Can PPC Steal Your SEO Traffic?

If you run a business and market it online, you've probably heard the analogy that PPC is like renting an apartment while SEO is like buying a house. I'm not a huge fan of this analogy: the truth is that for substantial online growth, you'll likely need both PPC and SEO in your marketing strategy (tip: start with SEO first!).

The Pros and Cons

Let's weigh the pros and cons of both:

PPC (Pay-Per-Click):

  • Pros:
    • Quickly drives relevant traffic
  • Cons:
    • Costs can add up

SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

  • Pros:
    • Long-term organic growth
  • Cons:
    • Requires time and planning
    • Results not guaranteed

Now, here's a question: If you're already seeing good results with SEO but haven't tried PPC yet, could running PPC ads potentially harm your SEO traffic? Let's find out!

The Impact of PPC on SEO

According to BrightEdge, a whopping 68% of online experiences start with a search engine. It's no secret, this shows how important search engines are for your business's success.

You might have concerns that running PPC ads could steal clicks from your organic search results.  Here's the thing: it's true, but it typically applies to a very small percentage of keywords you're ranking for.

Understanding the Behavior:

The search engine results page (SERP) has evolved significantly over the past decade. It's no longer just a plain list of text results. Nowadays, SERPs are dynamic and interactive, featuring various elements like featured snippets, local packs, knowledge panels, and image or video results. Despite these changes, one behavior remains consistent: people tend to click on results near the top of the page.

In 2020, Google revealed that 80% of searches on their platform had no ads at the top, and less than 5% had four ads at the top of the page. While the exact numbers may have shifted slightly since then, it's crucial to note that these stats include searches for generic terms like 'weather.' For keywords related to your business, a higher percentage of searches will likely feature ads at the top.

The Impact:

Now, imagine a scenario where there's a search with no ads, only organic results, and your website holds the number one organic ranking on that page. If you suddenly run Google Ads for that keyword, there's a chance that your PPC ad could push your organic listing down on the page. Instead of capturing roughly 30% of the clicks on the page, you might get around 15-20%. However, this is an exceptionally rare occurrence, and for the most part, it's not a cause for concern.


PPC ads do have the potential to affect organic listings by pushing them down on the page. Nevertheless, since most keywords related to your business already have ads on them, this is a rare and minor concern. In fact, running both PPC and SEO can reinforce your business's authority in your industry.

So, when it comes to the PPC vs. SEO debate, don't be overly concerned about PPC stealing your SEO traffic. Instead, focus on crafting a balanced online marketing strategy that leverages the strengths of both approaches to drive success for your business.

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