What Is The Difference Between Organic SEO and Google AdWords?

At Digital Monk, we are asked by almost every new client about the difference between organic SEO and Google AdWords. While AdWords can be an effective way to get results while you build organic SEO, it is rare that we recommend them as a long term strategy. There are a few industries where keywords are ultra competitive, or where things change very frequently like the auto industry, but organic SEO is always a critical part of any effective online strategy. Actually, we would be willing to assert that if you are chatting with a marketing agency and they do not discuss organic SEO – run for the hills!


To answer the question about the difference between organic SEO and Google AdWords, the difference is that AdWords involves paying Google to put your website at the top of search results based on the keywords you are paying to rank for, whereas SEO involves making your site better so Google will rank it high in search results.


Marketing agencies use several tactics that optimize your website so Google will find it when your target customers search for the keywords and terms that are highly popular. AdWords is a short term paid strategy to get traffic to your website. SEO is a long term way to get traffic by offering the best content and experience.


Investing in Google AdWords is like renting an awesome apartment in the heart of downtown. You can rent a prime location right where all the traffic is, but once your lease is over (or you are not paying for it anymore), it is gone. Invest in SEO to help boost your organic rankings and improve your website overall. Use Google AdWords to help boost traffic, get the word out and let your potential clients know that you are an option until your optimization efforts have started to pay off within the Google algorithm.


Simply put, SEO is owning space on the first page of Google. Adwords is like renting space on Google. A good digital marketing strategy is to rent space for a period of time until you can own it on your own, with the goal being to own as quickly as possible. Not only will this save you money, it will also lend more credibility and trust to your website for potential customers.

To lend more context, here is a full definition of each:


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the act of optimizing your website in an effort to achieve the best possible ranking in organic (unpaid) search results. Top organic search listings appear first because they are highly relevant to your search and Google recognizes the website as an authority.  Advertisers cannot pay to place their site higher in organic results, you must earn the rank by improving your website and offering quality content on your site.




Google AdWords (also known as pay-per-click) is a platform run by Google that allows companies to advertise their website in search results when a user searches for a specific keyword. Advertisers “pay per click” on their advertisement.These ads show on the top of the organic search results, as well as on the side of the page.

Here is how each works:



When a user types a search query in the search bar, Google does an inventory of all of the web pages it has on file. It looks for the websites that have the most relevant information and presents those to the user.  If you are not showing up when a user is searching for your service, you will not be a consideration when making a purchase.


Organic search engine traffic can provide an improved ROI over traditional forms of paid media and pay per click options.

 A higher percentage of users click on the organic results. While there are exceptions to this rule, you will generate more clicks from a highly placed organic listing than from a highly placed paid ad.


Advertisers pay per click on their advertisement. You set the rules, which your marketing agency will typically manage for you to ensure you get the best return possible. A daily budget is chosen which, the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a click on your advertisement is set and the keywords you want your ad to show for are entered. You are bidding against your competitors for the same keywords, so it will take a minimum investment to achieve results.Your budget and maximum bid decide where on the page you are displayed and how often you are seen each day.

While both options have a place within your strategy, AdWords should be limited and short term, with the end goal being to rank on the first page of Google results organically by addressing the requirements the Google algorithm looks for and ultimately by being the best option for your customer on each particular keyword or phrase.


We are constantly hearing horror stories from our clients who have spent thousands of dollars on AdWords and now have nothing to show for it. Remember, your strategy should always include organic SEO efforts such as keyword rich content, blogging, web copy that serves the intent of your visitors, optimized metadata & URL’s, site speed, making you mobile friendly, etc. The list of organic SEO tactics is long, everchanging and requires a real expert to put them to work for you. The cost and ROI on SEO is based solely on how many of these tactics your marketing team is mastering for you so be sure you clearly understand what is being worked on and why.


If you’re in need of more information, guidance or you need a solid organic SEO strategy put together for your business, Digital Monk is here to help you. The results we’ve achieved for our many happy clients are sure to impress and we’d love to put our expertise to work for you!

Similar Posts