Spending money on search ads definitely can help you beat your competition, but it doesn’t guarantee it. It is a tool, and just like all tools, it has to be utilized properly to work in your convenience. One of the best tools that give your company a competitive advantage is to spend on search ads. Although that’s not going to directly show results, rather than it will hopefully help to show results gradually. Spending money on paid ads doesn’t guarantee anything but the fact that your website will come up as an advertisement when people search your keyword. One of the main reasons this is effective in the long term is because search engines like google order the results of a search based mostly on the number of clicks. While it also takes into account the quality of your website, increasing your click amount will help tremendously. By paying for ads (if done properly), you will likely see a pretty significant increase (depending on how much $ you spend) in the amount of clicks. The clicks that you rack in through your ad will count in the google search algorithm, therefore it will help your actual non-paid result come up from searches at a higher spot. Assuming that you are already getting some clicks from your non-advertised website, you will now be getting attention from multiple links. The advertised link will be the most effective because they appear right away. This may not seem like a big deal but when you break this process down, you realize that not using this process, may just make or break you! Did you know that 75% of users don’t scroll past the first page. That means if you’re not on the first page, out of every 4 potential consumers looking for your company’s service, only 1 of them will even consider you. 60% of searchers will click on one of the top 3 results. This shows the importance of using both SEM and SEO to secure a high rank. It is imperative to be above the fold to make your website the most effective. A way to “skip the line” and help to ensure you get there is by paying for ads. But, because you can get there without paying (although extremely difficult), I would say that you do not HAVE to pay to beat competitors. Think of it like a race, paying won’t guarantee that you win the race, but it will likely give you a pretty decent head start! Now one must also consider that click doesn’t necessarily mean business, so while paying will help you in the click department, if your website isn’t quality, you will not capitalize on these opportunities each click gives you. You will also get poor retention. Lastly if you offer a product or service that people don’t want at your given price, then all the paid-ads in the world won’t help you, in fact, it will hurt you because now you are spending money or something that is not the right decision for your business. That money should go into changing something about your company, website or product.