To drive traffic to your website or e-commerce business, AdWords and SEO are great options. These two marketing tools have different strengths and experts tend to disagree on which one of them is best suited for which kind of business. The nature of your website and the type of business you conduct, have a great bearing on how effective either of these techniques will be, either in the short-term or in the long run.

SEO vs AdWords definitions

To fully appreciate the SEO vs AdWords debate, you must first understand the difference between the two terms. SEO and AdWords are defined as follows.

AdWords is a service from Google, where website owners pay the search engine to show their websites as adverts on top of the regular search results when someone Googles particular words or phrases. Different search engines have different services to the same effect, but Google AdWords is by far the most popular.

On the other hand, SEO involves the use of a number of techniques to manipulate or influence Google algorithms with the aim of getting your website to be ranked higher in search engine results. Usually, SEO involves the use of keyword phrases in website content, external links from reputable websites and many other techniques.

Lead generation potential

Depending on how well executed your campaign is, both AdWords and SEO have the potential to bring you a decent return on investment. However, AdWords tend to show immediate results, while SEO leads tend to grow slowly but steadily, and they are more sustainable in the long run. Generally, most search engine users tend to focus on organic results and tend to ignore advertised results. So while you may see traffic after you invest in AdWords, your traffic is likely to be much greater if you can achieve organic rankings.

Lead generation speed

If you are looking to speedily increase your lead generation or your number of site visits, you are better off with AdWords. AdWords has the ability to effectively target your preferred demographic, and the results are almost instantaneous. Google collects user information and uses it to target potential leads for their AdWords clients, which is why AdWords is faster. SEO cannot take advantage of demographic information, but it ensures that your website is attractive to search engines and potential customers.

Comparing costs

SEO can be free if you have the knowledge and expertise to deploy it on your own. When you start your business, you can work on your own SEO by developing quality content, performing keyword research and developing a backlink (links to your site from other sites) strategy. However, when the business finally takes off doing your own SEO can be overwhelming and you may need the services of professional SEO experts. SEO techniques are constantly evolving, and paying SEO experts may be an easier option than trying to stay at the top of the SEO game yourself while still running your business.

AdWords is a pay per click service. You pay a certain amount of money each time a search engine user clicks on your advert. This means that your investment is proportional to your return, because the more leads you get, the more you pay. A professional may be able to maximise the number of clicks you get with your budget and should be able to improve your conversion rate by targeting the right phrases and demographics.

The verdict

The short answer is go for AdWords if you want quick leads, but invest in SEO if you want steady and sustainable growth in your business. You can use a combination of the two, as long as you keep seeing a good return on your investment from both fronts.

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