Adwords vs SEO – there is a difference!

We’ve been getting a lot of enquiries lately about Google Adwords, and how it can help get a website to rank at #1 on Google…so I think it’s time to explain the difference between Adwords and your website ranking on Google!

I completely understand that there are so many buzzwords out there, on top of heaps of offers including all these weird acronyms and fancy names. And then there’s all the spam emails and phone calls where a person speaking to you from overseas says they can get your website to the top of Google (we even regularly get them, a pretty funny phone call to receive but still frustrating all the same).

But what this article is about is the difference between Adwords and search engine optimisation (SEO).

The short of it is:

  • Adwords is paid advertising.
  • SEO is about having your website set up with detailed headings and descriptions, along with regularly publishing informative content.


Adwords can put you right at the top of search listings, but you will only remain there for as long as you continue to pay for the ads. The ads don’t always appear in every search, depending on how much your daily Adwords budget is set at (eg. if it’s $20, when it reaches that limit the ad will stop appearing until the next day).

Adwords also requires you to “bid” on how much you want to spend per visitor to your website (PPC = Pay Per Click), or per view in search results (CPM/PPI = Pay Per Impression). So if you’re trying to rank for a very popular phrase and other businesses have put in higher bids than you, your listing will not be at the top…or if you want it to be at the top in a popular search, you could be paying anywhere upwards of $3–$5 per visitor to your website.

Adwords can be a great short-term solution in some instances, but we find works best if you have a special promotion happening, rather than just linking straight to your website. It can become very expensive if used long-term.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEO is about working on your website so Google sees it as an informative resource, and ranks it accordingly without needing to pay for advertising. If you ask a website company to manage and write content on your behalf, there can be costs involved, but it is something that can be managed in-house too.

SEO does require a website to be built as lean as possible, where Google can find the text on the page easily and be able to see titles, headings and paragraphs quickly. It’s also worth remembering that Google can’t see images, and can’t read text in images either – so it’s the information you type into your website that’s most important.

Writing a blog about topics relevant to your industry and business is one way of generating content – each new blog entry is seen as a new page on your website, and as long as it’s well-written, it will usually be picked up by Google in a matter of days (sometimes hours). Each additional page created, as long as it’s relevant to what the entire website is about, can help your search rankings.

Search rankings based on your content, rather than Adwords, also hold their place for a lot longer, providing that you continue to update your website regularly. Sometimes it will take a few months to make a difference, and your website may not go to #1 straight away, but if you work at it and keep putting great information out there, the results can be fantastic.