There has been much talk about how the Internet has revolutionized the ways of business. But most importantly, it has opened the global marketplace for international marketers, making it more accessible, inclusive, and diverse. As such, it allows you to reach a global audience, increasing your chances of profit. This article takes a look at AdWords vs SEO; which gives a better ROI.

In today’s era, digital marketing is a must to attract customers, though it will be difficult with the fierce competition out there. That is why you need a comprehensive strategy that will allow you to win the battle for customers’ attention. However, paraphrasing the famous quote by Sun Tzu, strategy without tactics will not work.

The tactics here are understood as the different marketing activities you can implement for your business, or ask an ad or link building agency to take care for you. Though there are many of them, the two most popular seem to be using AdWords and implementing SEO strategies. But which one of those two offers the best return on your investment?

To answer that question, we will explain what those marketing activities are and how they work, so you can decide which one is better for you. Here is what you need to know:


What Is AdWords?

AdWords vs SEO


To discuss the subject matter – AdWords vs SEO, we must first understand what each of them means. AdWords, or rather Google Ads since 2018, is an advertising platform that allows you to place your ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) for particular keyword phrases you are targeting. It operates on the pay-per-click (PPC) scheme, meaning you will have to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Since Google is the most popular search engine globally, using this platform might help you reach interested leads.

Using Google Ads, you have several options for presenting your products or services:


  • Search Ads:

Those are the ads that appear on top of SERPs, above the organic listings. They look similar to organic listings, but they are differentiated by a bold tag “Ad” that informs you about their purpose.


  • Shopping Ads:

Those are the picture ads working in a carousel format that you will find at the top of the search results page. They can also be placed on the side, next to organic listings. Shopping Ads show multiple products and include information about their price and possible discounts.


  • Local Search Ads:

They are placed at the top of local business listings. For example, when looking for an electrician near you, Google shows a map and a list of potential businesses. There you can find information regarding operating hours or location. Similar to Search Ads, the Local Search Ads will be marked with the tag “Ad.”


  • Display Ads and Google Display Network (GDN):

They show up on sites, articles, and videos that are part of the Google Display Network. It can reach over 90% of Internet users across the globe, which may be a beneficial tool for your strategy. GDN allows you targeting, which means your ads can appear on relevant websites.


As a PPC scheme, Google Ads is more profitable than traditional modes of advertising like billboards or TV since you only pay for actual results. However, it operates on a bidding system, meaning you will have to bid on the relevant keywords and then pay that price when someone clicks on your ad.


Google Ads Pros

Easy and fast results – with Google Ads, your offer can quickly appear at the top of SERPs and business listings, improving traffic to your website. All you have to do is make a bid high enough for the targeted keyword, and Google will do the rest.


Analytics – because of the immediacy of the results, you will have access to valuable data about your campaign performance, allowing you to optimize and adapt accordingly. Moreover, Google is more straightforward with its PPC data. Using Google Analytics, you can determine which ads convert the most customers.


Audience targeting – as mentioned earlier, Google Ads allows you to target your audience based on location, age, gender, and interests. Moreover, it allows you to control which websites your ad will appear on.


You pay only for the results – with a PPC scheme, you only pay for the clicks or, in other words, for each person that visits your website through the ad.


AdWords Cons

Short-term traffic – though the results are immediate, they will last for as long as you are paying for your ads. Once your budget runs out, the ad disappears and with it the traffic it generated. It could be a good strategy for time-limited sales; however, it might not be enough to drive long-term traffic.


Possibly high cost – the most popular tags will drive high bids that later have to be paid per each click. It means that the campaign can be extremely costly in the long run.


Banner blindness – with the prevalence of online advertisements, the audience often consciously or unconsciously ignores information that looks like a banner. Moreover, many users use plug-ins such as AdBlock, which will hide your display ads.


What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing strategy that focuses on improving the visibility of your website on the SERPs for specific queries. According to Sistrix, the first organic result has a 28.5% click-through rate (CTR), whereas the second one has a 15% CTR. Unsurprisingly, the percentage decreases the lower the position. Hence, the higher your position, the more organic traffic you will receive, increasing your chances of converting prospective customers into buyers.

Your position on the SERPs is determined by algorithms that are here to provide the user with content most relevant to their query. They consider factors such as keywords, content quality, the usability of the website, location, and expertise of the sources. Those are only examples, since Google uses around 200 factors to determine its rankings.

SEO is a strategy that will help you optimize those factors so you are assessed as relevant. As such, SEO might be divided into on-page, off-page, technical, and local.


SEO Pros

Brand awareness – if you are on the first SERP spot, your brand will be more visible to potential customers. As such, your image will be enhanced and your reputation improved, which will drive further profit.

Quality content – with a strategy that focuses on quality content, you will be able to attract users interested in your niche but not in your products. Moreover, you will establish yourself as an expert, increasing your credibility and trust among potential customers, which is essential in the business world.

Long-term results – unlike Google Ads, SEO comes with long-lasting results that do not fade when your budget runs out. The effects of the campaign will be visible even after you stop paying for the service. Furthermore, with the quality content already on your website, you may continue to attract an audience.


SEO Cons

Takes time and effort – unlike Google Ads, which is easy to implement, SEO takes time and effort, even if you hire the services of a professional SEO agency. First, you need to optimize your website and monitor its performance.

The same applies to creating quality content. Writing blog posts, building up backlinks, and staying up to date with news in your niche – all are time-consuming processes. Therefore, a few months may pass before you see yourself in Google’s first position.

Highly competitive – there is only one top position and hundreds or even thousands of competitors who also want to see themselves in that spot. Though SEO creates long-term results, you still need to work hard to maintain your position.


Google Ads vs. SEO

Going back to the initial question, which tactic offers a better return on investment – Google Ads or SEO? The short answer is: it depends. Both of those have their pros and cons, and depending on your exact marketing strategy, they will yield different results. That is why you need to determine your exact goals.

SEO might be a better option if your goal is to create awareness for your brand and establish your credibility, since Google Ads works as long as you pay for them. But if you are looking for an instant increase in leads and sales, then Google Ads will give you that powerful boost, whereas SEO would take much more time to see the results.


Final Words

There are many marketing tactics out there, including Google Ads and SEO. Each tactic has its own pros and cons, and you need to determine which of them will be beneficial for you. It is all about reaching your objectives in the most effective way.

With enough research, time, and effort, implementing SEO or Google Ads might be a game-changer in your business. Still, make sure you think everything through, so you do not waste your resources and money.

In the end, it is up to you which one of those two will prove to be more beneficial in your case. But remember that they are not mutually exclusive. You can use both tactics to complement each other and improve your brand’s visibility. So, AdWords vs SEO, which do you prefer?


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