Should I Optimise or Advertise? Striking the Balance between SEO and Online Promotion!

Posted on: in Internet Marketing The Formula Digital Marketing

When clients approach us wanting to increase their sales through internet marketing, we are often asked by the client whether they should invest their budget in their website and search engine optimisation activities, or whether they should look at online advertising for best results.

The answer to this question is not so much about which approach is more effective, but rather depends on knowing what you wish to achieve as an organisation, and what reputation you intend to nurture online.

Setting the stage

The way in which people consume information online has evolved and continues to do so. In line with this evolution, comes a shift in how we need to represent our products and services. Because the internet has become such an integral part of our lives and is no longer a novelty, people are far more discerning today about what they search for and read than ever before. Comprehensive information that delivers value is what people are looking for and respond to. This has given rise to the inclusion of ‘Content Marketing’ in many online marketing strategies.

In addition to this, the ever increasing pace of our demanding lives today, means that people need to find the answers they seek quicker than before. In a society where instant gratification is the norm, if people don’t find what they are looking for immediately, they simply move on. In other words, when people perceive a link to a website to be able to deliver a specific answer and it doesn’t – they will not only move on quickly, but they are also likely to never return. This is in effect, turning away good business.

What these insights tell us, is that as an organisation, you need to be able to:

A. Provide quality information that addresses real needs and concerns
B. Answer key questions quickly
C. Deliver on any promise of having the right information available

No overnight results

Let’s be 100% clear by stating that no solid online marketing strategy comes dirt cheap. Of course there are clever ways to maximise your online marketing investment, but you do ultimately get what you pay for. Online marketing is as much of an investment in the longevity and success of your business as any other sales and marketing activity. It is refreshing to always keep in mind however, that online marketing efforts yield longer term results that traditional print, or offline marketing efforts. What you put on the internet stays there for a long time and can be repurposed, while a print ad or product launch for example, yields a focused, but limited, one-time exposure to your organisation, products and services. Plan for consistent effort to realise internet marketing success in the long term and you will add significant value to your business.

Understanding the options

To be able to engage in online marketing, it goes without saying that a good website is a must. Whether you aim to invest in SEO or online advertising – your website is the foundation of all your online marketing activity.

While search engine optimisation will attract prospects to your website, online advertising will drive them to your website, so let’s uncover the difference between these two internet marketing approaches:-

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Definition: The process of increasing the visibility of a website in organic, or unpaid search results.

Example: When you type ‘cosmetics cape town’ in your search bar, a list of websites will appear. These are organic results and are never paid for via advertising.

Activities: Keyword optimised website page content / copy, meta page titles and descriptions and more recently, content marketing in the form of blog articles, as well as social media has been added to the mix.


Credibility – When a website ranks high in organic search results, people see your website (and consequently your brand) as being more trustworthy and credible, while leaving an impression with the prospect that you could offer a quality product as a company that takes the time and effort necessary to portray a professional online presence.

Long term results – After your initial investment in SEO, it is merely a question of maintenance. If professionally created, a well optimised website with relevant, regularly updated content (such as your blog) will keep attracting traffic for months and years to come.

Increased conversions – Engaging, informative content that people find and read as the result of a search that they have conducted, is more likely to encourage the prospect to take the next step in the buying process.

Adaptability – A well optimised website will be visible across multiple search engines, so whether your prospect is using Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine, you are more likely to be found.


Time and investment – A professional copywriter is often needed to write your keyword optimised content and an experienced web developer required to ensure that SEO has been applied correctly. Once your website is up and running, you may need to wait patiently for a few months before you see a distinct increase in traffic and conversions. In addition, your initial crop of quality blog articles can take a few months to prepare and yield results, as does a history of quality posts and links via social media.

Competition – Regular updates to content may be needed in industries where contending organisations offer similar services. Keywords may need to be updated to differentiate you from the competition, while essential keywords will remain contended by the competition.

Internet Advertising

Definition: Also known as online advertising, this is the paid promotion of specific marketing messages to encourage a purchase or contact from the prospect.

Example: When you type a search word into your search bar on Google, you will in addition to the organic search results, see a range of paid adverts down the right hand side of the page, as well as along the top of the page. In social media, such as Facebook for example, you will see adverts and promoted posts on the right hand side of your page, as well as within your page feed.

Activities: Paid search engine advertising (such as Google Ads), display advertising (such as rotating banner ads on news portals), and social media advertising (such as Facebook ads).


Lower initial outlay – As opposed to SEO activities which require a more substantial investment at the outset, online advertising is often cheaper in terms of initial outlay. For a few hundred Rand you can launch an ad campaign quickly and easily.

Quick results – Once your advert has been activated, you will not only see the ad appear immediately, but are also likely to experience clicks to your website or ‘likes’ on your social media page within a few hours.

High visibility – If your website returns favourable organic search results, this in addition to high ranking paid adverts, results in your brand being displayed more prominently to that of your competitors.

Highly targeted – Paid online advertising lets you target specific interests, ages and gender, as well as prospects residing within specific geographic locations.


Ongoing investment – Every click or impression requires payment. In other words every time a prospect sees or clicks on your advert, you will need to pay for that interaction.

Questionable quality – Though you may find that prospects are clicking on your ads in order to view your website, or social media page, you can’t be guaranteed that each of these are indeed interested, prospective clients. Whereas traffic via organic search is likely to attract a prospect due to some preconceived interest, advertising does not always attract the same quality of qualified buyer.

Ongoing testing and optimising – You cannot run an online advertising campaign and simply leave it at that. Adverts need to be tested, analysed for results and constantly honed in order to achieve the results that you seek. Time = money, so whether you are managing your advertising campaign yourself, or hiring a professional agency to manage your ad campaign on your behalf – those hours will need to be paid for one way or another.

Making the right choices

Our advice almost always centres around the development of a solid, modern, well optimised website as the starting point for our clients online marketing activities and there is good reason for this. Though it requires a higher initial investment, a good quality website which is informative and a pleasure to navigate, will support your brand, products and services by casting your organisation in a positive, professional light.

In addition to a good website, we recommend a solid content marketing strategy, which aims at providing a constant, consistent flow of valuable information that attracts interested visitors and more qualified prospects. Remember good content is never lost. Unlike adverts, good content can be used for many years and will always boost SEO.

Online advertising should be incorporated as part of your online marketing strategy, but should never be considered the sum total of that strategy. We recommend that online advertising be used to boost the flow of traffic to a really good website that has already been optimised for search engines.


Are you looking to beat the competition and draw in new customers with an outstanding website and solid online marketing strategy? Talk to The Formula. We will ensure that we maximise your online marketing investment and return the positive results that you seek!  Chat to Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib on 021 556 5661 or email us: to set up your FREE consultation. We look forward to helping you and your business flourish!


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