PPC and SEO — What the Left Hand Can Learn From the Right

SEO or PPC, or both? Most people and businesses that are new to the industry don’t know which marketing channels to use, which options are best, and often they believe they need SEO or PPC, not both.

In last week’s #SEMrushchat, our community and guests @PPCKirk and @craigcampbell03 shared insights on the SEO vs. PPC debate, discussed keyword research for each channel, how to use data, how to use the right keywords, and finding the right SEO PPC ratio. Below are many valuable tips for businesses and agencies, insights on things to do, things to avoid, factors to consider, and analogies to share with clients. Check them out and share your thoughts in the comments below or via social. 

Note: You can look at the Twitter threads or retweet any of the tips/insights below by clicking on the Twitter logo next to the quote. 

Kirk Williams

There was once a farmer who had only one horse. The horse served him well and helped him farm for 10 years. Then one day the horse died. The farmer only had one horse. Now the farmer couldn’t farm. His family starved. It was sad. The end. A marketing strategy must be multi-channel to account for (1) changes in the google-sphere (2) capture people coming at diff stages of the funnel and with diff intent. Both have place in the well-rounded marketer’s playbook and they complement each other.


PPC and SEO are not two sides of the same coin but they individually are like ace cards in your deck. You miss one and you miss an entire traffic channel.

Ben Austin

I always remind people of this quote: ‘Success is not about tricking Google. It’s about partnering with Google to provide the best search results for Google’s users.’

Maddie Clark

Why would you buy a lamp without a light bulb? But seriously, with clients, I do like to make analogies like that to illustrate the importance of PPC and SEO integration.


It depends on the nature of the business. It’s better to start #SEO from the development stage (beta), and #PPC can be started at the later stage. At some given point of time they need both.

Diana Richardson

It’s important to cover all of your bases, not just one, otherwise you’re leaving yourself open and for the competition to take you out.

Q2. Keyword research for SEO and PPC: is there any difference?

Debi Norton

Yes, there are differences between KW research for SEO vs. PPC. We can set up campaigns around a client’s competitors & use their brand in PPC, whereas you wouldn’t optimize a page for competitive brands.

Stevie Howard

I think SEO keywords are more centered around ‘Is it searchable?’, ‘Is it a topic your audience likes?’ PPC keywords get more data-driven by looking at search volume and competition. You need all of these aspects for each but I think PPC is more focused.

D2 Creative

Yes! While the KW lists may be similar the results will be different. PPC will be more targeted while SEO will have longer tail KW’s and more room to breathe.

Brie E Anderson

There may be some keywords that are very expensive for PPC BUT Don’t have a lot of competition in the organic results that may have SERP features you can win (because people are lazy/complacent) A holistic view is a MUST in this industry.


SEO keywords are mostly focused on searcher intent to bring into the website and to convert them later on, whereas PPC keywords are mostly targeted for conversions.

Youness Bermime

You’d want to focus on keyword intent a little bit more. But generally, for SEO, you’d probably want more informational keywords while PPC would focus on buyer intent.

Q3. How you can use your PPC data to improve your SEO or vice versa?

Kirk Williams

PPC is also a fantastic testing ground for title/desc testing. Grab the phrases that the PPC team has found over time to resonate the most with your audience, and use them in your title / meta description tags or even site content.

Craig Campbell

I always use both sets of data to look at and test new keywords, whether that’s some long-tail organic that might be cheap on PPC or whatever. Its all about fine-tuning and tweaking alongside new tests, its all in that data.

Michael Ramsey

Remember that PPC is the only place you can learn about different engagement from disparate keywords sending traffic to the same page since organic went (not provided) long ago. If you really need to know, advertise on the SEO keyword temporarily.

Brian Kato

Understanding trends, commercial intent, and whether there’s even a market for your product/service. There’s no sense in competing if there aren’t any buyers.

Bernie Fussenegger

PPC data is important in the analysis of what is working and what is not. When you drive the traffic to your landing page, what is converting and what is not. Can help with content creation, copy and types of content that convert.

Youness Bermime

PPC is a quick testing ground for SEO titles. If it gets clicks there, it’ll probably get them on search engine results. And PPC lets you know what you need for CRO. Both make you understand what your audience is looking for and what they’re ready to buy.

Q4. Let’s say you have good organic rankings for certain keywords. Would you also invest in PPC for these keywords? Why?

Michael Ramsey

You can find out whether this is valuable by linking GSC to your Google Ads account. You can get awesome data on whether you cannibalize your organic traffic or get valuable extra traffic. So the answer is yes, but use this report to find out if it’s worth it.

Simon Cox

It depends! Yay! I’d certainly question the amount of spend in this situation but knowing how much Google likes to test and change the SERPs it could be that your PPC is the only consistent way to keep your site visible in the future.

Diana Richardson

Yep, but keep the bid lower. If you show up in two different areas of the search results page, it’s more likely you’ll get clicked on. It helps reinforce your relevancy in the mind of the searcher if they see you twice. #DoubleThreat #TakeUpAsMuchSpaceAsPossible

Bernie Fussenegger

Yes in investing of PPC for keywords that are ranking well with organic…keywords should be part of the paid strategy – what is doing well today organically could drop off tomorrow and you would then be at a disadvantage.

Maddie Clark

Yes, double coverage on a single keyword can be incredibly beneficial. It can buy time or fill in gaps. Lets say a kw ranks well SEO-wise but not great due to copy relevancy… well you can use PPC to fill in gaps while you revamp blog or site pages.

Viorel Mocanu

Google varies SERPs to push for variability, so PPC makes sure you’re not lost in the ensuing noise. Plus, you also target exotic/rare long tails your content doesn’t rank for organically.

Q5. How you can find the perfect PPC SEO ratio if your budget is limited?

Kirk Williams

You have to know your business and industry well enough to determine where you should invest most of your budget. Then, keep this fluid and revisit constantly. You may invest 75% into SEO the first year to kickstart that, and then shift that ratio to PPC Year 2.

Craig Campbell

Not sure you can find a perfect ratio, you have to utilise the budget to the best of your ability, for a quick ROI you might want to use 100% on PPC and get more money in that allows you to build SEO into things


If your budget is very tight then you should spend less money on PPC and more time on SEO. This will help you in ranking and after that, you can increase your PPC budget as you grow. It’s a great way to minimize spend and maximize growth.

Maddie Clark

Analyze traffic and figure out which kws are accomplishing your goals best and invest your budget there. If deciding which to hire first, spend your budget on a SEO consultant over PPC!! It’s not like the chicken and the egg, SEO is needed for PPC to really soar.

Nathan Driver

I don’t think there is a ‘perfect’ ratio of budget – if so it would be changing daily (as G rolls out updates and users intent changes with trends).

Alizée Baudez

Trial and error on small periods of time and a good dose of experimentations.

David Rosam

I don’t think you can. At least as the question now stands. There are too many variables to even start picking through them.

How do you feel about integrating SEO and PPC? 

Please share your insights and tips in the comments below. We also want to thank everyone that participated in the chat. We will be looking for your expert insights this week; SEMrushchat starts at 11 am ET/4 pm BST on Wednesday, November, 20th.

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