SEO Vs. PPC: What’s Better for B2B Sales?

SEO vs. PPC: Which is better? It’s a question we get all the time from clients and hear about often in the B2B digital marketing world. After all, the great debate about organic vs. paid traffic rages on as Google and other search engines increasingly become the cornerstone of modern lead generation.

Our opinion is that you don’t need to choose one over the other. What you do need is knowledge about how, why, and when to use each tactic to earn the best results. That’s what we’ll cover in this article.

When you’re done reading, you’ll understand how SEO and PPC both work, their key benefits, and which marketing scenarios each is best designed to support. Most importantly, you’ll know how to incorporate both into your future strategy in complementary ways that boost your overall lead-gen performance.

Quick Takeaways:

  • SEO optimizes websites and content to drive organic traffic, while PPC uses a bidding process to earn paid traffic.
  • The benefits of SEO are long-lasting, but it takes months to begin earning results. PPC results are immediate, but only last while campaigns are active.
  • Both SEO and PPC are important tactics for highly-targeted lead generation strategies.
  • B2B businesses don’t need to choose SEO vs. PPC (or vice versa). They’re complementary tactics that can be used together.

Understanding SEO and PPC

Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) are two key digital marketing strategies that stand out for their effectiveness in driving traffic and generating leads. Both play crucial in B2B lead generation, but they operate differently and serve distinct purposes.

SEO is the practice of optimizing websites to improve their rankings in organic (non-paid) search engine results. It involves enhancing various website elements—including content structure, keyword relevance, site architecture, and user experience—to make it attractive to search engines like Google.

Graphic highlighting the “what,” “why,” and “how” of SEO

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The primary goal of SEO is to increase a website’s visibility in organic search results, making it more likely for users to find the site when they search for relevant keywords or phrases. Effective SEO leads to higher rankings, which typically result in increased traffic, as users tend to click on the top few search results.

PPC is an advertising model where businesses pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. These ads can appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) or websites and social media platforms participating in ad networks. A well-known example is Google Ads.

PPC allows businesses to bid on keywords they want their ads to show up for, offering immediate visibility in search engine results. This can be particularly valuable for targeting specific audiences and achieving quick results, such as driving traffic to a website or promoting time-sensitive offers.

Graphic showing how the PPC process works

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With these definitions in mind, key differences between SEO vs. PPC to keep in mind include:

  • Cost Structure: SEO is often viewed as the more cost-effective strategy over the long term since it focuses on “free” organic traffic, but it takes more time to see results. On the other hand, PPC requires payment for each click, which can add up quickly but also provides immediate visibility.
  • Timeframe and Results: SEO is a long-term strategy. It can take months to see significant results as it involves building authority and relevance over time. That said, an established SEO-driven reputation lasts. PPC offers immediate results, as ads start appearing as soon as the campaign goes live, but traffic will disappear when campaigns end.
  • Control and Flexibility: With PPC, you have more control over the placement and appearance of your ads, including the ability to target specific demographics, times of day, and geographic locations. SEO results are subject to search engine algorithms, and changes take time to show.

Understanding these key aspects of SEO and PPC is crucial for any business looking to leverage digital channels for B2B sales. Each has its advantages and can be used effectively depending on the specific goals, budget, and timeframe of your marketing strategy.

SEO vs. PPC: Key Advantages of Each

Advantages of SEO

SEO stands as a cornerstone in modern B2B marketing, offering long-lasting visibility on platforms where leads are conducting their research. Specific advantages of SEO include:

1. Building Brand Authority and Credibility

SEO is essential for solidifying a brand’s authority. High rankings in search results position your business as an industry leader and a credible information source, fostering trust among potential B2B clients. At the same time, high-value content shows your brand’s expertise and thought leadership, showing buyers you’re equipped to provide effective solutions.

This matters in B2B—more than 80% of business decision makers and C-suite executives say that thought leadership has increased their trust in a brand.

More than 80% of business decision makers and C-suite executives say that thought leadership has increased their trust in a brand.

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2. Enhanced Lead Quality via Organic Search Traffic

Organic search leads are often more engaged and interested in your offerings. These users actively search for relevant solutions, leading them directly to your services, which translates to higher chances of conversion.

Incorporating strong keyword research into your SEO strategy enhances this benefit further, allowing you to target specific content assets and web pages based on search terms and phrases your prospects use.

3. Cost-effectiveness and ROI

Unlike paid advertising, the primary investment in SEO is upfront and tends to yield sustained traffic growth over time without ongoing costs. This makes SEO a cost-effective strategy with a high return on investment.

The sustained visibility and lead generation it provides has become a pivotal part of digital marketing strategies for most companies and an invaluable asset in the B2B sales process.

Advantages of PPC

PPC advertising is a dynamic tool in B2B digital marketing, offering distinct benefits that can complement or even enhance SEO. Here are the key advantages of using PPC in B2B sales:

4. Immediate Visibility and Quick Results

Unlike SEO, which builds traction over time, PPC campaigns offer immediate visibility in search results. This immediacy is particularly beneficial for new product launches or promoting time-sensitive offers, as it quickly drives traffic and potential leads to your site.

As soon as your campaign launches, you can expect to see your ad positioned near the top of SERPs, as seen below. While many users can recognize paid vs. organic search results, with the right headlines and accurate targeting, you can still earn significant click-throughs with PPC ad positioning.

5. Highly Targeted Audience Reach

PPC allows for precise targeting based on a variety of parameters including demographics, interests, geography, and even specific times of the day. This level of granularity ensures that your ads are seen by the most relevant audience, increasing the likelihood of attracting qualified leads.

6. Measurable and Adjustable

PPC campaigns provide real-time data, allowing for quick adjustments to optimize performance. Metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI are readily available, offering clear insights into the effectiveness of your campaigns.

7. Budget Control

With PPC, you have complete control over your budget. You can set a maximum spend for your campaigns, adjust bids for specific keywords, and pause or stop campaigns at any time. This flexibility ensures that you can manage your marketing budget effectively while maximizing results.

8. Testing and Optimization

PPC is an excellent tool for A/B testing different ad elements, including copy, calls to action, and landing pages. This testing capability can inform not only your PPC strategies but also broader marketing efforts.

So: Which Should You Use?

The real answer is both. We weren’t kidding when we said that both SEO and PPC were cornerstones of modern digital marketing, and they both offer significant but complementary advantages. SEO provides the kind of long-term, established reputation brands need to build trust—one that’s built on genuine content quality and expertise. At the same time, PPC allows companies to enhance build momentum with campaign-specific advertising that yields more immediate results.

Using the two together over time is a best-of-both-worlds approach that helps you maintain consistent online visibility with SEO, while promoting important initiatives and boosting traffic with PPC.

RevBoss can help you build an outbound B2B sales strategy that incorporates these and other leading tactics for attracting and winning over high-quality leads. Schedule a call with us to learn more.