Adwords vs SEO vs Social Media Ads – Which Is Best?

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Creating a digital marketing strategy for your online business can be one of the hardest things to do. There are so many digital marketing channels to choose, from Adwords to email marketing, content marketing to SEO and more. It’s hard to know which is best and where to start.

To help you to narrow this down for your brand we have compiled a simple guide as to how the main digital channels of Adwords, SEO & Social Media Marketing compare and the projects these suit best.

What are Adwords, SEO & Social Media Marketing? : –

Adwords or generic PPC – This is simply Pay Per Click Advertising.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation for organic search traffic.

Social Media Marketing – Content marketing through the use of social media campaign platforms such as Twitter, Facebook etc…

Sadly there is no “one-size fits all” answer for which campaign is best. Every online strategy depends on a number of factors: – the business, the type of customer, the product or service and your goals.

To give you a better understanding of how each of these strategies work, here’s a quick breakdown of what each strategy is used for and the pro’s & con’s. 


Adwords or generic PPC Marketing.

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Pay Per Click marketing lets you create and manage highly targeted advertising campaigns. These are customised to your audience, your context and your time. You can monitor your campaigns performance in real time with in-depth analytics.

Pay per click marketing covers search engine marketing (Google Adwords),  display advertising, video advertising, remarketing and more.

The Benefits:

  • You have complete control over the advert.
  • Instant visibility on search engines for your chosen keywords.
  • PPC ads get prominent position on Google Search Results.
  • You only pay when someone clicks on your advert.
  • You have transparency of performance and data.


  • There is no guarantee clicks will turn into sales.
  • There are so many different options available for setting up a PPC campaign, it is difficult to select which parameters will work best.
  • Getting this wrong can be an expensive mistake.
  • Managing a PPC is labour intensive. It requires time spent in analysis and optimisation.
  • Optimising a PPC campaign is a specialist skill.


SEO– Search Engine Optimisation.

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Search engine optimisation is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

There are so many ways to do this that it would require you to research this in depth, in order to effectively implement this into your website.

The Benefits:

  • The traffic you get is free
  • More people use organic results than paid as part of their decision making process.
  • Those who achieve high positions organically in search engine results are seen to be more trustworthy.
  • Creating natural brand mentions and links is just one of the great benefits of SEO.
  • Can be used for all manner of activity from direct sales to brand awareness.


  • While you can control most aspects of SEO, ultimately your position in the search results pages of search engines is decided by their algorithms.
  • Once you have started down a long term seo strategy it is then difficult to quickly change it if you realise it is the wrong strategy.
  • Algorithms change overnight. Therefore positions can fluctuate, SEO can be unpredictable.
  • Returns are not instant. Requiring both time and potentially money before positive returns are made.


Social Media Marketing

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Social media marketing is used to gain relevant traffic, customers, engagement, brand awareness and more, through social media platforms. This can include both paid social media advertising and organic social media advertising.

The Benefits:

  • The marketplace is huge. In just the first part of 2018, Facebook had 2.23 billion monthly active users.
  • Interact with your customers in real time.
  • Complete control of your brand perception and communication.
  • You can use text, images & videos to engage with people.
  • Social media paid advertising offers many in depth targeting options.


  • The people you are trying to engage with on social media aren’t necessarily looking for your products or services at the time.
  • Building a social presence takes a lot of time. Don’t rely on it.
  • Social media is a open forum for anyone. Months of good work can be undone by a few bad comments/ reviews.
  • Traffic to your website from social media can be a fraction of what you receive from SEO or PPC.
  • Social paid traffic can be expensive without results if targeted wrongly.


SO which digital marketing channel is the right one? 

If you have the time, know-how and budget then we would always advise a multi-channel digital marketing campaign. This enables you to generate immediate returns whilst establishing a strong brand identity over time. However we appreciate most SMEs can only afford the one marketing channel to start.

To help with your decision here a quick summary: 

Choose PPC

  • For immediate returns.
  • To have a flexible strategy.
  • If you want to get information to help shape how you approach marketing in future.
  • If you want to test different products or services.

Choose SEO

  • For long term success.
  • To generate free traffic to your website.
  • If you know you can get good rankings and traffic because you are in a niche industry.

Choose Social

  • If your product or service is something people will share online.
  • To connect regularly with your customers.
  • You have not got an immediate need for ROI.
  • To build brand awareness.


If you are struggling to choose a digital strategy and need help then speak to our team. Or for more information see our Digital Marketing Services.

By |2018-08-08T13:51:13+00:00October 29th, 2018|Digital Marketing, Website Design|