What Comes First: PPC or SEO?

There are two important components of a thriving online presence—PPC and SEO. These two strategies can and should be used in tandem, However, you should prioritize your efforts before embarking on PPC or SEO. Especially when deciding on how much to budget. Which should be prioritized – a site that is optimized or a site that is generating immediate traffic and revenue? This article will explore the dilemma and provide insight into the best approach to maximize results.


We want to see every site undertake an immediate, comprehensive SEO campaign from the start that considers its niche, of course. However, there is still a place for PPC. We think that a balanced approach using both SEO and PPC is a great goal to achieve. You get the benefits of PPC from an initial, immediate-results perspective, and as SEO kicks in, you will achieve the benefits of SEO as well.

Consider the following steps to implement an Internet Marketing strategy that minimizes risks and costs.

Step 1: Plan a budget – The first step is to allocate a budget that is appropriate.  We think that a budget of at least $1,000 is a minimum that companies should shoot for to generate enough traffic to achieve statistically significant results.

Step 2: Set goals – Set goals for specific actions such as the number of users who fill out contact forms or subscribe to newsletters. This broader perspective allows for a comprehensive measurement of success.

Step 3: Measure your success – After your PPC campaign is over, you’ll have quantifiable results to evaluate the success of your campaign. This data-driven method provides valuable insights that are not easily attainable by SEO alone. If you don’t reach the goals set in Step 2, review your strategy and make the necessary adjustments based on the data.

Step 4: Focus on SEO – When it comes time to set up your PPC campaigns, your solid SEO foundation will provide you with the data needed to understand which keywords are going to be lucrative in your PPC efforts.

It is important to not treat SEO as a last-minute decision. Neglecting SEO will lead to missed opportunities, and you may lose the advantages that come from designing your site with SEO in consideration.

It can be costly to wait until after the launch of a PPC campaign before conducting keyword research or analyzing competition. It is best to do these tasks before launching your website or launching a PPC campaign. We recommend that you perform these tasks before even starting the website design process.

Research will give you the information you need about things like page naming, tags, content, and website optimization, and all of these elements will create a solid structure for your website. You will waste valuable time later if you ignore SEO during the design stage. Aim to get things right the first go around.

PPC is a great way to reach your target audience but not prioritizing SEO when setting up your PPC campaigns just might be too risky. It is important to realize that optimizing PPC campaigns does not communicate the purpose of your site or its value to potential visitors. Attracting visitors to your site becomes futile if it is poorly optimized and designed.

So PPC produces immediate results but it’s important to focus on SEO from the start as it gives you the data and foundation to build your PPC campaigns. However, by combining the two, your website and business will be profitable.

Start building an impactful online presence today—combine the immediate power of PPC with the enduring strength of SEO for maximum growth and success. Contact us

FAQ: How can I strategically balance PPC and SEO for online success?

Finding the optimal balance between Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial for achieving digital success. As an expert in the field, I understand the complexities of this dynamic relationship and can guide you through the process.

Understanding Buyer Intent:

To strike the right balance, it’s essential to delve into the buyer’s intent. Identify the keywords that potential customers use when actively seeking information about your products or services. These are the terms that bridge the gap between PPC and SEO, aligning your strategies with user queries.

Leveraging PPC for Quick Wins:

PPC is your swift ally in capturing immediate attention. Use it for time-sensitive promotions, product launches, or to gain visibility in highly competitive spaces. However, be mindful of the budget. Allocate resources strategically, focusing on high-conversion keywords to maximize ROI.

SEO: The Foundation of Sustainable Success:

While PPC provides instant gratification, SEO lays the foundation for sustainable success. Invest in a robust SEO strategy that incorporates well-researched keywords, high-quality content, and effective backlinking. This ensures long-term visibility and credibility in the eyes of search engines.

Harmonizing PPC and SEO Efforts:

Achieving synergy between PPC and SEO is the key to unlocking their combined potential. Align your messaging across both channels, ensuring a cohesive brand presence. Leverage insights from PPC campaigns to refine your SEO strategy, identifying high-performing keywords for organic growth.

Monitoring and Adaptation:

The digital landscape is ever-changing, and so should your strategies. Regularly monitor the performance of your PPC and SEO campaigns. Analyze data, identify trends, and adapt your approach accordingly. This dynamic adjustment ensures your online presence remains effective and in tune with evolving market demands.

Step-by-Step: How to Prioritize SEO and PPC Strategies for Successful Online Presence

  1. Plan your budget:

Begin by determining a budget for your online marketing. According to industry expert Paul Schmidt, a budget of $1,000 or more is recommended for generating enough traffic to achieve statistically significant results.

  1. Set goals:

Define specific goals for online marketing campaigns, such as the number of users who fill out contact forms or subscribe to newsletters. A broader perspective will allow you to measure your success more fully and provide a clear direction.

  1. Launch a PPC Campaign

Start by focusing your efforts on PPC advertising to generate immediate traffic. You’ll get some great data to analyze. Launching a PPC campaign allows you to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy.

  1. Measure Success

Analyze the quantifiable data to determine the success of your PPC campaign. This data-driven method provides valuable insights not easily accessible through SEO alone. If you didn’t reach the goals in Step 2, then review your strategy, and make the necessary adjustments based upon the data collected.

  1. SEO: Shift your focus

You should have enough data from PPC campaigns by this point to determine the effectiveness and relevance of your chosen keywords. This data will help you to guide your SEO campaign and identify the specific keywords that you should focus on for organic search rankings.

  1. Include SEO in your business strategy from the beginning:

Do not treat SEO like an afterthought. Neglecting SEO could lead to missed opportunities, and hinder the benefits that come with designing your website for search engine optimization. Before launching your site or launching PPC campaigns, it is important to perform keyword research, analyze the competition, and perform necessary optimizations.

  1. Research thoroughly:

Research thoroughly before you begin the website design process to make informed choices about page naming and tag usage, website architecture and navigation, as well as content creation. By incorporating SEO into your website design from the start, you can save time and create a solid foundation.

  1. Strike a Balance

PPC campaigns may deliver immediate results but it is important to strike a balance with SEO strategies. Both are crucial in building a successful presence online. PPC offers quick traffic and data insight, while SEO provides long-term organic visibility. By strategically combining both, you can create a strong online presence and attract valuable traffic.

Start with a PPC strategy to generate immediate traffic, and then gather data for evaluation. Once you’ve analyzed the data, focus on SEO but include it from the start for long-term success. Don’t forget that balancing PPC and SEO is a skill that you’ll pick up after sticking with the process outlined. Your uptick in traffic and sales will thank you.

This article was updated on December 20, 2023.  

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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