This article was updated 11/2016 to reflect changes in the industry.
Search engine optimization and AdWords offer optimal targeting of soaring traffic key phrases. On the other hand, in terms of internet marketing, they hold opposing views.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is a method of digital marketing that focuses on making your website content relevant to search engines. SEO or Search Engine Optimization helps you to rank higher in the organic, or natural, search results. Properly implemented SEO optimizes your site in terms of keywords, content, links, and other technical aspects.
By optimizing these areas, search engines see your site as the most relevant result, and, as such, put your site in a primary spot on the search engine results page (SERP). SEO is the process of getting more traffic to your website by getting the site listed and ranked highly for queries relating to your product, market, or business in the natural or organic search results.
To learn more about SEO, read SEJ’s The Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
What is Google AdWords?
Adwords is an advertising platform created by Google that makes it possible for you to position your advertisement on the top or right-hand side of the search results pages on Google and other affiliate websites. This is what AdWords ads look like in the search results:
AdWords allows you to target internet user’s search queries and display your offers every time they look for a similar product. The visitor then clicks on your advertisement and it takes them to your site or landing page.
With Adwords, your business listing can be displayed alongside the natural search results when people search for specific keyword phrases in Google. Search results displayed by Google Adwords are also called Pay Per Click (PPC) results because you shell out money for every click on one of your ads. We’ve illustrated the difference between the natural or organic search results and the paid Adwords search results below.
SEO Versus AdWords
The best practice is to use a mixture of both SEO and Adwords to keep your brand top of mind for internet searchers. Even though you rank in top positions in the organic search results, you should still consider using AdWords to target users who might not be as familiar with your brand.
Here are a few other factors to consider when debating how much of your resources to spend on SEO and AdWords.
- SEO requires more time for results than AdWords, but can result in a high rank in Google for an amount of key search terms. There’s no charge per click linked with the organic search results, but on the other hand, ongoing work is necessary to sustain your search engine rankings with SEO.
- Adwords can be switched on and off instantaneously, while SEO can take a lot longer to make an effect on search results
- Adwords pretty much guarantees your business will be displayed in the search results. There is no assurance you’ll rank in the organic search results through SEO.
- SEO targets high traffic keywords mentioned in your website. (Just don’t keyword stuff)
- Adwords also permits you to respond quickly to a shifting marketplace by targeting new terms visitors may be looking for. This can be very useful for e-commerce businesses.
- Adwords ads are displayed on top of the organic listings. On some screens (particularly on mobile) this area is all the user can see without scrolling.
- Adwords targets abundant variations that you have around particular keywords and allows you to use negative keywords, so you can avoid ranking for terms that aren’t a good match for your brand.
- AdWords runs on a variety of websites that register for Google Ads, so your site may gain more exposure.
- Adwords is a rapid method for generating quality leads and sales.
- If SEO is stopped, the ranking of a website decreases over a period of time due to constant algorithm updates by Google.
- SEO also optimizes the quality and quantity of incoming links to your website.
- AdWords pulls instant traffic from the start of the campaign. This is useful for new websites or services and products that are seasonal.
You don’t have to choose between SEO and AdWords. These are two very different tools you can use to reach the same goal: an increase in sales and traffic.
It is also very important to keep the user in mind. Above all, provide high-quality content that is actually useful to your readers. Do not “over optimize” it to get better placements. You need to keep relevant content that actually transforms your clicks into business!