SEO and Paid Search: Pros, Cons (and Everything in Between)

TO PAY, OR NOT TO PAY. IS THAT THE QUESTION?

ByJess Reilly

You’ve heard that search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search are key to promoting and selling your products. The reality of maximizing your investment in your digital presence is that both efforts go hand in hand. Without SEO, you pay more for digital advertising. Without paid media, it can take years to grow your organic presence to generate the number of leads and/or sales your business needs to scale. 

Is coupling each tactic a more expensive investment? It can be. If managed properly, however, it can also amplify your ability to reach online users who otherwise wouldn’t have found you. That means yes, you have to spend money to make money, but the bottom line is that you will make more money

The Role of Search Engine Optimization

What exactly is “optimization” beyond a vague word describing “make this better?” As defined by our pals over at Search Engine Land, it is the process of getting traffic from the “free” or “organic” search results on search engines. It’s how you can get your site to show up on the Google results page when someone types in something related to your business.

At a high level, in order for your business to excel at SEO, you must nail these core concepts:

  • Your website should be technically healthy, secure, and easy to use. Everything from the code of the site to the structure of your URLs should be carefully considered. Rebel’s technical SEO audit includes 98 different factors that assess each technical aspect of your site to ensure we’re appeasing the algorithms appropriately. 
  • The content of your site should be relevant and valuable to visitors. It should be well-written, include relevant keywords, and represent you as an authority on the topic of the page. 
  • How other websites talk about your website matters. Quality links, shares, and other signals to your site tell Google that the impact of your digital presence matters, and that your website is relevant to web users. 

There are over 200 different ranking factors Google looks for, making SEO as much of an art as it is a science. While fighting Google’s algorithms can feel a lot like driving while blindfolded, excelling at the practice can bring you more consistent and qualified traffic which leads to sustainability and long-term results. Mastering the ability to target users early in the customer journey through informational and question-based search queries can have a direct impact on lead generation efforts and overall ROI.

Why don’t all businesses just embark on fine-tuning their SEO? Well, the uncertainty of how Google’s algorithms work and lack of control over website traffic (factors such as algorithm updates that can affect keyword rankings), can leave the savviest marketers unsure where to start. SEO is also a marathon, meaning there’s a significant time investment to grow your traffic, which can be too time-intensive for companies without resources to hire a full in-house SEO team. Having a qualified agency partner to guide you through the process is critical.

The Role of Paid Search 

Paid search ads have a long history of driving conversions. Google processes trillions of searches each year — and still shows 15% of all searches are for things that have never been searched before — per day.
Leveraging paid search allows you to put your business in front of the right people and — if your strategy is sound –– not in front of the wrong people. Paying for Google search ads can be extraordinarily expensive if you’re wasting your spend on clicks from people who do not become buyers. A paid search strategy can also lend you the ability to reach wider geographic audiences in places where you might not rank on Google search organically. This allows you to scale the success you see from your SEO efforts, with the added benefit of driving relevant traffic immediately instead of waiting months for SEO efforts to kick in.


Why don’t all businesses just launch paid search campaigns? It’s not that simple. The Google ad platform allows so much custom campaign setup and optimization that successful, return-generating campaigns require a deep knowledge of the platform and Google’s algorithms. Getting there requires a sophisticated media plan that maps out your campaign architecture and budget that takes your industry’s seasonality into consideration, researched keyword lists, tagging implementation, and ongoing optimization. 

How Paid Search & SEO Work Together

Integrating the two tactics can lower overall costs and improve conversions. Google search ads are not just based on cost: the auction is actually comprised of three main components:

  • How much you’re willing to pay for a click
  • The quality of the ad you’re running and the quality of your website
  • The expected impact of your ad

Having managed SEO health allows you to excel in the quality aspect of the auction: you have to pay less money for each click. Less money for each click means more money to get additional traffic!

Using tools such as  Google Analytics allows you to measure the direct ROI from each effort. 

Rebel makes things easiest for our clients by creating custom dashboards that tap directly into the data sources in real-time to show how your marketing efforts perform in real-time. 

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