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Getting Ranked on Google: Organic SEO Vs AdWords

May 1, 2011 Stephanie Fisher


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A lot of organizations are concerned with being on the front page in Google. Traffic from search engines can be a significant source of leads to your website.

However, a lot of misinformation and confusion exists around the practice of search engine optimization. At SpinWeb, we often talk with clients who have a goal of being ranked very well in Google but are not familiar with exactly what it takes to get there.

Many organizations come to us asking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). They often have preconceived ideas about what that means. Sometimes they think that scattering a few keywords across their websites will do the job. Other times they understand (correctly) that SEO can be expensive time-consuming process involving external factors as well as on-site factors.

However when we dig deeper and get to the root of the question, what most organizations really want is simply qualified website traffic.

There are two ways to bring traffic to your website from Google. One method is to optimize your website for organic search. The other is to use AdWords.

Organic SEO refers to the listings in the main area of Google's search results. These listings show up in the center of your screen and are displayed based on Google's natural algorithm. These listings cannot be paid for but can be targeted through content and external factors.

AdWords is Google's advertising program. AdWords listings show up at the top and on the side of Google search results and will typically appear in yellow at the top and in small boxes on the right-hand side. These are listings that can be paid for directly through Google's advertising program. The nice thing about Google's AdWords program is that you only pay for direct leads to your website. The only time money is deducted from your account is when someone actually clicks on the ad and visits your website.

So which method is better for your organization?

It depends on a number of factors. One factor to consider is the actual product or service that you sell. Organic SEO is typically an expensive and time-consuming process. Though it can lead to a significant payoff and excellent ROI, organic SEO will typically require a monthly investment of at least $2,000 if paid to an SEO company. If organic SEO is done in-house, it often requires many hours of careful planning, analysis, and labor.

Either way it's a significant investment. If the product or service sold has a high-dollar individual sale price, organic SEO might be worth it. For example if you sell jewelry, legal services, laser eye surgery, or vacuum dehydrators, then you don't need very many additional web leads to see a positive ROI from your campaign. However, if you sell five dollar widgets, then the volume needed to see a positive return may not be worth it when compared to the efforts invested in organic SEO.

Additionally, organic SEO takes time to bear fruit. It's not uncommon for an organic campaign to start delivering results only after six months (or more) of hard work. An organic campaign is a marathon, not a sprint.

The AdWords program, on the other hand, has some distinct advantages of its own. An AdWords campaign can be up and running in 24 hours. Additionally it can be started with a much lower budget. For this reason, AdWord can be an excellent program for smaller organizations or companies with a lower-ticket sale. AdWords is also a very nimble program. It allows advertisers to quickly tweak, experiment with, and optimize campaigns on-the-fly.

This can also make it a valuable program for short-term campaigns or for companies with a lower advertising budget.

So what next?

If your company has an advertising budget of at least $2,000 a month, sells a product or service with a high price tag, and is comfortable with a delayed long-term investment, then organic SEO might be an excellent fit.

If your company is on the smaller side, has a more limited starting budget, and would like to see results very quickly, Google's AdWords program can work very well.

Either way it's important to make sure that someone is managing your search engine marketing program very carefully. If your company has someone in-house with the time and the expertise, that person can often be a great fit for managing your organic SEO campaigns or your AdWords campaigns. If not, it can make a lot of sense to outsource this task to a digital agency (like SpinWeb).

Proper management and monitoring of your search engine marketing campaigns ensures that money is not wasted and that your campaigns are producing optimal results.

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Stephanie Fisher

Stephanie Fisher

Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.

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