Organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Paid Search (AdWords) are two different marketing efforts to produce the same goal: to have your website found in the SERP’s (search engine result pages). Deciding which one is better than the other really depends on the circumstance.
Think of the two as boats. With Organic SEO, you might envision a large aircraft carrier. Takes a while to build up speed, it covers a lot of space and strategy needs to be planned out ahead of time. While PPC (Pay Per Click) can be considered more as a speedboat. Nimble and agile, can shift course on a dime and gets up to speed quickly.
Why PPC is better than SEO
For many years companies have used PPC because if you are willing to pay the cost, you can guarantee placement on the first page of the results and even in the first spot if you are so inclined.
In the case of small businesses it can provide the ability to, for a short time, bring in profitable traffic. Once a schedule, for example, has been filled for production, the business can pause the campaign. This allows for short term bursts of marketing activity for a keyword that in the case of organic SEO, that same small business would be unable to afford to compete with.
With larger businesses it provides the ability to stay in front of the consumer at all times and dominate the first page by showing up in the ads at top and within the organic search results.
Why SEO is better than PPC
Pay Per Click can be an expensive proposition. Over time the long term investment of showing up for certain keywords that could have been achieved organically can prove to be more costly than need be.
Many pages can rank for multiple keyword terms and if optimized properly, lots of qualified traffic can be obtained from SEO. The best part is that Google does not charge you for being in the organic search results.
In the mindset of the consumer, quite often those that click on ads are usually looking for a deal or a discounted offer. In doing so the cost of marketing that page needs to include the discounted product/service and the spend of the paid ads.
Consumers that click on the organic results are more likely doing research and the more research a consumer conducts, the more qualified the customer when they decide to make their purchase.
SEO is a long term process
The bottom line is that PPC is quick and guaranteed. The moment you stop though, your online presence evaporates. SEO is an extended strategy that takes investment, skill and time.
The results however tend to be higher qualified customers with savings overall when compared to paid search.