SEO or Paid Search: Which is Better?
At Motoza, our bread-and-butter consists of two services: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Search Management (i.e. Adwords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads). Ideally, we would recommend clients to run both campaigns at the same time as SEO and Paid Search have their pros and cons for the short and long term.
However, we also understand that not everyone has an infinite budget, so we’ve put together a quick guide to help determine which campaign to start out with if you can’t do everything at once:
Option #1: Search Engine Optimization
Back in the day of HotBot, AltaVista, and Google’s infancy, SEO was easy to do: Stuff your website and pages with keywords that people would search for to get to your products/services, and your website will show up at the top. However, that didn’t necessarily provide the user with a friendly or relevant experience when searching online, so Google has gradually improved their search algorithm over time, making it more difficult for everyone, including spammers to show up on the front page.
The General Benefits of SEO:
- Longer lasting results
- Cost-effective in the long haul
- Higher click-throughs than paid ads
- Opportunity to show up in the Map section to target locals
- Placement cannot be bought from Google
The General Downfalls of SEO:
- Susceptible to change from Google’s algorithm updates
- Takes a long time to develop
- Limited data on specific keywords people searched for when coming to your site
Option #2: Paid Search Management
In the late 90s, a company called GoTo, now called Overture, launched a “paid placement” service which allowed advertisers to bid on ads for keywords relevant to the advertiser’s products and services. There were other similar type services offered by other search engines, but the idea was that the highest bidder would get the ad at the very top, which also had the highest visibility and increased likelihood of getting clicked on. Like SEO, that has obviously changed to take relevancy and other factors that affect the user experience, with Google Adwords being the dominant paid search platform of choice today.
The General Benefits of Paid Search:
- Results can be obtained very quickly
- Plenty of data available on campaign performance (i.e. best performing ads, keywords, clicks, etc)
- Ads and keywords can easily be switched in and out based on performance
- More flexibility on using different landing pages
- Protected from Google’s SEO algorithm changes
The General Downfalls of Paid Search:
- Clicks on your ads can get very expensive in a competitive industry
- Ads disappear immediately once you pause or stop paying
- Susceptible to click fraud
As you can see from the pros and cons from both lists, running both an SEO and Paid Search campaign helps cover each other weaknesses. For example, since SEO can take months, even years to develop, running Paid Search ads would help by quickly generating leads to cover the expenses.