In order to develop an understanding of the difference between two concepts, one needs to firstly understand what the two are. I’m almost 100% sure that, if you have ever Googled something in your life – which you probably did, and that’s why you’re reading this post – you have seen how when you search a certain term or word, there are a bunch of results that pop up. Your search results consist of a plethora of ads which are categorised by a blatant green box written ‘Ad’. Like any normal human being, you most likely scroll past and look for the first post that doesn’t scream out for you to buy something or call someone. These green box marked results that I speak of are called Google Ads. Google AdWords is the name of an advertising system used by geniuses who work at different companies, who have sat and drafted a whole bunch of keywords, terms and phrases, which relate to their product that people – minding their own business – will enter into the search bar. This also includes the addition of negative keywords where said ‘genius’, adds words they don’t want their company to be associated with during a search. Negative keywords are not always necessarily words with negative connotations, but are words that don’t match with the company’s offering for example, a restaurant that serves an a la carte menu will not want to appear when someone searches for ‘affordable restaurants’. The word affordable or cheap will be a negative keyword for that restaurant.
There are only a maximum of three to four ads that appear at the top of the page and the rest of the ads usually just appear on the sides, or the bottom of the page. Why should a company care where their ad is placed? Surely for it to appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is enough, right? Wrong. A user is more inclined to click on the results closer to the top of the results page, than those that appear lower down. If your ad is all the way at the bottom of the page, chances are, the user has already found what they are looking for at the top of the page and doesn’t even bother to scroll any further.
Google AdWords is a tool developed by Google for companies to pay for their product or service to appear first on the SERP, and the more money the companies pay, the higher they appear at the top of the SERP. It is not, however, as easy as it seems. The point is, it’s a betting spree, you bet against other companies or people who have entered the same word you have entered as a keyword for Google AdWords. So it’s not a first come first serve kind of setup, you have to put your money where your mouse is.
Unlike the lifestyle of the rich and famous, it’s not only about how much money you have that will determine your position on the SERP. Google also checks out a company’s AdRank which is determined by their ever-changing algorithm that is based on two factors. The first factor is the website’s quality score, which is Google’s rating of the quality of your keywords, landing page and your ad. The second is your maximum CPC bid (aka cost-per-click), which is basically the amount the company pays Google, every time there is a click on their ad. It is important to note that the CPC is determined by how much an advertiser is willing to pay per click, depending on what it is that is being advertised.
As you can see in the picture above, cars.co.za appears at the top of the page because they won the bidding process and paid extra to appear first. But as I mentioned earlier, most of us simply scroll past all these paid for ads and go to the next best thing which brings me to the subsequent concept, SEO.
Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO), is every digital marketers base for pitching you their services. SEO is not simply a term that is thrown around like ‘bipolar’ or ‘depression’, it is a skill that has to be mastered in order for it to work. SEO is the process of getting traffic from search engines to your website by ranking in the organic search results. SEO is not paid for online, but because it is a skill, it is paid for in the real world to people who have become proficient at it.
Let’s dive deeper than an Olympic diver into this SEO concept, to better your understanding. There are basically two types of SEO; On-page and Off-page SEO. Google has these weird things called crawlers that scan your website, picking up the keywords that stand out because they are repeated – strategically – across the website and bolded where necessary. There are also specific ways that a company’s website is coded, for instance the images that appear on a website have to have alt tags, so that Google knows what the images are of. Because all of these elements appear on the website, they all constitute the On-page SEO. On the other hand, Off-page SEO includes the traffic driven to and from a website from other places through links and social media. Hence the name ‘off-page’. Off-page SEO is also when there are links from one website linking to another, for example a link to a video that explains a concept further using visuals.
Now, you’re probably thinking ‘any fool can repeat the words that they want their brand to be associated with all over their website’ and appear first on the SERP. Wrong. If you randomly splash words over and over again on your website, Google will pick that up and penalise you and lower your SEO ranking. If your SEO ranking drops, so does your position on the SERP and you could end up at the very bottom of the SERP or worse, on the second page and you don’t want to be on the second page.
With all that said, the best way to go is SEO. Obviously because it’s free, but also because Google will give you a proverbial gold star for it, by increasing your ranking and placing you at the top of the SERP organically. You probably can’t do it all on your own, but lucky for you, I know a guy…Digital Grind Agency – www.digitalgrindagency.com