Difference Between SEO and Advertising

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People usually find it hard to differentiate between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and advertising. You should note that traffic generated from advertisements is usually paid for while that generated from SEO is free and organic. There are differences between SEO and advertising when it comes to cost, rate of conversion, search results position, traffic potential, and use.

Position in Search Results

The position of an advertisement depends on various factors such as the number of keywords in your ad and landing page, target keywords and much more. Generally, advertisements usually appear either at the top or below SEO results.

SEO results only appear in the middle of a page below advertisements. The listing will appear on the first page or top positions depending on how you optimize your website. Note that your advertisement can get to the first page if you pay more. Your SEO listing will appear on the first page if you optimize your page well.


SEO traffic is usually free, while advertisements are paid for depending on the number of clicks. It is essential to understand that you need to put in more effort to get free traffic. There is a lot of competition for all the keywords, and you also need to have a good website plan for you to get the top positions. There are no shortcuts, and you should, therefore, be familiar with how SEO works for you to get impressive results.

Advertisements, on the other hand, depend on the number of related websites and keyword popularity. You pay for the number of clicks your advert gets. You can estimate the cost of each click on the keyword. The good thing is that you will only pay for clicks and not the views that your ad receives. The process may seem complicated, but it’s simple.

Traffic Potential

SEO can have great traffic potential than advertisement if you can rank your website well. You can manage to get more traffic if you use your keywords properly.

According to statistics, most people visit the top 5 websites. You can, therefore, continue receiving continuous traffic without paying for the keywords. Traffic depends on the popularity of your keyword. Organic traffic is better than advertisement traffic if you compare the results position and cost. Some people claim that ads get more clicks than, but that means that you will pay more.

Remember that it’s hard first page positions and paying for it may be your only option. You won’t get any traffic if you are ranked in the second or third page. The main advantage of SEO traffic is that it’s continuous if you appear in the top positions.

Rate of Conversion

A visitor is likely to convert in adverts as compared to SEO if your ad is highly optimized and targeted. This is because a web page might rank for different keywords, and the visitor might not be searching for the exact product or content on a particular page. On the contrary, you can only get visits to your advertisements if the visitor is fully interested in your product or content. Bottom line, SEO is excellent in terms of traffic but not as efficient as ads when it comes to conversion.

Ease of Use

Both SEO and ads are not easy to use if you are not familiar with them. It takes a lot of time for you to rank for particular keywords. Sometimes you may take years to rank or not rank at all. You can get good results from advertisements if you hire an expert or take a short course. You might spend some money, but you will understand how it works.


It’s a good idea if you use both approaches as part of your marketing campaign. Since Advertisements can bring instant results, you can test the keywords that have a high conversion rate and then use SEO to rank them. It’s advisable that you use SEO if you are operating on a tight budget and use ads if you have a high converting product. SEO takes a lot of time, months and even years to bring good results. However, SEO traffic flows continuously, unlike ads where traffic stops when you stop paying. Also, note that ads require close monitoring and constant updates. You may lose money if you don’t do ads correctly.

Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson has been an SEO since 2008. He has personally helped over 1000 clients with online visibility and brand strategy for SEO growth.

Visual rankings has been helping small business owners online since 2002.

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