As you know, SEO is “search engine optimization” which means the application of various techniques designed to drive your website to the top of Google’s search results, thus increasing the amount of traffic that gets directed there. AdWords is Google’s “CPC” (cost per click) advertising network which shows adverts just above the search results and charges you each time someone clicks on one of them.
When it comes to SEO vs. Adwords, which should you choose? Are you thinking of handling only one of them? Or should you use them both in unison?
Pros and Cons
Both AdWords and SEO have a number of unique advantages and distinct drawbacks. For starters, SEO is more affordable as it’s something you can do yourself, or that you can pay for someone else to do for a one-time fee. Once you stop putting effort into SEO, you’ll find that your site remains high in Google for a long time – until the algorithm changes or some new competition comes along. In terms of ROI then, SEO is potentially the better deal because you can keep getting benefits years later after a one-time investment. That said, as you only pay for AdWords when you get a click, it can’t ‘fail’ to provide some ROI if your site is well monetized.
Unfortunately, SEO is also somewhat unreliable. You can work for years on SEO and find that you never get to the top because the competition is simply too great. Likewise, it only takes for Google to change their algorithm for all your efforts to be undone. For a while, people were even pronouncing the death of SEO (actually this has been going on for years and is unlikely to stop any time soon).
Then you have to think about what people are more likely to click. Sure, the sponsored links appear above the organic results but some people don’t really like clicking on adverts. Ultimately, it’s all going to come down to your business model and the nature of your business/niche. Some items will sell better through AdWords, others will sell better through organic search.
Here’s a bit more debate on which you should use…
How to Use Them Together
Best of all though, is to use both AdWords and SEO synergistically (don’t you just love that word?). Rather than deciding to use one or the other, think instead about how you can combine them for maximum results.
If you have done your SEO and paid for and AdWords campaign, then this will mean that you now hold two positions on the results pages for the same item. Of course this greatly increases your chances of being clicked. Better yet though, is using your AdWords campaigns in order to test which keywords are most valuable for you before then investing lots of time and effort into your SEO. This way you can avoid doing SEO for a term that won’t lead to any sales. Here’s more on using AdWords for keyword research.
You can even get AdSense involved too (CPC banner ads that appear on websites). One way to do this is with something called ‘Google Remarketing‘. This essentially places cookies on a user’s computer when they view certain pages of your site, thus allowing you to show them tailored ads. If they were looking at buying some DVDs for instance, then you can show those same DVDs later on to see if you can entice them to complete the transaction.
Stop thinking in terms of black or white and ‘either or’ and instead start asking how you can leverage all the resources available to you for maximum results.