Paid Search, SEO

SEO vs. Paid Search: Finding an optimal balance for maximum results

June 6, 2023

In the world of digital marketing, businesses often face the decision between investing in search engine optimization (SEO) or paid search advertising. However, the true power lies in finding the right balance between these two channels to achieve optimal results. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of SEO and paid search, address common misconceptions, and provide guidance on how to integrate both channels effectively to maximize visibility, traffic, and conversions. By understanding their respective strengths and leveraging them strategically, businesses can create a holistic search marketing approach that drives sustainable growth.

SEO: Harnessing the power of organic search

SEO focuses on optimizing a website’s visibility in organic search results. Let’s explore the pros and cons of SEO:


  • Long-term visibility: SEO efforts, when done effectively, can yield long-term visibility, as organic search results are not directly influenced by ad spend.
  • Trust and credibility: Higher organic rankings often result in increased trust and credibility among users, leading to higher click-through rates.
  • Cost-effective: While initial SEO efforts require time and resources, the long-term benefits can be cost-effective, as organic traffic does not require ongoing ad spend.


  • Time-consuming: SEO is a long-term strategy that requires continuous optimization, content creation, and link-building efforts to maintain and improve rankings.
  • Uncertain rankings: Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving, and maintaining top rankings requires adaptability to algorithm updates.
  • Limited control: Unlike paid search, businesses have limited control over the placement and appearance of their organic listings in search results.

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*According to a study by BrightEdge, organic search is responsible for 53.3% of website traffic, making it a significant source of web traffic and potential customers.

Paid Search: Instant visibility with targeted ads

Paid search involves bidding on keywords and displaying ads in search engine results. Let’s examine the pros and cons of paid search:


  • Immediate visibility: Paid search ads can provide instant visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive immediate traffic to a website.
  • Targeted advertising: Paid search allows businesses to precisely target specific keywords, demographics, locations, and interests, reaching a highly relevant audience.
  • Measurable results: Paid search campaigns provide detailed analytics and performance metrics, enabling businesses to track conversions, optimize campaigns, and achieve a high return on ad spend (ROAS).


  • Ongoing costs: Paid search requires continuous investment to maintain visibility and traffic. When ad spend decreases or stops, traffic and conversions can decline.
  • Ad blindness: Some users may develop ad blindness and skip over paid search results, preferring organic listings.
  • Ad budget limitations: Depending solely on paid search can be cost-prohibitive for some businesses, especially in highly competitive industries.

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*In 2020, Google Ads generated $147 billion in advertising revenue, emphasizing its effectiveness and popularity.

Finding the right balance: Integrated search marketing strategy

To achieve maximum visibility, traffic, and conversions, businesses should strive for an integrated search marketing strategy that leverages the strengths of both SEO and paid search.

Here’s how to find the right balance:

  • Identify synergy: Identify areas where SEO and paid search can work together, such as targeting high-value keywords with paid search ads while concurrently optimizing website content for organic search.
  • Keyword insights: Utilize keyword research to identify high-intent keywords that are suitable for paid search campaigns while simultaneously optimizing website content to rank organically for relevant keywords.
  • Remarketing: Implement remarketing strategies to target users who visited your website through

How LQ Digital can help

We have 17 years of experience providing businesses from the Insurance, Mortgage, Financial, and Software/IT industries with full technical SEO and Paid Search audits. By dedicating copywriters, CRO experts, technical SEO experts, content creators, and more to your project, we are wholistically focused on growth and are able to undertake more than just improving your site rankings.

1. Holistic approach to SEO – We work across all pillars of SEO (tech SEO, content, UX, Info arch, internal & external linking, etc.) and emphasize what we think will move the SEO needle for a site rather than assigning arbitrary % influence to the different pillars.

2. LQ team functions as a partner – Our team can be as embedded in day-to-day website operations as a client needs. We frequently directly engage with developers and other teams to assign tickets, create wireframes, give training, and do other activities that directly move SEO and Paid Search recommendations forward within a client’s organization. We won’t simply kick recommendations over the fence and hope a client can execute them.

3. All SEO recommendations are prioritized – Anytime an SEO recommendation is given, whether via an SEO audit or during a meeting, prioritization, and expected impact context is always provided so client teams can make proper assessments as to which actions should be worked on before others to maximize SEO impact for a site.

4. LQ actions are always practical – To us, “best practices” is a bad word. Action items for SEO and Paid Search always come from a place of level of impact, relevancy, and how practical it will be for a client to execute based on manpower, resources, and existing challenges that may be unique to a client’s site. We will never recommend and/or prioritize an action for the sole reason of it being a best practice, and if a best practice item is included in a list of recommendations for the sake of thoroughness, it will always be prioritized as low.

5. We specialize in technical SEO – LQ never approaches technical SEO from a checklist standpoint. We get under the hood of your site and manually comb through source code, review how technical site implementations may be inadvertently causing SEO issues, and dig into the details of how a site is technically communicating with a search engine at a detailed level.

If you would like to schedule a time to speak with one of our experts and explore how LQ Digital can help optimize both your SEO and Paid Search channels for maximum impact, please fill out the form below: