What’s the difference between SEO and Google Adwords?

Want to use Google and other search engines to get your business found online, but not sure what ‘organic’ and ‘paid’ search results mean?

With up to 90% of first-time visitors to websites coming directly from search engines, it’s important to understand these two ways to get traffic to your site. Below is a beginners guide to benefits of – and differences between – search engine optimization and Google Ads. It will help you understand how each can help your business succeed online.

Google Adwords PPC

Google Adwords PPC

Lets imagine you want to buy a used car. The search results highlighted in red above are what marketers call ‘organic’ listings, based on typing ‘buy used car’ into Google.

‘Organic’ search rankings are achieved by ‘convincing’ Google that your website is more relevant than others for a search term (in this case ‘buy used car’).

Two things to know:

  • You can’t pay Google to be at the top of this list
  • You need to ‘optimize’ your website using SEO tactics to rank highly

What is search engine optimization (SEO)?

Google decides how ‘relevant’ your website pages are based on its own ‘secret formula’. There are many things that go into this algorithm, however, some of the ways you can increase your Google rankings include:

  • including keyword terms that you want to rank highly for in your webpages a number of times. For e.g. ‘buy used car’, ‘find used car’, ‘buy used car in Sydney’ etc.
  • have lots of ‘links’ pointing to pages on your website, especially from industry bodies e.g. a if you were a used car dealer you could approach the Australian Used Motor Vehicle Association and ask them to list your website on their supplier/partner pages.
  • increasing your ‘social mentions’. With the rise of Facebook and other social networking sites, Google is placing more emphasis on your business’ social presence. The more ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘tweets’ etc that mention your business, the better.
  • keeping the content on your site fresh – include press releases, blogs, video, podcasts and other rich media.

Directly below and to the right of your search page is where Google displays its ‘sponsored’ listings. This is just a fancy way of saying that for the right price, your website can be promoted high on search result pages straight away.

Again, there are many things that influence how Google works out where to display your ad. However, in simple terms it’s based on:

  • how much you’re willing to bid for keywords (also known as CPC or ‘cost per click’). i.e. ‘buy used car’ , ‘cheap used cars’, etc
  • the quality and relevance of the page your ad links to. If people were to click on an ad above that took them to a page selling new cars, this would lower the ‘relevance’ of your ad, and be shown lower than your ad talking about used cars.

Which one should I choose – ‘organic’ or ‘paid’?

The best online marketing strategies use both.

Google Oraganic Search

Google Organic Search

If you’re just starting out, it may be worth beginning with paid search as it’s ‘easier’ to rank high quickly. But as time goes on, you can tweak you SEO to improve your organic listing – which may be the difference between you securing business over your competitors.

You don’t need to be a web guru to understand how to market your business online – anyone can do it with some patience and planning.