Google AdWords vs SEO

Pay to play vs investing in your website.

Two of the most effective tools available to your business are SEO (search engine optimization) and Google AdWords. Empirical360 wants you to know exactly what these tools are and understand the benefits and potential drawbacks of utilizing them.

What is SEO?

SEO is the practice of strategically optimizing your website to rank organically on Google or Bing search engines.  This means that you will appear at the top of the Google or Bing search results page, just below the ads, when people search for topics or services related to your company.

How does it work?

SEO works by making your site legible for both Google and people. In order for it to be of any value, you need an experienced web developer who can write proper HTML and organize your website, and optimize for certain keywords and place them in the appropriate tags.  These tags include the title tag, all of the header tags, the Meta description, alt text tags, and the URLs.

SEO also requires consistent content creation so that your website is up to date and Google identifies it as a “live site”. The last piece of the SEO puzzle is that you need traffic for it to be successful.  People have to be actively engaging and interacting with your site and its content for Google to recognize you as a reliable resource. This is the catch-22, because SEO is technically “free”, but because it requires traffic, you will have to spend money generating that traffic until your site climbs the ladder and ranks organically.

Pros and Cons of SEO:


  • Once you rank organically, SEO provides free traffic.
  • You will be considered an industry leader if you are included in the first 3 search listings.


  • You will need to hire both an experienced search engine optimizer and an experienced web developer to work on your website.
  • Content creation can be expensive if you outsource it entirely.
  • Initially, you will need to pay for traffic from different platforms.
  • You must continually optimize your site, blogs, and images to maintain a high-ranking site.
  • It may take years to rank on Google using only SEO.

What is Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is an auction system where you and other competitors bid on different keyword phrases. Those companies who bid more will be higher up on the page, because ads will show based on the bids.

How does it work?

AdWords works when you bid on keywords or phrases that relate to your business.  It is similar to SEO in that your website will appear when a customer is searching a specific phrase or keyword related to your business. The main difference between SEO and AdWords is the pay-per-click method; only when your ad is clicked on do you actually pay.  The AdWords system allows you to drive immediate traffic to your website without working for years to rank organically.

Pros and Cons of PPC (pay-per-click advertising):


  • The website will get immediate traffic and sales, leads, etc.
  • You will instantly discover if you are in a profitable market.
  • You receive specifically targeted traffic.
  • Keywords that get monetary results will distinguish themselves from less effective ones.


  • You have to pay an experienced AdWords consultant.
  • You also have to pay Google to bid on keywords.
  • You will need an organized website to direct traffic to.

To sum it up, both AdWords and SEO are important to your online presence. You will gain insights from AdWords that can help your SEO, and your SEO will bring down your overall cost per acquisition because the traffic is “free”.  If you are looking for faster results, then AdWords is the most appropriate first choice; SEO is more of a long-term investment. There is no doubt that these tools are necessary in order to give your business the exposure it deserves.

Elliot Alicea – Author

Co-Founder of Empirical360

Elliot is a Co-Founder of Empirical 360 and is extremely passionate about creating highly effective marketing campaigns. He places ROI above all else!

Shea Duncan – Contributor

Lead Content Producer

Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!