SEO vs. Google Ads

Not sure which is the best strategy to promote your online business? Our informative guide on Google Ads vs SEO will give you the required insight. So which is right? SEO or Google Ads?

Photo of Brodey Sheppard
Brodey Sheppard

SEO and Google Ads are two of the most powerful digital marketing tools for promoting and growing an online business or brand.

The never-ending debate on which is the better marketing strategy tends to confuse business owners who may be just getting started. There isn’t any simple answer to the SEO vs Google Ads debate since many external factors come into play while choosing a method that might best work for the business.

SEO vs Google Ads

That’s why we’ve decided to draw a comparison between both the marketing tools. Here We’ll be highlighting the pros and cons of SEO and Google Ads. And then move on to discussing the benefits of running them together to grow and sustain the business. But before that, We’ll get to know about SEO and Google AdWords individually.

What Is SEO?

SEO or search engine optimisation involves the boosting of a website and its content to enhance its credibility.

When a user conducts a search, Google's evolving algorithm measures your website against all the other sites to match the search with relevant content. To help your web page appear in the search results, you’ll have to use optimisation techniques like internal linking and keyword integration.

Google will then provide every page with a score to decide the listing order after taking into consideration the crucial ranking factors, including content quality, page load speed and site security. A well-optimised site that appears more relevant than competitors will organically rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP).

This will help generate more traffic for the site, leading to higher conversion rates and sales. That’s what SEO is all about; it’s a fundamental part of the digital marketing field.

Having said that, the optimisation process can be divided into three types, depending on where the changes are made, which We’ll now get to know more about.

Different Types of SEO

1. On-Page SEO

The website content should be optimised for relevant keywords to help Google determine the SERPs your site should be ranking on.

2. Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO involves finding relevant websites to link back to your site. This improves the site's credibility and authority, allowing Google to trust you.

3. Technical SEO

Technical SEO ensures that there are no issues affecting how search bots and Google access and read your website content. It also involves making sure that the images, text and pages have the relevant metadata to be listed correctly in search results.

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What Is Google Ads?

Google Ads, previously known as Google AdWords, are paid advertising campaigns that use a set of keywords to help Google know where you want your ad to show up.

Whenever a user conducts a search for a keyword that’s relevant to your content, Google runs an auction between you and the other sites bidding on that keyword to determine which ad ranks higher. Your positioning will be influenced by your bid and quality score.

Each time your ad comes up in the search results and someone clicks on it; you’ll have to pay a fee to Google. That’s why the Google Ads campaign is also referred to as a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform. It helps the advertisers reach interested leads. The cost per click can range from a few dollars to hundreds depending on how competitive the market is.

That said, PPC ads appear in several forms; let's take a look.

1. Google Shopping Ads

These ads usually appear at the top of the SERPs in a carousel format. They include images of the products from different brands and their prices to help users compare.

Example Of Google Shopping Ads

2. Search Ads

These are text ads that generally appear at the top of the SERPs, above the organic search results. They look similar but come with the tag “ad” to help people differentiate them from organic search listings.

Example Of Google Ads

3. Local Service Ads

Then comes locals service ads for service companies that wish to draw more local leads. These are similar to “shopping ads”, but they also list service information of the businesses.

Example Of Google Local Service Ads

SEO Vs PPC/Google Ads

When considering SEO and Google Ads there are two key differences that need to be highlighted. The first is that Google Ads appear at the top of the SERPs, above the organic search results. Secondly, the traffic generated via local SEO or even national and international SEO is free, while the pay-per-click or PPC campaign incurs a cost for each click.

That said, We’ll now provide a comprehensive comparison between SEO and Google Ads by discussing the pros and cons of each. So, let's get started with SEO and then move on to the Google Ads campaign.

Netregistry Seo Vs Google Ads Infographic

Advantages Of SEO

1. Brand Awareness

Search engines help improve website visibility using targeted keywords to put businesses in front of potential customers, which is similar to advertising. These drives brand awareness without the need for paid ads.

Even visibility around informative queries and commercial search terms can ensure a positive branding effect. Searchers asking questions while conducting their research might associate with your brand, leading to higher conversion rates.

2. Higher Click-Through Rate (CTR)

There’s no denying that a higher percentage of people click on organic search results. There are exceptions to this, but you’re more likely to generate increased clicks from high ranking organic listings than from highly placed paid ads.

Clicks To Position Graph

3. Trust And Credibility

Most people tend to skip paid ads and trust the credibility of organic results highly. Businesses with good reviews and reputation that are visible on the organic SERPs are bound to get that all-important stamp of approval.

4. Return On Investment (ROI)

SEO is a slow process that requires a long-term investment, which is generally more cost-effective than other marketing tactics but not entirely cheap. Nonetheless, organic search engine traffic ensures improved ROI compared to the traditional forms of paid media.

Calculating Roi Graphic

5. Sustainability And Scope

Unlike paid search marketing, organic traffic can sustain a business even if you cut back on your marketing budget. There are new queries almost every day, so you’ll need organic visibility to maximise scope.

You won’t have to invest in all kinds of clicks or advertise every piece of website content to reap long-term benefits.

Drawbacks Of SEO

1. Highly Competitive

There could be many businesses competing for the same spot as you. So, your site has to be the most relevant and trusted source of the topic being searched. Only then will you have a chance of improving your SEO rankings. You’ll also have to conduct keyword research to discover the words and phrases people generally use in search engines to get a higher spot on the Google search list.

2. Time-Intensive Process

SEO demands a ton of time; it can take up to months, if not years, to improve website rankings for a particular keyword with no guarantee for the same.

3. Quality-Focused

Flooding a website with keywords no longer tricks Google into giving it good rankings. You’ll have to provide quality and relevant content regularly to get Google algorithms and people to trust the site.

Google considers inbound links as key indicators of trust and authority. As such, they are crucial ranking factors that help websites achieve better rankings. However, finding quality websites to link to your site takes a ton of effort and can be relatively time-consuming.

Advantages Of Google Ads

1. Instant Visibility

Unlike organic search results, AdWords serves as a faster way to get in front of potential customers. This is why people use Google Ads; the campaign can place your website in the most prominent position in the SERPs instantly. So, if you’re a new business, wanting to get noticed quickly, then creating PPC ads is the way to go.

2. Improved Rankings And Better Reach

Paid search dominates the search engine rankings. Plus, they can appear on both websites and apps. This helps PPC ads reach a broader audience.

3. Improved Ads

PPC ads provide you with more control over their appearance and space for delivering your marketing message. You can add texts and other details like the phone number and pricing information of your business to create ads that can dominate the page.

Google also allows you to create visual shopping ads to help people see the products before clicking on them.

4. Targets Audience

With Google AdWords, you need not worry about wasting your marketing budget on people outside your target group. The campaign enables you to decide who sees your ads by targeting ad placements based on factors like location, age, gender, and interests.

It also allows you to select which website they'll be visible on. On the contrary, SEO marketing is more scattered and may not reach the right audience. In this aspect, the PPC wins in the Google AdWords vs SEO debate.

5. A/B Testing

PPC campaigns allow you to run multiple versions of the same PPC ad to see which one gains the most engagement from the audience.

This can be done easily using split-test ads, landing pages, and call-to-action buttons. The derived information can be later fed back to the other digital marketing platforms.

6. Tracking Metrics

Organic search hides keyword data for the sake of privacy, but there’s no restriction with paid search. With tracking and analytic software like Google Analytics, you can determine the percentage and costs at which keywords convert. This information can then be fed into SEO marketing platforms to improve Google search results.

Analytics Example

Drawbacks Of Google Ads

1. Expensive

The cost per click in paid search is relatively high, especially if your business caters to an international audience or the keywords are very competitive. If you don’t spend time optimising ads to reach the target audience, you might end up spending more than what’s required.

Additionally, you’ll have to keep investing in Google Ads to stay in business; if you stop spending money, the ads will stop running.

2. Constant Monitoring

It’s easy to set up PPC ads and leave them to run, but they might not always reach the right people. Suppose you’re reaching out to a broader group of audience. In that case, you’ll be exhausting your budget without receiving much engagement. At the same time, if your audience is small, your Google Ads may not even be seen.

That’s why it’s important to regularly monitor the PPC marketing campaign to review its effectiveness. This will give an idea of what is and isn’t working so that you can make changes accordingly.

The SEO vs PPC debate will continue even in the long-run, so which is the best marketing strategy? There’s no definite answer to this question as it varies depending on the type of business and your website objectives.

You’ll need to evaluate these factors to understand which marketing tool is the best for your business. Ideally, the Google Ads campaign is recommended for a new business or start-ups that wish to get targeted traffic quickly to find customers, test their products or even make sales. You’ll have to pay a cost when someone clicks on your ad, but it guarantees instant results.

For example, if you have an eCommerce site and wish to overcome competition quickly, then investing in PPC ads would be worth it. For an informational website promoting a business, it would be best to improve rankings organically using SEO.

That said, both SEO and Google Ads come with their own set of drawbacks, which we’ve already highlighted above. To overcome them, it’s best to opt for an integrated approach while formulating a digital marketing strategy for promoting your business.

Consider short and long-term business goals. From there you can invest in PPC ad campaigns and compliment them with the right amount of SEO to sustain your ranking. There are many benefits of running SEO and Google Ads together, which We’ll now discuss.

Google Ads Or Seo Graphic

Using Google Ads and SEO Together

It’s better to use Google Ads and SEO in synergy as both come with their own set of pros and cons. Most marketers also recommend using a blend of both SEO and Google Ads in digital marketing campaigns to increase exposure, leads and improve conversion rates. If we go by the AdWords and SEO statistics, this enhances the online potential of any business or brand.

Here We’ll talk about the benefits of running SEO and PPC campaigns together instead of continuing the SEO vs Google Ads debate.

1. Increase In Brand And Business Visibility

Using Google AdWords and SEO doubles the amount of visibility your business can get in a search. This can be done by feeding keywords and conversion date into organic search (SEO). As such, your PPC ads and organic results will increase the number of opportunities for searchers to visit your website.

2. Using PPC keywords To Improve SEO Ranking

You can use Google Ads to bid for the same PPC keywords that target SEO. This helps ensure more exposure for the long and short-tail keywords. Furthermore, PPC allows you to test your keyword strategy to figure out the keywords that will be the most effective for long-term SEO campaigns.

Long Tail Keyword Graphic Example

3. Boosts Website Traffic

SEO and PPC ads together provide the best chances of boosting and earning valuable traffic. Promoting a business with the help of Google AdWords will help you earn traffic quickly. But when you use SEO marketing strategies with it, you’ll get long-term traffic as well.

So which is better? AdWords or SEO in 2021?

To sum up, SEO and PPC ads are not competitors when it comes to choosing the right digital marketing strategy for your brand. The final decision is up to you as it depends on the nature and goals of your business.

If you ask us, it’s best to invest in both SEO and Google Ads to grow your business online. Together, they improve brand visibility and traffic, leading to an increase in the number of leads and sales.

The integrated approach also balances out the downsides to using organic and paid search individually. With AdWords, you get instant results, but SEO is needed to sustain long-term online success.

However, it’s important to note that both strategies need you to spend a significant amount of time and money on growing the online business. So make sure you consider factors like your website objectives and budget before reaching a decision.

Photo of Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey is the CEO of sitecentre and a data-analyst in the SEO, Paid advertising space who uses machine learning and AI to advance sitecentre as an industry-leading digital marketing agency across Australia.

Find them on their website: sitecentre, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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