPC, much will depend on the correct setting of your campaigns and budget optimization.

The SEO path is far way longer. The result will not come in days because you need time to heat your startup across the niche. SEO assumes a long play with no magic overnight.

As a content planning strategy, SEO assumes person-hours spending. PPC, on the other hand, is both ad spend and person-hours.

That’s how time and money predetermine ROI in both cases.

If you have enough time, start targeting your preferred audiences with SEO. If not, stick to PPC instead. With a longer lag, you will achieve more sustainable leads. The ones that will stay loyal to the brand name you develop.

Say, you are a local startup with almost no competition across the niche; in this case, the scenario is sure to rely on organic traffic from SEO. Conversely, if your niche is saturated, apply PPC to show your brand to the market. At least, that will bring you a temporary effect of brand awareness and help to kick-start leads.

Organic traffic

With 97 b. local searches a month, 37k users are searching local businesses every second. After browsing Google for a while, up to 80% of users are eager to shop locally. This indicates that local intent searches make up 46% of Google queries.

28% of Local Searches End Up In A Purchase

With higher conversion rates supposed by SEO in the long run, count on it if you are playing a long-term business strategy of 10 years and beyond.

A strategic vision of digital business development will provide loyal customers instead of incidental one-time leads you generate with PPC.

Be patient and committed to generating quality content, and take time to wait for the results.

By ensuring a self-sustaining online presence for your startup, you will gain comparative advantages over other market entrants who will mostly bet on quick profits.

As a deciding factor, time will help you reap most of the SEO fruit as part of the strategic waiting game.

Pay per-click vs SEO is to stress that PPC leads are primarily good for short-term profit generation. They are not likely to become your dedicated customers who will visit your website to buy once more.

Landing on your pages merely through ad clicks is just about the short-lived effect you achieve by paying for clicks. This, however, is not your loyal target audience likely to read anything besides commercial content on your pages or somehow associate with your brand in the future.

Those are SEO leads you should care about most. These audiences want to know more about you, browse through your pages, comment on your social media posts, and engage with your brand in all possible ways.

As a startup, you should keep them at all costs. Apart from SEO, engage with your loyal targets through social media, YouTube channels, and all possible free-of-charge offers.

With that, while organic vs PPC comes as two different approaches in startup marketing, your best choice is to take them as complementary.  

With a brand new site for your startup, you should generate SEO and PPC leads simultaneously. While SEO is far more time-consuming, it will bring you returning customers in a while.

In its turn, PPC will benefit you as long as your budget spending allows you to.

With little content and no sufficient amount of backlinks during the first 1-3 months, rely on PPC as a backup strategy to live through an initial 6-8-month period when your SEO is to break even.

This is an aha moment when your organic revenue will outnumber your SEO expenses.

Money vs time expenses is about an optimal investment. The return will depend on how well you do the homework on your website. At Promodo, we have already covered major SEO and PPC pitfalls to avoid.

Also do not expect to designate your PPC faucet correctly in a shot. Also, do not be naive to expect Google to index your pages immediately. Be sure to stick to a stable PPC timeline and monthly budget to maintain the faucet and generate leads continuously.

The truth is that your SEO leads will not come sooner than in 3-6 months. Regardless of interim outcomes, by all means, pursue a long-term growth strategy for your startup. Reinvest the revenue you get from PPC to enhance your pages with the best SEO metrics.

Therefore, there is no PPC vs SEO dilemma at all. Being aware of the nature of both, you are sure to benefit from these approaches in the most consistent manner.

Bring PPC and SEO Together

Take SEO as the best-fit solution to generate consistent traffic organically and gain high rankings.

A core sustainable advantage here is that with SEO you are driving traffic consistently.

Vodafone Conversions

To make a holistic digital promotion for your startup and achieve high SEO rankings, keep up with the trending keywords across your niche.

As we have shown here, as an effective means of generating traffic immediately, PPC is completely different.

This should be your periodical action in support of a sustainable long-term SEO strategy. PPC is good if you do maintain it persistently without exceeding your budget.

To you as a startupper, SEO may come as the most affordable solution.

Right, you are free to benefit from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, as well as PageSpeed Insights all suitable to help you create a robust SEO strategy.

Twinword Ideas and RankWatch will come in handy to explore ranking opportunities and analyze your competitors.

As a startup venture, do not expect to outrank top domains and set your company atop Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

Rather, invest in analyzing SEO tools that will most benefit your business.

Use SEO for establishing a sustainable market presence for your startup, and rely on PPC when your product or service matches event-marketing like Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas, or St. Valentine’s Day.

Along with social ads, PPC best suits seasonal marketing campaigns once you have a sound seasonal offering.

In the context of search engine optimization vs. pay-per-click, make sure you understand your end customer.

Also, establish clear business objectives for your startup right from scratch. While PPC is a perfect lead generator, this advertising method will best suit B2C lead generation. SEO is a way to go with a B2B channel.  

While PPC is a perfect choice for marketing simple products or services, SEO assumes a long-sales cycle and will match complex sales funnels.

Furthermore, use PPC to target generic and popular searches like ‘order books online.’ SEO is suitable for more specific searches like ‘what are the best books to read during vacation?’ This means that SEO is about specific queries while PPC helps you target a mass market.

Knowing your customer’s lifetime value also makes a difference between SEO and PPC. Target your high-revenue customers with PPC, and leave SEO for lower-value customers.

Once you know that your startup customers are problem-aware, rely on SEO as a top-of-the-funnel strategy.

If your target audiences are more solution-aware, PPC ad campaigns will bring you the highest conversions.

In both cases, segmenting your target consumer groups is a must. Audience segmentation is crucial for PPC to target specific keywords, while SEO always remains the best choice for organic search.

For the best PPC effect, bet on targeted advertising. With a more personalized approach, you are sure to better unwrap your customer’s profile, i.e. demographics, location, income level, preferences, hobbies, lifestyles, etc.


The trick here is to make the right people see your ads and land on your product or service pages.

Watch out, PPC can rise in cost any second! Whenever the clicks on your ads go up, your PPC budget will rise as well. Limiting the budget is not a perfect case scenario while low-budget campaigns are not likely to convert well.

Furthermore, mind tough rivalry for the top keywords. This will also add up to your primary expenses. This is to prove that ranking for highly competitive keywords is expensive.

Over time, PPC ads get ineffective. More appearances in the SERPs decrease their value, while most users are ignoring up to 80% of paid advertisements as part of the trending ad blindness culture.

Overall, PPC investments are reasonable when you are running a competition with more established market players. PPC will provide you with an additional push.

You may also use PPC to promote exclusive offers and generate leads.

While SEO versus PPC is not the case, the sustainable growth of your startup will depend on how well you can align both approaches at a manageable budget.

The major takeaways of combining organic SEO and paid PPC options are as follows:

  • Optimize SEO content with the keywords you applied for PPC ads.
  • Use PPC for retargeting your visitors.
  • Sort out highly-competitive keywords to outrank competitors.
  • Solidify your sustainable SEO ranking with PPC marketing.
  • Boost your startup’s long-lasting brand awareness with regular PPC ads.

Making people want to remain on your website is about generating original and reliable content.

Sustainable SEO approaches will help you build trust among your target audiences to you as an expert player in the field. A sense of authority is crucial for the further transformation of website visitors to end customers of your products or services.  

On the other side of the fence of organic SEO vs. PPC, the latter option will help you generate conversions with sale-focused keywords from a lower funnel.

Make sure you match your keyword selections not only to reach one-time sales but also to target your organic targets. Throughout the funnel, PPC is also efficient for retargeting your audience to organic SEO content.

This makes your PPC budget even more efficient because you’re only serving ads to those who are familiar with your brand and who have consumed your authoritative content.

The synergy of SEO and PPC turns into a holistic marketing approach.

That is what we emphasize at Promodo. A combination of various possible marketing approaches like SEO and PPC will favor your startup presentation in the eyes of people who see you for the first time.

Build a brand name for your startup by using all marketing options.

Sure, you won’t be able to cope with all the metrics and requirements by yourself.

At Promodo, we are always ready to enhance your digital marketing journey.


Pretty soon, our diligent analysis will help you spot:

  • Landing pages that get you the highest organic traffic
  • Landing pages that convert leads
  • Landing pages that fall behind conversion goals
  • Landing pages that need further optimization
  • Search queries that bring you the most organic clicks
  • The pages that best match organic clicks, and
  • The number of organic search sessions on your website.

While the choice between SEO or PPC depends on your business goals, combine both approaches to best serve your startup needs. In either case, monitor ROI consistently and consider market changes.  

Written by
Taras Bereza

Content Marketing Manager at Promodo

Taras has 16 years of hands-on copywriting experience overseas with 3000+ unique copies.

Accredited with Certificate of Proficiency in English (C2 level) by Cambridge University. Studied at Writing Launch Academy (United States) and owns an Academic Writing Certificate from Oregon University. Author of 12 dictionaries with Apriori Publishers.

February 3, 2023
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