Understanding the Difference between SEO and AdWords

Online marketing is an essential process for businesses and individuals with commercial websites. One of the most important aspects to consider when promoting your site to potential clients on the internet is Search Engine Marketing. As implied, this form of marketing involves increasing the visibility of your website in the search engine results.

The objective of SEM is to ensure that your website is ranked highly when users search for specific keywords. If you are new to online marketing, there are two fundamental tools that you must know: SEO and AdWords. For better understanding, consider this discussion on the difference between keywords for SEO and Google AdWords.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is a marketing method designed to make the content on your website relevant to the search engines. Good SEO planning and execution will help you rank higher in the natural or organic list of results. The optimisation practice involves incorporation of specific keywords, links, and content and technical elements which are relevant to users. SEO works on both Google and other search engines.

What is AdWords?

AdWords is an advertising platform designed by Google to help you advertise the relevance of your website on the search engine results. When a website has subscribed to AdWords, their advertisements will appear above, below or beside the organic or natural search results. You can also choose to have ads on other Google-owned websites. When a user searches for one of your keywords, your website will be displayed as an ad on the results page and may also appear organically.

Comparing SEO vs. AdWords

Both marketing methods have advantages and shortcomings. Here are the primary factors contributing to the difference between SEO and Google AdWords.

Time Factor

SEO requires the development of good content for your website, so more time is required to develop. Simply speaking, you will start to see the results gradually. On the other hand, AdWords provide instantaneous results after you subscribe to it.


AdWords is a paid service; you will be charged per-click for users who visit your website. Organic results generated through SEO do not present charges, although there is usually a cost associated with setting up the SEO on a website.


When relying on SEO, you will need to keep producing relevant content for your website to retain a high rank and expand your digital footprint. On the other hand, you need a healthy budget to keep using AdWords.

There are a lot of different elements that determine the right fit for a business on whether to use SEO or AdWords or both.  As a general rule having the foundation of your website, your SEO, set up properly is fundamental to the success of many online marketing activities.  With social leaning more towards search as we move forward you can see how important having the foundation set up correctly is.  You wouldn’t build a house on a shaky foundation and the same should apply to your “virtual business place in the sky”, your website.

If you are unsure on the most cost effective strategy for your business that will bring you the best return please feel free to contact us here.  Alternatively you can download an eBook here on B2B Online Marketing Activities that actually work.

Kaylene Grieve

Kaylene Grieve is the Managing Director of Sales, SEO and Social Media, (SSSM) a marketing services agency based in Sydney Australia. With over 25+ years in Sales and 10+ years of marketing experience SSSM has helped numerous companies achieve tremendous results in sales and marketing. Knowing the right volumes and using a blend of inbound and outbound strategies always delivers sales and marketing qualified leads to a business with consistency.


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