SEO Vs. PPC: How Much Is A Search Ranking Worth?

in SEO

Let me preface this by saying that this article is not to describe the pros and cons of SEO vs. PPC as a strategy to drive traffic to your website. That discussion is for another blog post altogether. Here, we are discussing if you can use PPC cost estimations to put a value on your organic search traffic.

What is the value of your SEO strategy?

Does PPC price help value your organic search visitors?

Driving traffic to your website via search engines is a process. If you’ve invested in SEO for your business before, then you know that it takes time to gain rankings. You also know that getting traffic from long tail keywords can become more beneficial than the targeted short tail keywords that take longer to rank for.

Whether you hire an SEO agency or decide to figure it out yourself and work on your SEO in-house, resources are spent. Time or money. With SEO taking at least a couple of months to see results or a very aggressive blogging strategy (see our business blogging case study here), you should be able to measure the ROI of your SEO.

For most companies today, they are realizing that their website can be a quality lead generation source for their sales team. Measuring leads generated from the website and your website’s conversion rates are definitely a must for any company, there is another way to measure how much a visitor may cost.

*Read through to the final section to not confuse the value of a visitor with the cost of a new customer.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of raising your website in the search engine results organically. There are many different SEO strategies that you can use to climb the search rankings. We are strong believers in a holistic, content marketing approach to getting higher rankings in the search engines.

Pay Per Click (PPC) is the practice of running online advertisements and paying for each click that comes to your website. The cost of an advertisement is weighted based on many factors, such as your industry and your competition. The exact cost is based off of an auction algorithm, so the more competitive a keyword is, the higher the cost per click will be.

Though getting traffic to your website via organic search traffic (SEO) is free, getting to the top of the search engines takes planning, smart strategy and solid execution. This may be something you hire an SEO company for or try to do in-house. But like many things, “free” doesn’t mean free in this case. Some resources (time, money or both) will be spent to rank higher in search engines. The benefit to SEO vs. PPC is that once you stop paying for ads, you stop getting traffic from PPC. PPC also only drives traffic for the terms you pay for. SEO traffic from organic search rankings produces exponential growth over time. You will rank for more than just your targeted keywords, you will rank for secondary and long tail keywords that drive more targeted traffic to your landing pages. If you spend three months with an SEO campaign, you will continue to see some movement up the search rankings afterwards as well.

SEO Vs. PPC Too Confusing? You’re Not Alone

Trying to figure out all of this SEO, PPC and search engine ranking stuff can be confusing if you don’t have a background in it. That’s what experts are for. Save time and a ton of headaches by talking with us about setting up a strategy to drive more traffic to your website today. Contact us here

How To Use PPC To Determine Your SEO Value

SEO Vs. PPC For Cost EstimatingWhen you set up a PPC campaign, you will get an estimate for how much you will be paying per click for each keyword you are targeting with your ads. Based on this value for PPC ad clicks, you can look at how many organic search visitors you’ve gotten for that keyword and see how much money you’ve “saved” by going organic.

Quick PPC To SEO Valuing

While it can become a very tedious process to go through all of your keywords (once you start generating long tail keyword traffic, this number gets exponentially larger) and then researching the cost of the PPC campaign for those keywords, you may want to average out your numbers.

Find out the CPC (cost per click) for your top 10-20 targeted keywords and average the cost. Then based on how much organic search traffic you get to your website, use the average CPC price to figure out the value of your search traffic.

Does This Price Evaluation Work For All Website Visitors?

While comparing the cost of a PPC campaign visitor and an organic visitor isn’t an exact match (based on which types of visitors convert better, come back more often, become brand advocates, etc. these traffic sources are of different quality), it is a good estimation tool and option for some perspective on your spending.

So does this type of cost estimation for your website traffic work when comparing any traffic source? I suppose you can use this formula to determine what you should be spending on your visitors, but again, different sources refer a different quality of visitor. Someone coming from an email link sent to them by a sales person will likely be a pre-qualified visitor versus someone who landed on your website by clicking a retweeted link from a third party on Twitter.

Don’t Confuse This PPC To SEO Value With Cost Per Customer

The acronym used previously in this article, CPC, stands for Cost Per Click when running an ad campaign. While the topic here compares how much you can be expecting to pay for visitors coming from search sources (paid or organic), it doesn’t give you the Cost Per Customer.

The Cost Per Customer formula is a completely separate discussion and is based on the lifetime value of your customer and how much of your resources are spent on acquiring them (cost of acquisition). If you spend $3,000 per month on your online marketing and result in 10 new leads and 1 new piece of business, you’re Cost Per Lead is $300 and your Cost Of Acquisition is $3,000. If you are a general contractor who is getting a $25,000 job, that may work well for you. If you are a paint store and that’s the sale of a few gallons of paint, then you probably want to rethink your strategy.

How Do You Value Your SEO Services?

Do you have a formula for determining your SEO budget to hire an agency? If you are an SEO company, how do you show your value of visitors to your clients? There are so many different ways to shave this cat that I’m curious to hear from SEO clients on what they’ve experienced and the philosophy of other companies offering SEO services. Leave your answers in the comments below!