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September 22, 2021

SEO vs Paid Ads – Which Strategy Is Best?

When making decisions on how to invest time and money in digital marketing, there are a few important options to consider, including SEO vs Paid Ads and which strategy is best for your business needs.


In this article, we'll take a look at the difference between SEO and Paid Ads. We've also provided some pros and cons of these two strategies, to help you decide what is best for your business - SEO optimization, Paid Ads or both.

What's The Difference Between SEO vs Paid Ads?

SEO - Search Engine Optimization - is the practice of using keywords and relevant content to get your site ranking higher in the search results, and increase your online visibility.

It involves tactics to make sure your URL's, meta descriptions, tags, landing pages, content, etc. is highly relevant to your target audience, to gain trust and online ranking.

Paid Ads is just what it sounds like: an advertiser pays to purchase an immediate ranking on the search page, bringing quick results to your business site. Paid ads also provides you the opportunity to be noticed by a wider audience.

You may find that Paid Search Ad is often used interchangeably with PPC (Pay-Per-Click). This is because PPC is the most common form of Paid Ads, where the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on their ad.

Back to the question of SEO vs Paid Ads - Which strategy is best? Well, as you can see, there are key benefits to both of these strategies. 

Trying to decide which is better is like comparing a fork and a spoon: both of them have equal value depending on your needs. Both have something the other doesn't have, and both are very useful tools to get your goals accomplished.

To help you decide which strategy is best for your specific business needs, let's explore the pros & cons we've listed below.

The Pros & Cons Of SEO 

SEO vs paid ads - which strategy is best


  • Less expensive in the long run 
  • Builds trust and creditability
  • Earns consistent traffic on your site
  • Long-term results


  • Takes longer to produce results
  • Requires regular optimization 
  • Requires skills and expertise
  • Less control over performance.


Quality SEO requires expertise to get the best results, so you need to spend time learning the necessary skills, or invest money in a top SEO company to do it for you. It can be expensive at first, but the payoff is considerable.

But once your site is top-ranking, you don't have to pay extra to make your target audience see it. Unlike PPC campaigns where you pay per click, SEO will not cost you a cent when customers click your link.

Investing in SEO is near the top in producing long term results at good cost. An optimized website will bring you ongoing results for years to come, unlike Paid Ads that stop appearing in the search results, if your budget dries up.

The Pros & Cons of Paid Ads


  • Offers quick results 
  • Provides more control over performance
  • Pinpoints your target audience
  • Appears at the top of the search results


  • More expensive in the long run
  • Grows stale over time
  • Lower profit margins long term


Paid ads can be expensive, but they have the advantage of appearing at the top of the search results, above the organic rankings, so they will always have the advantage of being the first thing a user sees.

Unlike SEO, which can take months to see results, Paid Ads will get you near- instant results. It is a great, short-term solution for promoting your products or services, if you don't have the domain authority to get your site in the top ranks organically.

Paid ads typically require a bigger budget than SEO. That being said, paid ads are incredibly effective in bringing in short-term wins.

Plus, you can tweak your ads, pinpointing your target audience, to stay ahead of your competitors. This is great for small businesses because it helps to grab the attention of consumers in key moments that matter.

SEO vs paid ads - which strategy is best

SEO vs Paid Ads - Which Strategy Is Best For Your Business?

Both SEO and Paid Ads are great marketing strategies you can employ. Both have valuable benefits, depending on your business goals. Ideally, you should use both to get you the best results of your site. 

Ultimately, the final decision is up to you and your business situation, whether you'll go with SEO or Paid Ads (or both).

So take your time and evaluate the pros and cons of each to discover which is the right one for you. And if possible, integrate the two strategies together - it will bring you immediate short-term traffic to your site, while at the same time optimizing your online presence, for long-term, outstanding success.

About the author 

Brenda Schlabach

Brenda is an artist and photographer from a small town in southern Kentucky. She enjoys working as a designer and content specialist for Troyer Websites Of Texas, a full-service digital marketing company.

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