The Difference Between Adwords and Organic Search

If you’re familiar with the world of digital marketing and SEO, you’ll likely have come across terms like ‘Adwords’ and ‘Organic Search’. These two concepts have their similarities – they both revolve around targeting keywords and phrases to direct traffic to certain relevant websites – but that’s where the similarities end.

Adwords and organic search are related to search engines. When you search for a term in any search engine, you’ll see two types of results: those which have been paid for, and those which have organically made it to the top of the rankings on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or whichever search engine you’re using.

But which is which? And which approach should you be using to direct traffic towards your own website?

What is Adwords Search Marketing?

google adwords in serp

Adwords is a platform run by Google which allows businesses to pay to have their website listed when users search for certain keywords or phrases. There’s usually a section right at the top of the search engine’s results which is dedicated to Adwords listings – they’re marked by the word ‘Ad’ just in front of the site description.

Using Adwords is also referred to as PPC (pay-per-click), because businesses pay for each click that directs a new user to their website. Adwords Search Marketing is by no means the only way to use Adwords either and Google also offer other services with different benefits.

These services include Adwords Display, Mobile, and Shopping to name but a few. Whatever you’re advertising Google Adwords now has the ability to help!

What is Organic Search Marketing?

search engine optimization and organic search

Organic search is all part of a marketing strategy called SEO: search engine optimisation. This approach allows any business or website to move up the rankings on Google (or any other search engine) without paying a penny to Google, all by leveraging certain techniques and best practices.

There are more than 200 factors* which affect a website’s optimisation – some of the most popular and common include quality content, external links, page load time and keywords. These affect how ‘relevant’ your website is for users searching for certain terms. Organic search means that websites optimise their sites for certain keywords to boost their visibility on Google.

SEO usually takes a lot longer to become effective when compared with paid search. Google also guards its ranking algorithms carefully, meaning that a lot of SEO is based on trial-and-error – albeit very well-informed trial-and-error through years of experience and a very collaborative industry.

Should I use Adwords or organic search?

So which route should your business take? The long-term, organic route which saves businesses money and encourages website best practice? Or the paid route, where results may be instant but the outlay is significantly larger?

The truth is that businesses should be adopting a combination of the two depending on needs and costs associated. The two approaches balance each other out nicely, filling in all the gaps in your search engine marketing efforts. Adwords can be switched on and off, while SEO takes a lot longer to build.

SEO is great for targeting high-traffic keywords – Adwords can be expensive for businesses targeting popular terms.

Adwords is great for targeting new terms or buzzwords in your evolving industry, while SEO can take care of your core keywords.

Both Adwords and organic search have their benefits and their downsides. The best way to maximise the benefits and cancel out the downsides is to take advantage of both methods.

*we know there are more than this and it’s not a case of ticking ranking factor boxes but a natural blend of them all. For the purposes of this post, we’ll stick with the 200.

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    Chris Simmance, Marketing Consultant and International Keynote Speaker

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