a digital innovation studio

Google Adwords VS. Organic SEO – Part 1

Part of what makes a human life so rich, interesting, and full of value is having to make choices. You arrive at these ‘metaphorical’ forks in road, one path meandering off in one direction, the other trail disappearing in the opposite. There’s no way to tell where either leads (that would take the fun out of it anyway) but still you’ve got to choose one and not the other . . . for better or worse.

What sort of career will bring me the most happiness? What am I most passionate about? Should I get married? Have children? Where do I want to live? In my opinion, these are the ‘Big’ choices in life . . . the types that should be weighed very carefully. Despite the significance they often carry, one of the saving graces about making decisions at all is that you can always go back and try some other path in case the initial one doesn’t quite work out . . . except having kids obviously. That one’s permanent.

In business, nothing’s ever set in stone though. It’s normal and expected that you’re going to try out various tactics to see which one(s) will potentially bring about the best ROI. Take the ongoing debate over which route is best: Google Adwords or Organic SEO.

Basically, pay per Click advertising is a paid online advertising model, such as Google Adwords. Pay per click results typically appear as “sponsored links” above or beside the normal (aka Organic) Search Engine results. On the other hand, organic search engine results are the natural, unpaid search engine results that are determined by the Search Engines themselves. As with anything, there are pros and cons to using either . . .



  • Immediate results; you can rocket to the top of Google in a very short period of time
  • Cost per click does not charge unless someone actually clicks on your link
  • Since you’ve got the power to set a daily budget you’ll be able to keep track of where you’re money’s going
  • You have control over what advertisement you display, to whom you display them, and when they’re displayed . . . this makes for some solid targeting


  • As quickly as you can rise to the top of the heap you can plummet to the bottom of the barrel (competition can outbid you, you can reach your quota per day, etc…)
  • It’s very easy to blow a ton of money and get nothing for it; for example, try getting the top rank for a competitive search result like ‘web design’ that millions of other people are all fighting over . . . easy way to spend a lot of dough
  • Less than 25% of all search traffic even bothers to click on the sponsored links

Organic SEO


  • You build a loyal and potentially long-lasting base of customersUltimately more cost effective compared to a PPC campaign.
  • According to a recent study: 80% of the time search engine visitors click on organic search engine rankings while 20% click on the PPC results.
  • Once you get near the top of the search engines, you can comfortably scale back your efforts without destroying your rankingsYou won’t spend a ton of money


  • It’s going to take you a LONG time to rise to the top of the crop
  • It’s next to impossible to oust the top rankers for the highly competitive keywords if they’re well entrenched
  • The constantly changing search engine algorithms means the process needs to be appraised regularly because you may have a great ranking one month but drop down a bit the next

Which option you decide to go with has a lot to do with the kind of market you’re looking to ‘crack.’ If you’re hoping to drive large amounts of traffic to your site in as short a period as possible, adwords is probably the best option. In that same vein though, if you’re more interested in making a long term investment and can afford to wait around for things to grow gradually over time, then go with organic. Sounds like a pretty cut-and-dry issue but it’s actually quite a complex choice. But don’t worry too much . . . whichever direction you initially take, you can always go the other way. I’ll dive into more details in the next post.

Read the top ten organic myths


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