What is the difference between search advertising and SEO? Explaining the mechanism, characteristics, and how to choose



  • Many people may be wondering whether they should implement “search advertising” or “SEO” measures.

    Both are web customer attraction measures that use search engines, but there are differences in the mechanisms, costs, and cases in which they are most likely to be effective.

    “What is the difference between search advertising and SEO?”

    “I want to attract customers in the most suitable way for my company!”

    In this article, we will introduce the characteristics and differences between search advertising and SEO, as well as cases in which each measure is recommended, for those who have the above concerns.

    If you are a web person who wants to focus on attracting customers online and increase sales, please read this book.

    What is search advertising? [structure]

    Search advertising is “advertisements displayed in conjunction with keywords searched by users” on search engines such as Google and Yahoo!.

    They are displayed at the top of the search, and are marked with a small “ad” to distinguish them from regular search results.

    As the name suggests, search ads are a type of advertising and therefore incur costs.

    However, unlike advertisements that incur costs just for publication, search advertising is a pay-per-click advertising system in which a fee is incurred for every “user click.”

    What is SEO? [structure]

    SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization.

    Roughly speaking, it is a method of attracting customers by optimizing your website so that it appears at the top of search results (natural search).

    SEO is not advertising, so there is no cost to rank higher.

    In order to rank high, you need to understand how Google works, create content that will be liked by search users, and maintain your site.

    However, since “how Google determines rankings (= search algorithm)” is not made public, SEO measures are basically hypothesis-based.

    Remember that there is no guaranteed way to rank high.

    Difference between search advertising and SEO

    The difference between search advertising and SEO can be summarized as follows: “Search advertising attracts access by paying advertising costs” and “SEO attracts access by displaying recommendations in searches.”

    There are six major differences between search advertising and SEO:

    Difference between search advertising and SEO


    search ads


    Publication position

    Advertising space

    natural search frame

    click rate






    Immediate effect






    asset quality


    can be

    To make it easier to understand the difference between SEO and search advertising, we will explain the characteristics of each in the next chapter.

    Features of search ads

    First, let’s explain the characteristics of search ads.

    1. Immediate effect [Advantage]

    A major feature of search ads is that they are quick to display and produce results.

    If you configure the submission settings and pass the ad review, you can publish your ad on the same day if possible.

    Unlike SEO, it can be displayed at the top of search results immediately, so the time it takes to see results is shorter.

    2. High controllability [Advantage]

    Search ads have the advantage of being easy to control where they appear.

    The ranking of search ads is determined in an auction format based on “bid price” and “ad quality.”

    Therefore, by adjusting the budget etc., it is possible to display the advertisement in the desired position to some extent.

    3. Low click rate [Disadvantages]

    Search advertising often has a lower click-through rate than SEO.

    Many users dislike ads, so they tend to be less likely to be clicked than natural search.

    4. Advertising costs are high [Disadvantages]

    As mentioned above, advertising costs are required to attract customers with search ads.

    You pay for each click.

    If you stop advertising, it will no longer appear in search results and you will no longer be able to attract customers, so advertising costs will continue to be incurred during the advertising period.

    Features of SEO

    Next, we will introduce the characteristics of SEO.

    1. High click rate [Advantage]

    SEO tends to have a higher click-through rate than search ads.

    If you are ranked 1-3 in SEO, the number of traffic to your website will be overwhelmingly higher from organic search (SEO) than from search ads.

    However, if you are ranked 4th or lower, search ads may have a higher click-through rate (this also varies depending on the keyword).

    2. Has asset quality [Advantage]

    SEO involves gradually increasing content that is useful to users.

    It can be said that once created content becomes an asset for a company.

    If you continue to work on SEO, your reputation with Google and users will increase.

    As a result, you will not only be able to rank higher, but you will also be able to build a system that allows you to attract customers stably without having to keep spending on advertising.

    3. Rank cannot be controlled [Disadvantages]

    With search ads, you can control the placement to a certain extent, but with SEO, you can’t control it.

    Search rankings are determined by Google’s undisclosed algorithm, and there is no know-how that says, “If you do 〇〇, you will definitely rank first.”

    Even if you follow Google’s advice, you may not be able to improve your rankings and see results.

    4. No immediate effect [Disadvantages]

    SEO is a measure that pursues results over the medium to long term, so there is no immediate effect.

    Various factors are involved in determining search rankings, and improving one thing alone will not result in a rapid rise in rankings; instead, it is necessary to improve the overall evaluation.

    It generally takes 4 months to 1 year to see results with SEO.

    Which is more effective: search advertising or SEO? [How to choose the one that suits your company]

    Now that you know the difference between the two measures, some of you may be wondering, “Which one should I choose?”

    For such people, we will explain how to choose search advertising and SEO.

    In conclusion, there is no superiority or inferiority of measures.

    Both have their pros and cons, so it’s better to consider them in terms of their suitability rather than their superiority or inferiority.

    Choose measures that suit your business objectives and products.

    Cases in which search ads are recommended

    There are four main cases in which search advertising is recommended.

    4 cases where search advertising is recommended

    • I want to see results in a short period of time
    • Temporary effect is sufficient
    • lack of resources
    • SEO measures are difficult

    Compared to SEO, search advertising takes less time from the start of a strategy until it becomes effective.

    Also, since advertising is dependent on cost, it can also be used for only a short period of time.

    Therefore, search advertising may be effective if you want to see results as quickly as possible, or if you only need temporary effects to match the campaign.

    Search ads are also recommended if you don’t have a lot of resources.

    Search ads are easier to use than SEO.

    Once you learn how to set it up, you can start posting ads right away, so if you don’t have the resources, it’s a good idea to use search ads.

    Furthermore, search advertising is also effective when SEO measures are difficult.

    If there is too much SEO competition or if the competing sites are operated by major companies, it may be difficult to rank high even if you take SEO measures.

    In such cases, it would be wiser to choose search advertising, even if it costs a little more, than to implement SEO measures whose effectiveness is unknown.

    Depending on the industry, search advertising may or may not be suitable.

    Therefore, you need to determine whether your company’s industry is suitable for search advertising in the first place.

    Cases where SEO is recommended

    There are three main cases in which SEO is recommended.

    3 cases where SEo is recommended

    • I want continuous results over the medium to long term
    • resources available
    • I want to greatly increase access to my website

    Although SEO takes several months to become effective, its effects are also long-term.

    Therefore, it is a recommended measure if you want lasting effects or if you have the resources to support it over the medium to long term.

    SEO is also recommended if you want to significantly increase the number of visits to your website.

    Most of the websites that exist in the world receive a large amount of traffic from SEO.

    In recent years, there have been cases where the majority of access comes from SNS, but if you have few followers on SNS, it is difficult to supplement SEO with SNS alone.

    In other words, if you want to increase traffic to your website, you can’t avoid working on SEO.

    [Ideal] Use search ads and SEO together

    After reading this explanation, do you think that it is better to use either search or SEO?

    In fact, it is ideal to use search advertising and SEO together.

    Search advertising is a method that is likely to be effective in the short term, but in order to obtain continuous traffic over the long term, you will need to continue spending money.

    On the other hand, although SEO takes time to become effective, it tends to be cost-effective in the long run as content increases as an asset on the site.

    • Search advertising → tends to be effective in the short term.
    • SEO → High cost-effectiveness in the medium to long term.

    Therefore, until the effects of SEO begin to appear, you can use search advertising, which can be expected to be effective in the short term, to advance your business with a strategy that takes advantage of the characteristics of each.

    It’s like they complement each other’s deficiencies.

    The important thing is to understand the characteristics of search advertising and SEO and use them effectively together.

    There is no right or wrong as to which is better or worse, so you need to carefully consider your company’s situation before selecting and using them together.

    Do search ads affect SEO?

    Have you ever heard the rumor that using search ads and SEO together will have an impact on SEO?

    Actually, this rumor is a lie.

    Using search ads and SEO together will not affect the ranking of your SEO content.

    Google operates its own YouTube channel “Google Webmasters‘ and denies the rumor.

    Google’s philosophy is to “organize the world’s information and make it accessible and usable to people all over the world,” so it does not do things that distort its philosophy, such as giving advertisers an advantage in search engines. Probably. (reference:Google – About Google, Our Culture & Company News

    If you are thinking of using search advertising and SEO together, please feel free to do so.

    [Summary] Use different measures depending on your budget and purpose

    We explained the difference between search advertising and SEO, which are often used to attract customers on the web.

    Not only companies that are not working on search advertising or SEO, but also companies that are already working on them, should take this opportunity to review their future web marketing strategies.

    However, search advertising and SEO are measures that require specialized knowledge and skills.

    It is true that it is difficult to say that a company that has not engaged in web marketing until now can start working on it tomorrow and immediately see results.

    In fact, you may have researched search advertising and SEO and thought, “It seems difficult,” or “Can we do it?” Have you ever felt anxious?

    For such people, we recommend that you contact an agency that handles advertising agencies and SEO agencies.

    By hiring an agency, you can work on web marketing such as search advertising and SEO even if you do not have specialized knowledge or skills.