What Should I Use for My Marketing: SEO, AdWords, or Both?

Your website should deliver increased sales for your business. SEO and AdWords are both strategies that can help you achieve this. Which is best, however? Should you use both? Here is a comparison of what you can expect from both strategies.


  • AdWords – you can launch an AdWords campaign in less than a day, generating immediate results.
  • SEO – SEO is more of a slow build that delivers results over time.


  • AdWords – as AdWords is a PPC (pay per click) form of advertising, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Also, you can control the amount of money you spend on a daily basis.
  • SEO – if you use an SEO service, there is usually an initial fee and then an ongoing, lower fee to help keep your website as high as possible in search engine rankings. In many cases, SEO costs more initially but over time it becomes the cheaper of the two options.


  • AdWords – AdWords delivers immediate results so you can determine ROI very quickly. This is because you will know how much you spend, the number of leads generated, and the number of sales you make. Assuming you have optimised your campaign, you must continue spending at the same level to continue getting results.
  • SEO – the results you get from SEO will take longer to come in so the ROI will not be as good initially. SEO actions you take now, however, deliver long-term results. This means the returns you get on an SEO investment will overtake the ROI you get from AdWords.


  • AdWords – to compete in a strong AdWords market you must laser target your campaigns and, in most cases, increase your budget per click. This will reduce ROI.
  • SEO – dealing with strong competition is a challenge for SEO too, but there are options. Specifically, you can target local searches and long-tail keywords.

Beating the Competition

      • AdWords – it can be easy for your competitors to create a more optimised AdWords campaign or to increase the budget they are prepared to spend. This can result in a competitor’s ad appearing in a better position than yours overnight.
      • SEO – the fact SEO takes time to have an effect can work to your advantage. Specifically, if you have a good position in a search results page for a crucial keyword, it will be hard for your competitors to dislodge you so long as you maintain SEO good practice.


      • AdWords – you have a lot of targeting options available when running an AdWords campaign. This includes targeting by interest, targeting people that have previously visited your website, targeting people on your email list, and targeting lookalike audiences.
      • SEO – your targeting options are more limited with SEO. The main option you have is to focus your efforts on particular keywords. For example, focusing on keywords with buying intent, not just keywords related to your industry.

Algorithm Updates

      • AdWords – AdWords can change the way it works but those changes are rarely disruptive.
      • SEO – with SEO, you are at the mercy of Google’s search algorithm. When Google changes this algorithm, the position of your website could go up or down.

Search Results Page Position

      • AdWords – Google puts up to four ads at the top of a search results page, ahead of the organic results. This is the most visible position on the page.
      • SEO – even when you get to position one in the organic search results, AdWords’ ads will appear before you.

Credibility and Branding

      • AdWords – AdWords can have a positive effect on brand awareness, but it’s not as good as SEO.
      • SEO – SEO is excellent at increasing the awareness of your brand. In addition, many people scroll past ads to get to the organic search results. You will enhance the credibility of your brand if you have a high organic position on the page.

Integrated Approach

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both SEO and AdWords. For many businesses, it is not a decision of one or the other. Instead, they use both strategies, allocating part of their budget to each. This means you get the immediate benefits that PPC offers and the long-term benefits of SEO.

An integrated approach is often the best way to maximise traffic, leads, and conversions.