SEO vs Adwords – which is best?

The practice of search engine optimisation (SEO) certainly looks very different today than it did 5 years ago. Even for professionals working in the SEO business 24/7, it can be hard to stay ahead of the curve. Not surprisingly, when Adwords is straight-forward to understand and measure in comparison to SEO, many clients ask where their budget is best placed.

In our experience, there is a strong case for running Adwords campaigns while you build organic rankings for key search terms. In this article, we explain how Adwords and SEO can work hand-in-hand.

The case for Adwords

Generally speaking, we are strong advocates of Adwords, especially when clients are targeting particularly competitive search terms. The benefit of Adwords is that they can give immediate visibility for a particular set of search terms. Plus, you can measure your return on investment straight away, by noting which Adwords attract the most clicks and conversions.

If you are targeting a particularly competitive set of keywords and are unlikely to achieve organic rankings in the near future, you can achieve a good ROI by running an SEO and an Adwords campaign concurrently.

Your Adwords campaign can be used to achieve visibility for particularly competitive search terms while you build your presence on Google for either the same set of target keywords or for an alternative set of important yet less competitive search terms.

Lots of clients use Adwords to target keywords for which an organic ranking is out of reach, for example, when organic rankings are dominated by big high street chains or well-known competitor brands. This enables them to focus SEO efforts on achieving organic rankings for important but less competitive keywords.

The case for SEO

So if Adwords can generate a fast and easy-to-measure return, why invest in SEO?

• The fact is, organic rankings remain the most attractive to potential customers. Visitors are still more likely to click on the top 3 organic rankings than they are on any of the Adwords. As a result, organic rankings remain the Holy Grail for e-commerce.

• Organic rankings can be more cost-effective in the long-run. Once you achieve a high organic ranking you will need to do some work to maintain it, but it won’t be as budget-thirsty as good Adwords visibility for target keywords.

• Organic rankings are also good for your brand. To be seen on page one (and in a high position) for your target keywords sends a strong message to your customers. Plus, you’re more secure against your competitors. With Adwords, if a competitor comes along with a bigger budget, they’ll get more visibility than you. With SEO, a bigger budget doesn’t necessarily give better results. SEO success is as much about the right approach as it is the size of your marketing spend.

As you can see, there’s a balance between Adwords and SEO, certainly in the short to medium term. The key is to integrate your Adwords and SEO strategies so that both work together to draw the highest volume of potential customers to your website. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your Adwords or SEO further, please get in touch.