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In a perfect world, you’ll have unlimited budget and can experiment endlessly with how to grow your website traffic. However, most of us must make choices about where to start with digital marketing and that can include choosing between Organic traffic (SEO) and paid traffic (ex: Google Ads). How will you know which one is more likely to bring you value? Today we’re going to look at a few factors that will help you decide.

A good place to start the conversation can be brand recognition. If you have hundreds or even thousands of users looking for you each month, you’ll want to make sure they can find you. Sure, you probably rank close to the top of page one for your own name, but if you’re not showing ads on searches for your company name or signature products, someone else probably is. Making sure you protect your brand (and gather the sales stemming from your brand recognition) is a smart step and a vote for ‘show some ads’.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also consider some SEO, but Google Ads might be your starting point if a competitor is directly benefitting from the fact that you don’t currently show ads.

Competition is an important factor in all your marketing decisions. If you’re in a highly competitive field, you’ll want to make sure you lay a foundation of good SEO. Even if you’re currently at the bottom of the rankings, cleaning up technical errors, finding the right keywords and making sure they show up in the right places is a strong long-term strategy. You might not see much movement in the first few weeks…and depending on the level of competition it might take a few months to see movement, but laying the groundwork will help all future efforts.

If you are in a medium to high competition market, starting with SEO could be a good choice. High competition also means Google Ads traffic might be more expensive. If the bar for entry is too high on Ads, starting with some SEO makes good sense.

A third factor that you should consider is, what are your goals? If you need to see growth immediately, Google Ads is probably the right channel to start with. Ads start gathering traffic as soon as they clear editorial review, which is usually an hour or less. By comparison, even the most successful SEO optimization can take weeks (or longer) to evaluate so if you need quick feedback on a new product or want to launch a promotion with an impending deadline, Ads are probably the way to go.

These points (and many others) should be considered if you’re jumping into a digital marketing cycle. If you’re curious about how your site can improve and how your goals can be met, you might want to consider a quick round of research. By documenting your goals, competitors and site metrics you can create a detailed plan for testing new traffic and making sure you get the most out of the new users. If that’s a conversation you’re currently having, get in touch. We’re ready to help.