For any digital marketing campaigns to be successful, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and AdWords are the main building blocks for any Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and are the most crucial tools. Both tools have their own similarities and differences. Depending on what marketing results you want to achieve for your business, you can use them both or separately.

If you’re new to digital marketing, you must have heard people mention words like SEO, PPC, CPC, click through rates, AdWords among others. Of course, you must be wondering what exactly they mean. We’ll clear that for you before giving you reasons as to why SEO has a better return on investment (ROI) that AdWords.

What is AdWords?

AdWords is a platform that is owned by Google and is used for advertising. As a company or business that’s advertising, Google AdWords allows you to market your services or products by placing ads on the different Google product pages like  Gmail or YouTube, Google Search Results and to other Google affiliated websites that take part in publishing ads on behalf of the Google AdWords program known as Google AdSense.

With AdWords, your payment for the service is more flexible. You can either pay when a user clicks on the ad you placed which is known as Cost Per Click (CPC) or when your ad gets seen by people also known as Cost per Thousand (CPM). Cost Per Thousand simply means that the advertiser pays for an ad for it to get one thousand clicks or impressions or views.

What is SEO?

The most used and the most successful form of Search Engine Marketing, is the Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of getting free traffic that ranks better in the search engine results of Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. However, for you to accomplish this, you’ll need to have or own a website that searches engine friendly.

Search engines find it easy to read websites that are search engine friendly. Moreover, users find them easy to navigate for content based on how fast and functional they are topped with the user experience. Major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing give search results to users based on what’s relevant. This is determined by how content – local listings or videos – from different websites are ranked on the search engine.

With SEO, the top organic search website results listings are shown first because the respective search engine recognizes them as the ultimate authority. For organic results, no amount of money from advertisers can cause their sites to be highly placed than others.

Comparison Between AdWords and SEO

Both AdWords and SEO serve the purpose of giving your brand, products or services better visibility. The internet is flooded with basically the same things difference being the websites they are available on. So, how do these two compares:

  • SEO gives you free traffic while traffic generated from AdWords is paid for
  • AdWords is mainly for Google sites and any other websites that have Google AdSense whereas SEO applies to all the different search engines that exist
  • SEO requires a lot of work to enable you to get on the first page of any organic search result while with AdWords, your ads are shown on the bottom and top of the Google search results
  • AdWords gives you immediate results as people can see and click on your ads thus generating traffic to your site. On the other hand, SEO is long-term, and you will need more time to get a good ranking and free traffic to your site
  • Calculating return on investment (ROI) for SEO is a bit more difficult as several factors come into play while with AdWords, it’s quite easy to calculate ROI
  • SEO traffic is long-term once your website’s ranking is high while with AdWords, once you stop your campaigns, you stop getting traffic to your website
  • AdWords allows you to use multiple keywords all together whereas, for SEO, your keyword use is limited in order to get good results
  • SEO results are solely from the search results pages while with AdWords, you are able to advertise on both the Google owned websites and websites that are in the Google AdSense program

Why Does SEO Have a Better ROI Than AdWords?

When your content ranks high in any organic search result, you won’t have to worry so much about marketing. Your digital marketing spending will be dismal. Getting free traffic to your website can help with lead generation thus increasing your sales revenue.

When people make their search on different search engines, they will always get two results; either a paid ad or organic search results. From our observations, people who click on ads will often go back and try to find more information about a service, product or company by searching through the organic search results of the different search engine they are using.

A study released by Google shows that over 60% of users use their mobile phones to search for local products or services that they need with the top 5 organic search results pages getting many visits. In short, even though you are the best at what you do but can’t be found on the top 5 search results, your brand won’t be able to attract new users who are actively on the internet searching for your services.

As mentioned earlier, SEO has better ROI than Google AdWords or any other type of paid advertising. So, what exactly makes SEO stand out and be one of the tools that you can leverage on for your digital marketing needs?

  1. Organic results are much more trusted by people than Ads

The best way to learn the behavior of people online and what they trust is to analyze data on what they click. For example, when searching for services or products, most people will ignore the ads at the top and look for websites offering the desired information. This is what is referred to as ad blindness; users moving past ads without bothering to read them.

However, depending on the industry, some may get high click through rate from the ads as compared to an organic search. This is however rare. From research, organic searches have always had a higher click-through rate compared to ads placed on the different search engine pages. Research shows that 75% of all page clicks come from organic searches. Such data can’t be ignored. With effective SEO, you should be able to have your business on the first five pages of Google, Yahoo, Bing or other used search engines.

Web traffic from organic search results accounts for about 51% while that of AdWords is about 10%. Additionally, business services get 70% of organic traffic while ads get about 3%. For every pound spent on SEO, an organic search result traffic generates a profit of about £2.74 whereas on ads, for every pound spent, your revenue generation is -£0.95

Most users find pop up ads annoying and intrusive. Pop up ads tend to do more harm than good. Moreover, with the availability of pop up and ad blockers, most users will never come across your pages. As such, you are investing money and time in ads that barely get seen. Although AdWords gives you immediate results over a short period, SEO can double or triple the results once done right. With AdWords, you’ll spend more and get less.

  1. Recommendations from family or friends contribute heavily on SEO

Word of mouth has and continues to be one of the key ways that people buy products or services from companies. Before the internet age, it was one of the most reliable ways that people made purchases. Why? Because people trust their family and friends more than they trust ads popping up on their Google or Bing search.

How so? For example, if I’ve used a certain product and liked it and a friend is shopping around for the same, and they seek my opinion, I’ll, of course, praise the product. Why? Because it worked for me. My friend will, therefore, be convinced and will end up buying the same product. Such direct recommendations have a huge impact on direct traffic to the product’s website.

Direct traffic refers to traffic generated from people searching for your services directly via typing your website’s URL or from their bookmarked pages on their browsers. These direct searches have a higher click through rate than that of Google AdWords. People who want to purchase a product recommended by friends will come directly to your website and search for the product.

They might look at a few competitor pages before coming back to your website to make the purchase. Your business showing up on the first page of an organic search proves that it’s genuine and credible. This helps build trust in people, and they are likely to engage, make a purchase and become a repeat customer. Moreover, this helps in client retention.  Ironically, people will in rare occasions click through organic search results that are SEO generated then go back and click on AdWords campaign.

  1. SEO costs less than AdWords

Even before spending a dollar on digital marketing, you need to be able to calculate your projected return on investment. Businesses are all about making money and not losing money. The one question you need to ask yourself is which of the two – SEO or AdWords – will give you a better ROI. If not for anything, knowing which of the two will give you better value for your money should help you decide.

As mentioned earlier, AdWords have a short-term impact compared to SEO which has multiple benefits over a long period. Although investing in SEO isn’t immediate, the little money spent on it will continue to work and triple in profits compared to AdWords where you’ll most likely not make profits. For example, building your SEO can help you get ranked on the first page of Google. Being third on their page gives you on average a 10% click through rate. On the other hand, placing your ad on the first page of Google gets you on average a 2% click through rate.

The above percentages give a clear representation of what works and what doesn’t. Although SEO has a better return on investment, it’s important to note that the results will take time. SEO relies on keywords used. Unlike humans, search engines rely on certain special codes to understand your content. Once you have your content, the engine will locate your website and associate the keywords used with your site. As such, every time someone uses that keyword, your website shows up first.

Optimization of Your Website

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, so does getting results from your search engine optimization. They will not happen overnight. Optimization is a continues business. Just like a car needs to be serviced and maintained, so does your website’s optimization. Moreover, the older the wine, the sweeter the taste. The same wine analogy applies to your SEO efforts. The more you optimize it:

  • the better your ranking on search engine pages
  • the more visibility and direct organic traffic to your site
  • the more lead generation for your business
  • the more profits you get

The general rule for keywords is what services your business offers plus the area. For example, if your business specializes in window cleaning services and is located in Los Angeles, your main keyword needs to be ‘window cleaning services Los Angeles.’

Which of The Two Is Best for My Marketing Needs?

Both are good. For start-ups and small to medium sized business, getting visibility, sales, and leads is very important. Such business can start with Google AdWords as it gives immediate results. While ads help generates traffic to your site, you can work on optimizing your website and making it readable for search engines.

However, for AdWords, you will need better monitoring tools. This can help you analyze campaigns that are performing well and giving better ROI and help leverage on those. Without that, you end up losing lots of money.

In the long run, with a well-optimized site, you won’t need to spend heavily on AdWords. If your SEO works well, you can use AdWords for promotional content, e.g., when you have sales offers to boost your SEO traffic. Additionally, you will need a bulletproof content marketing and social media strategy.

Content marketing will enable you to create content that’s rich, and of high value to your audience, SEO will help with the optimization of your content for the different search engines thus boosting your organic traffic, and social media will help market and promote your optimized content to your targeted audience.


Bottom Line

You can comfortably use SEO and AdWords at the same time as they aren’t competitors. Both tools need to be part of any of your digital marketing strategy.

Still, SEO is more sustainable several years down the line. A well-optimized site might be all you need to start reaching your target market and increasing your revenue.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about Why SEO is Better ROI Than AdWords. For Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services in Bedford, Bedfordshire and the London area, please contact us here