seo vs ppc as a digital marketing career path

Disclosure: I’m writing presenting my personal views as a someone who is passionate about SEO; I enjoy it immensely. By saying that, I’ll try to give you my 99.99% unbiased view to help you decide which digital marketing career path is right for you: SEO or PPC (a.k.a search engine marketing, SEM).

In the last 20-25 years (from Kindergarten to Degree) I have learned more than 200-250 subjects (ohhh….that Engineering Workshop/Practicals…. Remember). I even learned Smith Shop, Carpentry in my First Year of Engineering.

I have learned that AWESOME concepts of Pythagoras, Sin, Cos, Tan, and the list will take the whole page.

Just wondering have you ever used them in real life or job that you are doing? Anywhere? (If yes, please comment below).

They are so useless? right? —- No. They are not useless. We just do not use them directly. They are present indirectly everywhere.

While in my PGDM – I’m studying HR, Marketing, Finance, FinTech, Consumer Behaviour etc. FYI, my specialization is E-Commerce.

So, my point is, we study many subjects but master only one. Right?

In your professional life also, you will be hired for some single role. You just need to know the basics of other related things.

E.g. I’m Project Manager in my company. My role is to manage a team, guide them, communicating with the clients, meeting with Boss, and deliver the project successfully.

But what if my team member comes to me and asks, ‘Can I smoke inside the cubicle?’ or ‘Can I take office chair at home?’ or ‘Can I just get double salary this month? :)’

Now, I should know to whom to send him. It’s HR right. I should be able to tell him that you can not smoke inside the office, can not take the office chair at home, or can not just get the double salary as these do not fit in the company rules.

On the other hand, I should know that this needs to be conveyed to the concern HR person.

In the same way, when you are doing or thinking of doing your ‘Digital Marketing Course’. You should first understand the things comes under the umbrella.

Promotional Techniques in Digital Marketing

There are two major parts ‘Paid Promotions’ and ‘Free Promotions’ involved in the process of ‘Digital Marketing’.

  1. Paid Online Marketing Promotion Ways:

There are tons of paid promotions ways for Digital marketing need. You will find a huge (growing….) list of such paid platforms and techniques for both desktop and mobile (including Apps) devices.

I’m not going in too much detail. Just for your under giving you a few tools and ways that a Digital Marketer should know if he is into paid advertising vertical.

1.1 PPC (Pay Per Click) – People call it AdWords

  • Google AdWords
  • Bing AdWords
  • YouTube Ads
  • Google Local/Maps

1.2 Social Media

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn and so on….

Almost every social platform now has announced their paid promotion features.

1.3 Content Marketing

There tons of content marketing platforms which offers paid content promotions. Some are:

  • Taboola
  • Columbia Media
  • Outbrain
  • HubSpot

You can go through the awesome article here

1.4 Mobile Ads

  • Google play store
  • Unity
  • Amazon
  • Facebook Messenger app also has paid ads in it

1.5 Affiliate

  • Paid product reviews on Affiliate network
  • Paid blog post on the third party website

1.6 Email Marketing

  • Paid Email Campaigns using tools like MailChimp
  1. Free Promotional Ways in Online Marketing

You must be wondering, I have already mentioned so many tools and techniques above in the Paid promotions, so why you would need these Free digital promotion ways.  You can just invest money and get the paid digital marketing campaigns started.

Correct! You can do that.

But what if you don’t have a big budget? The paid promotions involved money –  a lot of money…..see how big brands are putting their millions in running paid campaigns everywhere.





and so on….

2.1 SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is one of the Freeways of digital marketing. In SEO, you need to optimize your website so that Google considers its good source of information to its users. There are more than 250+ factors which influence this SEO process.

SEO process mainly consists of two parts:

  • On-page SEO – Changes that we make on the website.
  • Off-Page SEO – Free promotional activities to build authority, backlinks, and social signals for the website.

Content Marketing – This is the common area. Writing high-quality content for the high authority websites like Forbes, HubSpot where they post your content for free and linking back to your website

Depending on the business or website vertical the SEO process can be done for the following industry.

  • E-Commerce SEO – For brands like Amazon, Flipkart
  • International (Global) SEO – Global brands like BMW
  • Local SEO – Local businesses like dentists near you

2.2 Social Media

Ummmhhh…..I know I have already mentioned social media promotions in the paid section, but you can still use it for Free digital marketing activities. How?

  • Facebook Pages
  • Facebook Groups and Communities
  • Google+ Pages
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp

Along with the paid promotions, these social media platforms allow you to market online organically as in free. So, don’t confuse here.

In the same way, you can do Email Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, YouTube/Videos promotions, etc.

Now, the above part must have given you a brief idea about ways that one can do digital marketing. But you must ask, how is this related to the topic title ‘Choose Your Expert Area in Digital Marketing?’.

Valid question!

‘Digital Marketing’ from a Business Perspective.

Before choosing Digital Marketing as a career option. You must under it’s business side. What actually businesses, brands need and want from it?

Consider, you run a dental clinic in your area. You want to do online marketing for your dental clinic. What would you do? You will either invest money in Paid Campaigns or Follow Free Ways of online marketing. Right?

See the below table for comparison between paid and free digital marketing ways of promoting a brand or business online.


Paid Digital Marketing Promotions

Free Digital Marketing Ways

Need good budget No budget is needed
Short-term results (No money – No show) Long-term results
Visible in ‘Paid’ sections on Google or Social Visibility in an Organic pack or Local Listing pack
Instant results Need some time to get results
May need expert help DIY project

Now, in the first two parts, you must have understood the ‘Digital Marketing’ from promotions and business views.

Career Options in Digital Marketing Technologies

Here comes the crucial part now! As a Digital Marketing Student what job you should choose?

Well, that depends on subject understanding, comfortability, and your interest. Also, please note that being a ‘Digital Marketing’ professional you should know the concepts, basics of both the sectors no matter what your job role is.

Like I’m mainly involved into Organic part i.e. SEO side of the business. It doesn’t mean I know nothing about Paid campaigns.

Off-course I should know the paid campaigns as well. But that is not my main subject. That is what we have been doing since our schools and colleges. We studied Chemistry – where I came to know about atoms, molecules, pH, etc. but if you ask me to create some medicine out of it, is that possible for me without any involvement in the subject? No.

In the same way, if I want to work on both the sides of Digital Marketing, I should be involved in the practical side.

In companies, it is very rare that you will get this kind of job. Most of the company want people having these two skill sets as different entities.

  1. Digital Marketing Career Options as PPC/SEM Professional:

If you choose SEM side/paid promotion side, you will be:

  • Mainly involved in paid campaigns.
  • Managing big budgets (if any) in Google Adwords, Facebook or any other paid campaigns.
  • Proving estimates on ROI, Competitors budgets etc
  • Doing research for paid verticals – keywords, banner ads, display network, etc

So basically, everything that relates to marketing online paid campaigns.


PPC job role and responsibilities

Job Description of SEM/PPC Executive. Source

Career Pros:

  • Big brands like Amazon, Flipkart, MasterCard, etc spend a lot. Sometimes there budget is more than a million.
  • You may get a job in this kind of brands or agencies who worked with them.
  • As the campaigns involved money and decisions are to be made instantly, your decision-making skills will be sharpened.

Career Cons:

  • Very competitive sector. I see fewer jobs as compared to SEO.

sem ppc jobs in india

PPC Jobs in India. Source:

seo jobs in india

SEO Jobs in India. Source:

  • Google itself provides free Google AdWords campaign help. They literally have call center support, where people can call and get the Adwords help for their campaign.
  • So, you guys are indirectly competing with them
  • Do you think, a small business owner running AdWords of Rs. 50,000/- (monthly) will pay you extra 5,000 to just manage the account?
  • As per my research, the industry standard rate for managing AdWords account is around 10% of the budget or min 3-5k. So, if a business owner runs a campaign of 10k, will he pay you 3k?
  • If you are in this PPC job, the small company will expect that you should at least manage 10 accounts. So, that they make some profit.
  • Client want instant results
  • The client can keep a close watch on each and every penny you spend on paid campaigns
  1. Digital Marketing Career Options as an SEO Professional:

As an SEO professional you would be doing or involved in:

  • On page and off-page promotions
  • Content marketing and promotions
  • Content planning and strategies
  • Sometimes in social media tasks too

SEO job role and responsibilities

Job Description of SEO Executive. Source

Career Pros:

  • Even big brands are utilizing SEO for their online growth.
  • Exposure to Google analytics tools
  • Get a job in a big as well as small companies.
  • Monthly fees for the project are fixed. So, the funds keep coming.
  • The project life is more as compared to PPC one.
  • Even after SEO is stopped, the client still gets leads from the past optimization work, hence the chances of a client coming back are high.
  • As an SEO, the salaries are high as compared to PPC
  • Tasks are not instant, you have at least a small window time to do the optimization

Career Cons:

  • Google does not provide any specific help for SEOs. They just guide. They won’t let you know why your rankings are dropped.
  • You need to keep yourself updated with algorithms.
  • Requires ongoing work, then only you will be able to provide results
  • You need to prove your results by collecting various data. Alike PPC you can not show your client where did you spend his money on SEO. You need to convince him that you have done the work which helped in keywords ranking, branding, and organic traffic.
  • You can not track each lead. You can not claim the phone call, if a visitor type ‘prashant wakode digital marketing agency number’, and Google display that number directly in the answer box.

Now the main questions!

What are SEO and PPC Salaries in India?

To my knowledge, now Digital Marketing skills are in demand. Every other company is investing into SEO, PPC, Social Media, etc. So, the salary of a digital marketing executive at fresher level is almost same as the other jobs in IT field.

Again, that will vary company to company. I’ve seen some companies in offer 15-25k as a starting salary for Digital Marketing Fresher.


There are a lot of different factors which you may like to consider before choosing the PPC or SEO job. The profile depends on factors like your interest, skills, and knowledge you acquired.

I’m giving you some free resources where you can see the discussions and decide your career path.

So, my area is SEO. What’s yours?

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