Organic SEO vs Googles AdWords: Which is best for my business?

Organic SEO vs Googles AdWords: Which is best for my business?

We should all know the differences by now of what appears naturally in our searches as opposed to the paid for ads (AdWords). The question often asked is which is best? The short answer is neither. It completely depends on your situation, aims and market that you are in. It really helps to know your prospective clients and how they use the web, then you can strategise accordingly. This is important as to how each of these two strategies will perform.

Most medium sized businesses and marketing companies would say that a mixture of both is the best solution, taking us back to our first point that neither is better. The reality is that for many small businesses that simply isn’t an option due to budget restrictions or the amount of business they can provide compared to the cost (ROI). For example if you are a local business like a dentist, you probably already have some clients with only a limited amount of new business or customers you can handle. So the cost and time factors are obviously important so it’s not an option to pursue both.

The general consensus for most SMB’s is that SEO will long term give a better a better ROI. When done well, a well implemented SEO campaign will deliver more because the amount of clicks are not being paid for, and it will also normally work on other platforms like Bing and Yahoo etc, whereas AdWords is for Google only.

Key factors involved with their success

Another key element to consider when broadly determining what is the best option between SEO and PPC (pay per click like AdWords) is what type of site and business you have. By this I mean that if you have an eCommerce site then AdWords can be fantastic as Google gives an option for “Product Listing Ads” which dramatically improve click through rate. AdWords for services like Plumbers, Dentists etc need to have dedicated landing pages to boost click through. The problem being that when you are buying a bottle of Chanel No 5 you know what it is. It will be the same from whoever provided it, the only difference will be the price, stock and delivery time. If you are a dentist then it comes down to skill, reputation, reviews, distance, facilities etc etc. There is a lot of suspicion with AdWords regarding this key difference between shopping cart sites and services. As anyone can pay to appear does that necessarily make them good? Of course not, hence the lower click through for these types of small business. Generally you should ask yourself this: Do I click on AdWords?

With regards to SEO a lot of SMB’s tend to struggle to get started or get good results due to not getting their strategy right at the start. A local businessman with little competition for a high value and high profit service will likely do well with SEO, but someone with many services and competitors who is aiming at too many misunderstood markets will likely get little or no return. This is where the skill of a good marketing company comes in, to get the basics right at the start. Sadly a lot of businessmen do not take good advice, or worse, actually take bad advice. Arguing that you know better with a professional marketing company seems pointless when you are paying them to do what you obviously can’t. In the SEO, PPC and Social Media world it’s easy to think you know what to do or be burnt by unscrupulous companies meaning that the correct choice of what is best for your business often passes you by or is deemed bad.

In short, SEO drives 75% of search engine traffic averagely takes 15% of a marketing budget, whereas PPC gets less than 25% of all search traffic but yet gets 80% of marketing budgets. This is illogical until you consider the attraction of instant results, but with a massive bounce rate you can see why so much budget is just wasted. Businesses are ignoring the long term benefits of SEO driven traffic in favour of a short term instant win. And all those expensive paid per click mistakes goes straight into Googles wallet with absolutely no long term benefit to you or your site.

Simple Pros and Cons of AdWords

  • Pros:
  • Instant page 1 results and traffic
  • Complete control over budget
  • Agility to quickly switch your campaign or target market
  • Remarketing to visitors who didn’t buy or connect
  • Measurability with instant stats on whats working and whats not
  • Cons:
  • Cost – AdWords are deemed expensive especially if bounce rate is high
  • Competitors can cost you by clicking on you from various devices
  • Very complicated to do yourself with any success
  • If your budget runs out you disappear completely
  • Success also requires building of decent landing pages
  • Limit on characters describing your products and services
  • Can be outbid by competitors for Ads

Simple Pros and Cons of Organic SEO

  • Pros:
  • Infinite traffic with no extra cost
  • Long lasting results even after stopping work
  • Also rank for many non targeted key phrases
  • Overall cost for an ROI is a lot lower
  • SEO costs are variable
  • You can help your own results
  • You build trust and credibility to you brand
  • You can capitalise on weak competition
  • Your site will gain domain authority
  • Your businesses worth will be increased
  • Cons:
  • Relies on a good strategy and advice
  • Takes time, normally 3 to 6 months minimum
  • There is no guarantee
  • Relies on content more than ever

There is no real answer to which is best as stated at the beginning, but hopefully it’s clear that knowing your market, and the type of site you have are key in deciding between the two strategies if like most businesses you are not in a position to do both. If one thing is an ever present it’s getting it right at the start. A flawed marketing strategy is doomed to fail from the start if the basic questions have been skipped, or a business owners own aims are overriding the advice of professionals. If you are armed with good information from the start, then you are likely to end up with a good strategy that will pay dividends, no matter whether it is SEO or AdWords.

Looking at the list though and the stats provided by Moz that the lure of instant results AdWords cripples the decision to aim for the long term benefits of natural organic SEO.