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SEO vs Ads - which one wins the race?

I want you to picture a race. It is a regular race that takes place every day and in a multitude of venues.

The racetrack is every search engine and the race itself is a never-ending contest to be #1 or at minimum... one of the top 3 finishers.


The finalists always have a chance to earn cash (aka leads / customers).


So let's look at the top 2 contenders - one vehicle is SEO and the other is Ads. Let's say, both vehicles are sponsored by local ranching businesses. In this scenario, the SEO contender is a snazzy car owned by Ryan's River Ranch. He has taken care of his car and it shows. Besides it's outward beauty, the car zips around obstacles like a ballerina gliding through the air... this car is incredible.

And then there's Fred's Beef Cubes. Fred has an old truck, it's not even a car really and he kind of tinkered it together himself. He really wants to win because he needs the winning pot BUT his vehicle is not up for the challenge, not even slightly. So he's got an ace up his sleeve in the form of an Ad. The racetrack owner is going to have a towtruck pull his "car" through the race for him. Since the towtruck is owned by the track, it's guaranteed he'll make it to #1. All he needs to do is pay the owner a bunch of cash behind the scenes to make it happen. And depending on how dense the competition and how many contestants there are - the more he has to pay to win. Alright we get it...

The jig is up. The race is rigged. Whomever pays the towtruck gets first place. And all the audience knows this but no one really says anything about it because they all see the little, "Ad" sticker on Fred's truck. Fred gets to the end but only if he pays. And he wins some of the pot. Maybe not a lot, maybe not even some, but he has a better chance than he did with his decrepit vehicle.

Ryan's car as we mentioned previously is incredible. Everyone who sees his car is so impressed, they practically cry. Just picture all of that weeping from the bleachers. Such emotion. Such magnificence.


Ryan's engine purrs and speeds smoothly down the track (page loading speeds and server performance), brakes on a dime (perfectly functioning forms and content), sleek leather seats (gorgeous UI / web design) and exterior that captures the entire audience (rich content and meta code), a steering wheel and tires that turn like slicing through butter (perfectly navigating incoming and outgoing links without breaks or stutters)... this car is a BEAUTY!


In order for the SEO car to even be qualified for the race - it obviously has to be a vehicle in TIP TOP SHAPE. After all, it's not going to be pulled by the towtruck, it has to get to the finish line on it's own. But for the Ads car, it doesn't matter if it can even run because it always gets to the top and we all know how.


The Ad vehicle can literally be a broken piece of garbage without an axle and no rear view mirrors or gas and still... be towed to the finish line. It's not getting to the top with it's own engine or merit. It's buying it's way to the top. Being pulled, ferried...  CARRIED.


Are Ads bad? Nah. They're fine! Well, they're not great... Who's making all that money?


If there is a pot at the end of this race and you buy your way to the top, yes, you may (not guaranteed by the way) win some money... but how much in comparison would you have won if you got there on your own without having to "buy" into the race every single time? And did you mostly pay to get to the end and lose money? Did you only earn a few pennies? How much is paying for a guaranteed spot actually costing you?


Frankly... Fred is losing a lot of dough by paying the racetrack (aka search engine) for his #1 spot. He's too afraid to sink any money into fixing his vehicle and he won't give up control over the maintenance and repairs so he's stuck with a terrible website (cough, I meant truck) that doesn't run well and he keeps spending cash time and again in hopes of earning money. Trying in vain to get where he wants to be.


Ryan on the other hand, invested some pretty pennies into his racecar from the beginning. He loves his car and takes it in for maintenance when needed. Hiring a pit crew to shine, polish, tweak and repair his car so it's running at it's best at all times.

When Fred stops paying for help from that towtruck, he'll stop winning the race. Until he gets a better car (website with SEO) or spends repair money on his vehicle to get it working properly (SEO), he's going to either keep paying for Ads aka towtruck forever or completely lose out on earning anything from that winning pot.


So which is better?

Invest, don't throw your money away.


My grandfather always taught me to work with the best tools I could afford to achieve the best results. If I earned $10. with a rusty saw, I'd take $8. and invest in a newer saw. And when I earn $20. working twice as fast with the new saw, take $15. and buy an electric saw. Now I can make $50. an hour with my fast, reliable saw just 3 steps from my starting line. But if I had never invested my money into my tools and instead I threw money at a street crier to yell about my hard roughly crafted work using feeble gear... I would have basically been throwing my money away and it would have taken me much longer to make more money.

So I learned to invest slowly into my tools and from there, my tools would provide for me. In other words, you spend the money to equip yourself and you keep earning. But if you throw money at the racetrack for a guaranteed spot or you spend it on a street crier or a twirling sign baron... you only earn a pittance (minus your ad money).


Hope you enjoyed my race analogy (and tools) as much as I did.

TNW Creations is a Web Development & Media Publishing Agency in Austin, Texas. Web Development, cyber security, web design, clean energy web host, Advanced SEO, Digital Marketing and more since 1995.

I've been programming, designing, writing and publishing professionally online since 1995. I've worn many hats throughout my life, but the common core of my career has always been media. Besides the portfolio you see on TNW Creations, my internet presence has been substantial for over 2 decades. In 1995, while still in college, I founded TNW Creations and became part of the grassroots development for teaching the Lakhota language online. By 2004, my bilingual work was listed on many sites, including National Geographic , Encarta and Touchstone Pictures Hidalgo. When I'm not developing and writing, you'll find me managing MagicStoryLand.Com, creating kid-friendly game & video content, investigating and initating hostile website takedowns, posting salty articles about cyber threats, moderating UnifyLife.Org and enjoying my  community, church & family.