SEO Vs Adwords?

Adam Steele
Jun 29, 2021

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SEO and AdWords are the two primary components of search engine marketing (SEM). As an online business or website owner, SEO and Adwords are probably the two most valuable strategies when running a digital marketing campaign.

While the goal of SEO and Adwords is the same – to attract more traffic to your website – the way in which the two methods achieve this goal differs.

In this article, we’ll look at what SEO is, what Adwords are, how they are similar, how they are different, and which option is the best for your type of business.

SEO Vs Adwords

SEO and Adwords are both ways of getting your website shown to people looking for your service.

Adwords are paid advertisements that appear at the top of the SERP. SEO results appear organically, according to the perceived value and authority of a website for any given search term

SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the process of creating a website that performs well in the organic search results of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other major search engine results pages (SERPs).

On the other hand, adwords, also known as Google Ads or Google Adwords, is a digital advertising platform owned and operated by Google.

Digital marketers use Adwords and PPC terms to put a digital advertisement on any of Google’s products, including Google’s SERPs, YouTube, Gmail, and the myriad of other websites that act as publishers in the Adwords platform.

Let’s take a look at SEO and Adwords separately and in more detail to better understand each marketing strategy.

What is SEO?

SEO, short for search engine optimization, is the process of creating a website that performs well in the organic results of search engines – ideally ranking on the first page of Google search.

Using SEO to rank high on the SERPs for your keywords means you’ll get the most amount of traffic from people looking for your product or service

Organic search results are unpaid listings in the SERPs of major search engines. The stronger the SEO of a website, the higher it will rank in the SERPs, and the more traffic that website will receive from its target audience for its target keywords.

Making a solid SEO site includes three main components:

  • On-site SEO (or onpage SEO)
    • Keyword research and competitor analysis
    • Creating, publishing and updating high-quality content
    • Internal linking
    • Web design and user experience
  • Offpage SEO
    • Link building and growing the DR of your website (building backlinks)
  • Technical SEO
    • Hosting your website on a safe, secure, reliable server
    • Page load speed
    • Ensuring meta titles, tags, meta descriptions are all SEO friendly

Investing in organic SEO is a very beneficial marketing strategy in that for a relatively small investment, website and business owners can enjoy exponentially higher levels of organic traffic for a prolonged period of time.

With a well-designed SEO strategy that includes high-quality content creation and link building, a website can grow its organic SEO rankings in SERPs and enjoy those higher ranks fr months, even years – depending on the SEO growth of competing websites.

SEO campaigns are a worthwhile strategy for smaller, local businesses who need to establish an online presence but don’t have an incredible amount of competition.

However, if your business is in a more competitive niche, you might need Adwords to claim a more significant portion of your target market.

What are Adwords?

Adwords is a digital marketing platform owned by Google. It is essentially several thousands of online billboards where you pay to have your website listed, so people using your keywords can see your website.

Google signals to searchers whether a listing is paid or not, with the Ad tag added next to the listing’s website address 

When you use Adwords, you pay for Google to show your website. You can choose different Adword strategies, which include:

  • PPC ads (pay-per-click). This is when you pay a pre-determined amount each time a searcher clicks on your advertisement. Often, clicks can cost up to $1 per click.
  • CPM (cost per thousands of impressions). This is when you pay X amount for every 1000 people who simply see your ad – regardless of whether they click on it or not.

Adwords can be a very effective tool in attracting highly targeted web traffic – however, it must be used with caution, as the CPC (cost per click) costs of a PPC campaign can get very high, very quickly.

Suppose an Adwords ads campaign is to be part of your digital marketing strategy. In that case, you must ensure that you optimize your website and landing pages for conversions and user experience.

This is because an Adwords marketing campaign will drive more traffic to your website, but if your website isn’t user-friendly or what that traffic wants, they will immediately bounce off your website. This reduces your overall session time and increases your bounce rate, both of which will greatly damage your organic rankings.

Adwords are also very useful for driving short-term traffic to your website, perhaps when you have a marketing promotion going on, and you’re trying to maximize your website’s online visibility.

Adwords are ideal for businesses with a significant marketing budget. They have a website and product or service they know will be profitable should they attract their target audience.

SEO Vs Adwords: What Are The Differences?

SEO and Adwords are different in how they work. SEO is a 100% focus on the website as a whole, whereas Adwords is simply paying to have an ad for that website listed.

An SEO-optimized website demonstrates to search engines that its content is valuable and authoritative, thus investing in a comprehensive SEO campaign is worthwhile for any business, both small and large.

The similarities between SEO and Adwords lie in their objective: attracting more traffic to a website.

To achieve this, SEO and Adwords need to target specific keywords that the desired audience is using. One effective way to do this is with PPC keyword finders, amongst other useful PPC tools. 

SEO vs Adwords FAQ

Is SEO the same as paid search?

No, SEO is not the same as paid search.

SEO aims to attract free organic traffic by creating a website that is SEO friendly. Paid search uses paid advertising campaigns, such as Adwords and PPC advertising to attract web traffic to a website.

While setting up an SEO-friendly website can be a significant financial investment, the amount of free organic traffic that it will attract will repay the investment exponentially over time.

Can AdWords help SEO?

Yes, Adwords can most certainly help SEO. With a fully optimized SEO website that offers valuable content and an engaging user experience, website owners can drive higher amounts of traffic to their website using Adwords.

When done correctly, leveraging both SEO and Adwords has the greatest positive effect on a website’s performance. This is because the short-term growth of targeted traffic to a website can boost important SEO ranking metrics that search engine algorithms use – in particular, grow session duration, reduce bounce rate, and increase click-through-rate (CTR).

Do Google ads affect SEO?

Yes, Google ads can directly impact the SEO performance of a website – both positively and negatively.

Google ads will achieve one thing: to drive higher volumes of short-term traffic to your website.

Suppose your website and content marketing strategy is optimized. In that case, this will boost your SEO performance by improving SEO ranking metrics such as traffic volume, session duration, dwell time and click-through rate.

However, if your website isn’t optimized, the increased amount of traffic will leave your website rapidly, which will have the opposite effect on the aforementioned SEO ranking metrics.


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of SEO vs Adwords.

SEO leverages organic search, whereas Adwords focuses on attracting website traffic through paid advertising. Combing an effective SEO strategy with a PPC marketing campaign is one of the most effective strategies for rapidly growing web traffic and boosting online-business profitability.

Take a look at what we’ve done for other businesses by leveraging PPC advertising and SEO here.

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

Explore Services

Written by Adam Steele on June 29, 2021

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.