Recently, a Google Certified specialist was back-seat driving as I wrote one of my client blog posts. The specialist and I disagreed about the use of tags. The client got caught in the middle. Bummer.

Google Certification is “a globally recognized stamp of approval which showcases knowledge of the latest AdWords tools and best practice techniques and will enable you to effectively manage AdWords campaigns.” I am not a Google Certified specialist, instead I specialize in regional content and SEO, kind of the opposite of Adwords.

Think of it this way: SEO and optimized, diversified content (SEM) are like eating locally grown organic produce. Adwords is like buying a Big Mac at the drive thru. Both will slake your hunger, but each has a unique long-term effect.

Adwords and optimized content can both be targeted at very specific audiences, but the similarity stops there. Adwords is advertising, SEO is marketing. Let’s look at the line up:

SEO (Aka: Natural Search, Organic Search)

  • Brings higher quality traffic to your website for the long haul
  • Google Indexes content
  • Appeals to a wider audience
  • Is limitless
  • Is economical
  • Can be very focused
  • Is Creative
  • Can be educational
  • Is good for keeping your audience coming back time and again
  • When the SEO campaign stops, the traffic keeps coming (think evergreen content)

 

Adwords (Aka: PPC, Pay Per Click)

  • Great for generating traffic quickly
  • Google does not index ads
  • Has to be very specific
  • Cannot be Diverse
  • Can be very expensive
  • Is limited by budget
  • Uses only a limited number of words
  • Is Analytical
  • Can be Risky
  • Is good for testing
  • At the end of the campaign the traffic stops

According to SEOMOZ.org, the most reputable online resource for SEO in the last ten years, “SEO drives 75%+ of all search traffic, yet garners less than 15% of marketing budgets for SEM campaigns. PPC receives less than 25% of all search traffic, yet earns 80%+ of SEM campaign budgets.”

They can work well in harmony, but if you had to choose one, it’s obvious that natural search results bring the lion’s share of the traffic, visitors, and money. Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?

Here is a fun article about Google Certification: There is no Google Certification for SEO. Google is not a charitable organization – they make money on Adwords.

They don’t make any money off SEO or well-written content, people do.