The answer is that both are great marketing options. It might sound like a cop out but it’s true! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Ad Word campaigns both provide excellent marketing opportunities for business owners. However, Search Engine Optimization focuses on more of a long term organic traffic generation approach, while Ad Word campaigns are terrific at creating quick traffic.

Ad Word or Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing can be used in two ways — either by bidding on keywords or running display ads. The most popular method is to bid on relevant keywords that you would like to place highly on in a Google, Yahoo!, or Bing search. Ad Words also let you set a maximum budget, which is convenient for those needing to keep careful track of how their resources are used. By getting the keyword you only pay when a customer clicks through to your website. For example, if you own a bicycle shop and you bid on Beach Cruisers for $7 per click, you would only pay for $7 times the total amount of clicks that goes up to your maximum budget. If 100 people clicked on your PPC ad on the top of the Google Search Engine Results, then you would owe Google $700 for the campaign — but only as long it was under your maximum budget total.

The real power of Ad Words is that the traffic is generated instantly. While impressions and branding are an added bonus effect of PPC, the real purpose is to generate a click-through. Therefore, wording becomes important. You must create a clear message in the customers’ mind of what it is you are offering. For example, let’s compare two fictitious companies:

Fictitious Bicycle Shop A 
Bicycles and Bicycle Supplies
1234 followers Google+ 
Repairs – Sales – Rack Installs

Fictitious Bicycle Shop B
Creating Custom Beach Cruisers for 35 Years
522 Followers Google+

The second shop is holding the search result for the campaign. They are maximizing their PPC sales opportunities and trying to increase their click through rates. Once the web visitor clicks through and looks at the site, the second important step is to have the content designed to assist in converting that visitor into a paying customer (conversion). As long as your conversions make for a positive Return on Investment (ROI), then the campaigns are worthwhile.

SEO on the other hand focuses on a long term approach to raise search engine rankings and traffic delivery. For example, it may take 6 months to a year to get ranked at the top of Beach Cruisers in the example listed above on the search engines. But the traffic generated from that ranking and other numerous keyword rankings is FREE. Meaning in the long run, you save $7 per click, not only for Beach Cruisers but for all the other keywords and phrases that were optimized as well. Optimizing your website is powerful if you can get the keywords you want listed on the first page of the search engines. Skilled On-Page Optimization focuses on creating high quality content that consumers both want and need. High quality content also has the additional benefit of keeping customers on your website and aiding with customer conversions, which can increase ROI.

So, which option should you choose? For an upcoming sale in the next month that you want to promote or for keywords that are difficult to optimize, Ad Word campaigns are probably the better choice. For a long term approach on traffic looking 6 months to year out, SEO would probably be the wiser option. Both have their place and should be utilized to maximize potential traffic.