AdWords Vs. SEO

Where to invest your marketing budget?

9 May 2017

In simple terms, no traffic means no sales, little traffic little sales, and more traffic usually means more sales or at least the potential to get more sales although there are of course other factors involved. 

When it comes to driving traffic to your website, the good news is that search engines such as Google provide plenty of opportunity for that. The bad news is you need to invest time and money to see the benefits, so you will have to make some tough decisions around where to invest your online marketing budget. Do you focus on growing visibility in organic search results through SEO or invest in SEM (Search Engine Marketing), which now days typically refers to PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising such as AdWords.

Let’s start by looking at SEO. Firstly, you need to create quality content that is relevant to users’ search queries. The more relevant your web pages are to what users search for, the more likely it is that Google and other search engines rank your pages high up in organic search results. This means using the right keywords and phrases, but refraining from keyword overuse. Search engines are becoming more and more advanced when it comes to interpreting longer-form content, so rather than overusing keywords, construct meaningful content to get better rankings.

Page structure and website navigation is also important for SEO. A structured navigation will make it easier for search engines to index your website, and of course provide a better user experience too – which Google algorithms increasingly keep score on. With traffic no longer just coming from desktop devices, content also needs to be optimised for mobile and tablet, as this impacts user experience and therefore your ranking.

There are other areas to consider too, such as internal linking, site speed, tagged images, meta data, site referrals, regular content updates… And the list goes on. The bottom line is SEO takes time and it is an on-going process, so a mentality of “set and forget” is not going to get you the results you are after.

AdWords on the other hand can get traffic to your website quickly. In a nutshell, you decide on your target audience, determine a budget and set up one or more campaigns tailored specifically for your target audience. Amongst other things you can define when your ad will be displayed, where your audience must be located geographically to see your ad, and whether you want your ad to show only within Google search results or on partner networks and sites too. 

But just like with SEO, a good ad campaign starts with quality content. You need a landing page with a clear message, which then needs to be conveyed in your ad copy and through your keywords to make sure that visitors coming to your landing page see what they expect to see based on what they searched for and saw in your ad. 

With AdWords you only pay if a user clicks on your ad and since you set the campaign budget, you have full control over how much money you spend. The wide range of data reports and automated calculations of key metrics such as click through rate, conversion rate, and average conversion value also make it easy to review ROAS (return on ad spend). This allows you to optimise your campaign, refine ad copy and keywords where required to make sure to keep those users on your website long enough to convert into customers.

Then there is the competition. If you are in a highly competitive market, you may have to invest quite a bit of money to out-bid your competitors to get your ads to show at the top. In saying that, the quality of your ad and landing page also influence your ad rank, so it’s not all about money. 

AdWords can work well for new businesses but also for well established businesses, since it can drive traffic to your website fast and allows you to target the right customers at the right time, so if you want to introduce your brand, promote an offer or launch a new product line, AdWords is the perfect tool to give you instant exposure. Your long-term strategy should utilise SEO to help you climb to the top of organic listings, and once you are there, remember to keep at it to stay there. Your content needs to remain relevant and your website optimised to provide an outstanding user experience, which your customers but also Google have started to care about more and more.

Most businesses these days choose to use both SEO and AdWords, as each is unique in its benefits and they can also work well together. In many ways, AdWords can be a nice add-on to your overall SEO strategy and you can use it to test new keywords before committing them into your overall SEO strategy. Many companies tend to heavily invest into AdWords initially and reduce it as results from SEO increase, so it’s not necessarily about deciding between the two. What’s important is to work out what strategy works best for your business and as the online environment keeps evolving your online strategy has to be able to adapt too. AdWords and SEO are two tools that can help you along the way.


Sina Braeuning

date published:

9 May 2017