One of the most common questions we get asked at Lance Montana is ‘should I be using SEO or AdWords?’ Like most aspects of digital marketing, entire days could be spent trying to get to the bottom of this question. To save you some time and a lot of frustration, here’s a brief guide to choosing between these two tools.
What On Earth is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and it’s an incredibly useful digital marketing technique that focuses on increasing a website’s ranking in search engines. A higher ranking for search terms related to your business, the services you offer or the products you sell means an increase in online visibility and website traffic from potential customers.
In essence, SEO involves producing high quality content relating to your business and optimising it so that it ticks all of the boxes that search engines look for. For example, if you’re trying to rank for the search term ‘organic vegan chocolate’, you could produce a blog article about the health changes you’ll notice after swapping to organic vegan chocolate. Once that’s done, the goal is to get this content shared around the Internet as much as possible (social media is great for this), so that Google notices its relevancy.
And How About AdWords?
You know how the first few results you see in a Google search say ‘ad’ just underneath the title? These search results are powered by Google AdWords, and paid for by the businesses who are listing them. As an advertiser, you can bid on the search terms you think potential customers might be typing into Google, and your ad will be displayed. These ads are ranked in order of how much money you’ve bid on a certain search term, and the relevancy of your website to Google’s audience.
Google AdWords allows you to target customers in specific geographic locations, which is great for businesses that only operate in one particular city or state. It also allows you to carefully monitor and adjust your budget based on the performance of your campaign.
So Which Is Best?
We wish we could give you a clear-cut, definitive answer to whether you should be using SEO or AdWords. But at the end of the day, it depends on the priorities of your business. If you’re needing results immediately, AdWords is your pick. For example, AdWords is great for startups looking to achieve targeted traffic quickly, whether that’s to make sales, gauge market interest or test products.
But, if you’re not looking to spend much money on your search marketing and you’re more interested in long-term benefits, SEO will pay off. In combination with a solid content marketing and social media strategy, SEO will result in lasting increases in brand awareness and website traffic.
Do I Need to Use Both?
This is a highly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Although Google has always argued that its organic and paid search results are not linked, the two sets of results have gradually moved closer together over the years. While the causes of this are difficult to determine, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that paid search results are Google’s main source of revenue.
That being said, Google knows that it has to balance a fine line in order to maintain the credibility of its organic search results, which are essentially what Google’s consumers are there for. And even if Google isn’t actively giving preference to websites that spend more on AdWords, there will undoubtedly be a flow-on effect. Using AdWords to grow traffic will increase the likelihood of people seeing and sharing your content, which is a big part of SEO. So if you have the means, don't spend time debating between SEO or AdWords - use both.
While SEO and AdWords are two very different marketing tools, their goal is the same – to increase traffic and sales. If you’d like some advice on the best way for your business to do this, reach out! Our digital marketing experts are happy to recommend a few different options based on your budget and goals.