Adwords and SEO are the main components of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and are among your most valuable tools when running digital marketing campaigns.
They have differences and similarities and there are situations that you should use them together or separately depending on your business and marketing goals.
What is Google AdWords?
If you are new to digital marketing, you may have heard people talking about PPC, Adwords and terms like CPC, bids and campaigns without knowing what these buzzwords mean. Don’t worry, the purpose of this post is to clear things out. Let’s get started.
Google Adwords is an advertising platform owned by Google. Advertisers can use this platform to position their ads in the Google Search Result Pages, Google Products (YouTube, Gmail etc) and to thousands of other websites that participate in the AdWords program as publishers (that’s Google Adsense).
As advertiser, you can choose to pay when someone clicks on your ad (Cost Per Click or CPC) or when people see your ad (CPM or Cost per Thousands Impressions).
The whole Adwords system works like a big auction where advertisers compete for the available advertising places.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO has to do with getting better rankings in the search engine results pages of Google, Yahoo, Bing and other major search engines. In order to achieve that, you need to make sure that your website is search engine friendly.
A search engine friendly website can be ‘read’ easily by search engines and used with ease by users.
You can read my SEO tips for the most important configurations you need to apply to your website to make it search engine friendly but the general idea is to have a fast and functional website with unique content that offers a good experience to the end user.
AdWords VS SEO
Now that you have a general idea of what is adwords and SEO let’s see how they compare:
- Adwords is for Google sites and websites that use Google Adsense while SEO principles are applicable for all search engines.
- Adwords traffic is paid while SEO traffic is free (this is the believe in the industry but I will explain in another post why it is not exactly true)
- Adwords ads appear on the top and bottom of Google Search Results and under certain conditions you can get one of those ad positions, but with SEO you have to work much harder to get one of the top positions in the organic search results.
- Adwords is more immediate than SEO since you can create advertising campaigns almost instantly and start getting targeted traffic while with SEO you need a lot more time (especially for new websites) to get good rankings and traffic.
- With Adwords is easier to calculate the ROI while with SEO is more difficult because there are a lot more factors that play a role and not just ad spending and revenue.
- When you stop your adwords campaigns traffic also stops but once you start getting organic traffic with SEO, this will continue long term.
- With Adwords you can target many keywords at the same time while with SEO you need to focus on a few keywords for best results.
- With Adwords you can advertise on other Google websites and websites that use Google Adsense but the results from SEO are only for the search results pages.
You can also read my previous article: What is the difference between SEO and PPC for more examples on how these two tools differ.
Which is the best for your Marketing?
New companies can start with AdWords
When we started out as a pure SEO agency, the main goal in our internet marketing campaigns was to help our customers get traffic from Search Engines through SEO.
This is still our major goal today but through the years and from our experience working with clients in different niches we realised that business owners sometimes need results faster and more immediate and this is where Adwords comes into play.
The biggest advantage of Adwords over SEO is that it can generate results faster.
You will have to pay for each of the visits you get from adwords but if your campaigns are profitable you can justify the investment in PPC and meet your business objectives.
Adwords is ideal for startups and new companies that want to get targeted traffic quickly for the purpose of making sales, finding new customers or even for testing their products, procedures, website effectiveness and any other component in their sales or marketing processes.
The above is true, if you use AdWords wisely and carefully. It is very easy to start spending money on AdWords and if you don’t have proper monitoring and control tools you will end up making losses instead of profits.
What I always tell my clients about Adwords is that if you don’t use it correctly it will be like playing in a Casino where you spend money with the wishful thinking that sometimes you will get it back, but you never do!
So, while the system is easy to use (so that you spend more), if you don’t have the knowledge and experience to run Adword Campaigns, save your money and hire professional companies (preferably Adwords Partners) to do it for you.
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This is the best approach so that you don’t lose money but benefit from the use of Adwords.
Don’t forget about SEO
While is a good idea to start with Adwords because it’s faster, you should also begin working with SEO, Content marketing and social media for best results. These 3 tools are all you need for long term online success.
Content marketing will help you create the right content, SEO will help you optimize your content for search engines and get more organic traffic and social media will promote your SEO optimized content to a wider audience.
Should I use Adwords and SEO at the same time?
Some people argue that when you get SEO traffic you don’t need to use adwords but this is a wrong approach.
Even if you have good rankings, you can still use Adwords and get more exposure for the same keywords that you get SEO traffic.
You can measure the performance of your Adwords campaigns and if they are profitable you can even increase your budgets for a higher ROI.
So, which is the best to use for marketing, SEO or Adwords?
The answer is straightforward, both. Use Adwords to start getting traffic and in parallel work on your SEO, content marketing plan and social media campaigns so that you get organic traffic and visits from social networks.
Adwords and SEO are not competitors but they are two powerful tools available in your digital marketing arsenal.
You can use adwords when you want traffic fast but you need SEO for long term and sustainable online success.