SEO vs. Paid Ads: Which is the Best Investment?

November 27, 2021

The title of this article is paid ads vs SEO, and that’s purely because that’s the misconception that many organizations have. They believe that only one or the other will be effective in garnering results, and end up completely neglecting the other. No one is saying that you should exhaust yourself trying to do both, but sticking to only one is not the best tactic. Each has the potential to help your organization show up at the top of search engine listings, but for different reasons.

Let’s look at the differences between the two, and what benefits they offer.

At its core, paid ads is a type of paid advertising, while SEO is an organic ranking strategy. Paid ads involves a bigger financial investment, but can get you results faster. SEO costs less, but will take much more time to see results.

Each of these strategies can be implemented at different points in your organization campaign and for different reasons.

First, consider what your competitors are doing, because that’s always a great way to understand what you need to be focusing on, and where you need to be excelling. The cost of keywords is based almost entirely on how many organizations are bidding on them, and how often they’re being searched. If your competitors are running paid ad campaigns, the keywords that you’re both fighting for are likely to be expensive.

Also, you may increase your paid ads budget as you go, increasing your funding as your success grows. This is how paid ads works, because lucrative campaigns allow you to build bigger campaigns with more desirable keywords. It’s best to prepare yourself for this growth when starting up a campaign, and to expect it in the future.

When building a paid ads campaign, you’re in the unique position of being able to choose your own budget, which will be allocated throughout the course of the campaign. When we said that paid ads involves a greater financial commitment, this is what we were talking about. With SEO, you pay an agency a set amount, and receive a certain quality of result. With paid ads, there’s no guarantee about the quality of the result. Rather, certain keywords are guaranteed to be clicked more frequently, and consequently are more expensive. Based on what your budget and daily spending limit is, you can then determine how long of a campaign you’ll be able to run.

The cost of a paid ads campaign may have very much to do with the industry in which you operate, as certain keywords and industries have a higher cost-per-click average. Highly competitive industries, such as automotive, technology, etc., are likely to have higher CPC averages, thus costing your organization more money for a campaign. When the expected cost is higher than the expected profit, SEO may be a better option. It will take longer to garner these results, but they’ll come at a fraction of the price.

Another factor to consider is how much time you’re willing to invest, and not just in terms of how long the campaign will be, but how much time will be spent on it per day. SEO is a long-term game, requiring you to produce relevant content, disseminate it across the web, and to repeat this process repeatedly. There are faster ways to do SEO, but this is the most reliable. If you’re doing SEO with paid ads, or if you have time to spare, or even if you have so much work power that you can condense the time needed to do it, SEO is an extremely powerful strategy to use.

However, if you’re looking for quick results, paid ads is the way to go. Not only can it bring you to the top of search engine listings, accomplishing what SEO is supposed to do, but it can also show you how your work is being received by your target audience, in the form of detailed metrics, statistics, and conversion results. Both Bing and Google offer the tools to examine and understand these metrics, and are extremely helpful in determining what return you’re getting on your investment.

SEO and paid ads can also influence the client base which you accumulate, and the speed at which you do so. If you’re looking to build a long-term client base, SEO is the way to do this. It ensure that consumers are finding your organization organically, knowing full well that your search engine rating has to do with the quality of your content and work, and your ability to perform as an organization. Paid ads is better for quickly getting the word out, such as when you’re orchestrating a flash sale, or looking to quickly gain many customers.

Ideally, your organization should engage in both paid ads and SEO marketing, as both are key ways to build the success of your organization. Most organizations use both and find that the combination allows them to try out new methods at different angles. Before jumping in with a huge investment, it’s best to try both out, to see which works better for your industry and your needs, and which is more manageable.

Rush Ventures

Rush Ventures is a digital performance marketing agency with ten years of success, generating hundreds of millions in revenue for businesses across a variety of industries. The company is recognized as an industry leader in delivering enterprise SEO and SEM solutions consistently outperforming industry benchmarks.


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