Firstly, let me dispel a myth here. SEO is not free at all. SEO cost is 100% spent as labour cost (i.e. you have to pay an agency or staff members to do it) as opposed to Google Ads which is partly labour cost and partly advertising cost. Depending on how much time you spend on it, SEO could cost you more than Google Ads.
That said, I’m not dismissing organic as a strategy – by all means a high ranking in organic search will improve your business significantly.
It can take months, even years to see results from SEO especially for new businesses and websites, so that initial labour cost takes a while to recoup.
It is possible to get organic traffic from search engines without investing any time or money into SEO, but then you run into the trouble of scale. Without investing heavily in SEO it is very challenging to scale organic traffic from search engines. On the other hand, you can put in a much smaller amount of effort through Google Ads and immediately start getting targeted traffic to your website which (for smaller advertisers at least) can scale up or down to any budget fairly easily.
Also, you need to consider the quality of your traffic. Paid search traffic will convert better than organic traffic if you have a local service and you need to target a specific geographical region, or if you’re ranking organically for irrelevant keywords.
Finally it’s difficult to optimize SEO campaigns because you can’t always know what actions led to increased or decreased rankings. This can lead you to feel like the whole thing is a black box process. If you go with an agency you have to hope that you’ve found one that uses high quality techniques, because some agencies use unscrupulous techniques to try to trick Google. This can come back to bite you over the long run because Google regularly updates its algorithms to prevent these tricks from working.
None of this is to scare you out of using SEO as a strategy, but certainly consider whether a paid Google Ads strategy may help you achieve your financial goals faster (and then pay for some of that SEO perhaps!).
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