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If I want to increase web traffic, do I need Google AdWords, SEO or both?

What's the best way to get people to visit a website? Run an AdWords campaign? Pump keywords into the website content? Read on for the answers.

SEO graph

Are you hearing 'How can we get more traffic to our website? Should we use Google AdWords or improve our search engine optimisation?’ and finding it hard to know what to say?

An SEO campaign and a Google AdWords campaign are two different tools that help a company achieve different objectives. After reading this article you'll know how to decide for yourself, or advise a client, on whether to choose Google AdWords, SEO, or both.

What’s SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which encompasses any effort that goes into boosting a website in organic search engine listings. By organic listings, we mean any listings below the top three AdWords placements (as shown below).

google advertising example

There are a lot of factors that Google algorithms look at to determine where in the rankings your website shows up; whether you are on the top of the first page or down on page five. Some of the other factors Google looks at include:

  • Whether your web pages are relevant to a user’s search queries

  • How well your website has been built and whether it’s been built with SEO practices in mind

  • How “popular” your website is, ie: if a lot of other websites link to yours.

How do I get on the first page of Google search?

To work out how much SEO expertise is needed to get your website to the top of search engine rankings, you need to look at how much competition there is for your selected keywords.

For example, if you’re selling something really niche like handcrafted rimu key holders, you will probably need to spend about one hour per month to get on page one, but if you’re a plumber from Auckland, you’ll have stiff competition and need to spend at least four hours a month. The best way to find out what competition you’re up against is to get an expert to carry out keyword research.

What’s Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is an advertising platform that can get your website listed at the top of search queries with ads that look very similar to organic search results, as well as banner style ads, product listings and more. Here are a few examples:

google page example

Adwords gives you the ability to define who sees your advert based on their location, age, gender and language. You can also set what day and time people will see your ad, among others options. This is an effective way of making sure every dollar you spend on advertising is well spent.

How does it work?

Google AdWords operates on a bidding platform. This means you can set the maximum price you are willing to pay for one person to click your ad. Then, if your competitors aren’t bidding as much, you’ll end up paying less.

Which one’s for me?

There are a few factors to consider before launching an SEO or Google AdWords campaign.

Consider the following points:

  1. Google AdWords can get you to the top of search listings straight away, SEO can take months, even years, to get your listing on the first page. But once you’re there, it’s worth every cent!

  2. With Google AdWords, you’re guaranteed to get your listing at the top of search queries. If the competition is too fierce for your top keywords, you might not ever get to the top of organic listings through SEO.

  3. Apart from the time, effort and paid expertise you spend with SEO, once you’re ranking highly with Google, every click is free, whereas every click via Google AdWords costs.

  4. You can turn Google AdWords on and off, which is great for seasonal companies needing to promote their website at certain times of the year.

  5. You don’t have much control over what search queries your website will list with organic listings, whereas with Google AdWords you can specify if you don’t want your website showing for certain searches.

  6. For some industries, the cost per click is too high to justify, so they are better to focus their efforts on SEO.

Should I do both?

For a lot of companies the best strategy is to do a combination of both SEO and AdWords. If you know you can turn a good percentage of website traffic into customers, then the more traffic the better. If you are not converting people on your website, you might need to take a step back and look at how you can improve your website’s design.

Still not sure what’s right for you?

We can help. If you or your client need to get more website traffic (and ultimately more sales!) talk to our qualified Google AdWords expert and SEO guru.

Kristy Hoare looks after keyword research, SEO set up and monitoring, and Google AdWords set up and maintenance. She’ll assess your goals and find the perfect online marketing mix for you. Get in touch today.

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