SEO vs PPC (Google Adwords)

By Joel Payne Google AdWords Marketing Comments Off on SEO vs PPC (Google Adwords)

Google Adwords

What are SEO and PPC / Google Adwords and Which Approach is Right for Your Business?

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation” it’s an umbrella term that covers all of the many strategies and techniques utilized to improve the rankings of a particular website in search engine results. Search Engine optimization is focused on achieving higher rankings for “natural” or “organic” search results.

Organic search results are the unpaid positions in the search rankings that are based exclusively on the search engines evaluation of how likely the pages’ content is to be relevant and useful to a particular user’s search terms.

However, just because SEO’s focus is on organic rankings that doesn’t mean SEO is free. Effective SEO strategy requires diligent skillful analysis of metrics to gain insights and excellent consistent content creation as well as a multitude of additional skills. You either devote a considerable amount of your own time to learning the fundamentals of effective SEO practice, hire an employee to work on your SEO, or you should hire an agency like Digital Squad with significant SEO expertise. Either way, it’s a necessary investment for your business’s future success.

As 92% of all online searches are undertaken utilizing Google search it is the primary focus for SEO strategy. But SEO doesn’t just improve your search rankings on Google, but across search engines (including Yahoo and Bing).

As people increasingly turn to search engines for all manner of tasks from choosing a restaurant to buying a car. It has become a necessity that your long-term marketing strategy contains effective SEO, regardless of the specifics of your business.

SEO doesn’t only create value through direct conversions in the short term. Ranking highly for search terms relevant to your products or services increases brand trust and awareness over time. This is likely lead to a higher market share further down the road.

No payment to the search engine company is involved in Organic results, which is how SEO primarily differs from PPC or Google Adwords.


SEO Tactics can be split into two broad categories, On-page and off page SEO.

On-Page SEO covers the range of tactics to optimize individual web pages to make them more readable to search engines and more engaging for users. This helps improve their page rank and relevance to the specific search queries you’re trying to target.

There are a number of necessary On Page elements that should be optimized in order to improve Search Engine ranking. These include:

  • Adapting the HTML
  • UX design
  • Ensuring compatibility across devices and platforms
  • Keyword targeting
  • Authorship and Metadata
  • Crawler/Bot Accessibility
  • Accuracy of URL descriptions

A number of On-Page SEO changes will not only improve the visibility and rankings of your web page but also provide a whole host of additional benefits.

Off Page SEO:

Off page SEO or off-site SEO refers to all the factors that can’t be influenced by simply making adjustments to companies existing web pages.

This primary tactic of SEO is building credible backlinks. The more external links leading to a particular domain the more credible and valuable a website appears to a search engine. There are several different means to acquire valuable links.

There are also non-link related elements that contribute to off-site SEO including:

  • Social media marketing
  • Guest blogging
  • Influencer marketing

What exactly is PPC / Google Adwords?

PPC marketing stands for Pay-Per-Click marketing. It’s a model of online marketing where companies pay for the site visits they receive through advertising. This is in contrast with SEO, which attempts to achieve site visits organically.

The most popular PPC marketing channel is by far Google Adwords. Google Adwords operates by allowing companies to bid for position in Google’s paid Advertised posts, which include the top 1-4 search results at the top of a Google’s search.

Every time a Google search is conducted Google immediately selects from its pool of Adwords campaigns that are targeted towards the specific keywords searched. It then selects the successful advertisements to display in sequential order based on a number of criteria. The combination of factors that influence the placement of an Adwords Ad includes: Relevance of the ads particular keywords and ad copy, quality of the landing page and the ad itself as well as the maximum bid the company is willing to pay.

It’s important to note, Google only charges you the minimum amount required to outbid your competitors, not your whole maximum bid.

Of course, being charged for every click you receive is a disadvantageous compared to receiving organic traffic. But don’t think this means PPC doesn’t have its place. For specific paid search listings the clicks generated through Adwords Ads beat click volume of organic traffic by a 2:1 margin; primarily because of the prime search engine real estate Adwords ads dominate. This means 64% of users click on an ad when they’re looking to buy a particular product (Source: Wordstream).

A well run Adwords campaign should calculate the value of a specific click for your website, making the amount you bid for search result real estate, and page visits trivial compared to the amount your ads allow you to generate.

Greatly simplified, if you happened to be marketing a pair of trainers costing $100 with a profit of $50 per sale, and you calculate roughly 2% of people visiting the landing page convert (1 in 50), you can calculate that your absolute maximum bid should be less than $1(you should then end up paying significantly less). This approach will guarantee your Adwords campaign would generate a positive return on investment.

Should you be using Google Adwords, or exclusively SEO?

 The ideal marketing plan for the vast majority of companies should combine utilization of both SEO and Adwords. As both strategies have major benefits as well as significant drawbacks.

While for traditional marketing techniques such as billboards there are no honest accurate means of measuring ROI. This is a huge advantage of digital marketing including both SEO and Adwords- real-time metrics are available for scrutiny providing analytical data and giving an in-depth insight into all elements of customer behavior. Some of the most valuable metrics available include clicks, click-through-rate, rankings, conversion rates and bounce rates.

A further advantage SEO and Adwords both hold over traditional TV or Billboard marketing campaigns is that they are primarily utilized to specifically target customers further along in the customer journey. Think about it, if you’re searching for “Tree Pruning services in Auckland” you’re much more likely to be ready to invest in that service than whoever happens to pass a specific billboard advertising Arborists.

One of the primary advantages of PPC/Adwords campaigns is that they can achieve immediate results regardless of whether you’re an established company or a fresh business venture.

Partially because of the immediacy of Adwords campaigns, it’s considerably easier to demonstrate whether they are achieving a positive ROI than it is to do the same for SEO.

However, a huge drawback is that once an Adwords when you pause or end a campaign, all traffic gained through the campaign immediately ceases. In contrast, once you’ve developed your SEO it will continue to drive leads for you.

On the other hand, SEO takes time and investment before gaining significant results. As improving factors influencing page ranking such as high-quality backlinks takes time, obtaining results in SEO is a continuous and ongoing process. However, once your company does begin to achieve those desired first-page results the payoffs can be enormous! On top of this, each result becomes essentially free traffic, transforming your landing pages into the hardest working sales team!

With Digital Squads specialized SEO services we help accelerate your progress to the first page of Google for the search terms that matter most to your business. This will boost your business by making sure your investment more than pays you back, by generating free leads 24/7!

We also have experts on hand who can develop and refine an Adwords campaign to best target customers for your products and services leading to a positive ROI for your business in the short to immediate term.

Adwords and SEO are not conflicting tactics, they both complement each other nicely. You should be running Adwords campaigns to generate those immediate short-term leads while creating content and enhancing SEO for longer term more sustainable success.

Need help with either or both? Get in touch with Digital Squad today on 0800 111 246 – the Authority on SEO in Auckland and NZ. We specialise in local SEO Auckland to help you achieve the best results online and dominate your competition.

Recommended Reads:

7 Basic Digital Marketing Habits Your Business Needs to Adopt

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

CRO for Beginners

Overview of Inbound Marketing

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