Google Ads vs. SEO: Which to choose and when?

Google Ads vs. SEO


As marketing has evolved in recent years, there has been a lot of debate over the importance of Google. Specifically, the question has risen as to whether to invest your time and money into SEO (search engine optimisation) or Google Ads (PPC campaigns.)

In truth, this comparison is like comparing apples and oranges, because both strategies can be useful in their own right. Both Google AdWords and SEO helped position your brand in search results for specific search terms. However, there are some key differences, such as SEO rankings playing a role in higher organic search results.

Instead of asking “Is SEO dead?” and “Which should I invest in for my online marketing?” we think a more important question is “Which to choose and when?” which is what this blog post covers.

We take a look at the comparison of Google Ads vs SEO including a look at the purpose of Google Ads campaigns and SEO strategies, and which is right for your business.

Google Ads vs SEO: Overview

What are Google Ads (PPC)?

Google AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click advertising, and allows businesses and website owners to bid on keywords that people are typing into a Google search. The bonus is that you only pay for the clicks on your ad, meaning you’re only paying for the leads who visit your site or call your business as a result of your advertising campaign.

PPC campaigns are great because they can give you an immediate boost to your search results. When setting up your ads, you’re able to specifically target areas of your choosing, such as geographical areas, or interests, making them a solid advertising choice for businesses promoting a specific deal or product.

Because of the immediateness associated with Google Ads, they can be a worthwhile investment for companies who don’t have the budget for full SEO, and for businesses who want to target people quickly. We love Google Ads for the ability to prove return-on-investment, as it’s very easy for you to say “I spent X and got Y” by tracking conversion rates and more.

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Where Google Ads is a useful tool for quick traffic boosts, search engine optimisation is a long-term game.

Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO for short) is all about improving organic rankings. SEO requires time and patience, and is the process and routine of including content on your site that improves your site’s visibility over time.

SEO and Google is based off of a number of factors that require constant and regular attention. In fact, there are over 200 ranking factors that business owners ought to be aware of, but we want to highlight the top 3:

  1. Keywords: Every page, post and piece of content on your site should be focused around a specific keyword, which would be a search term that someone is typing into Google. The more times the keyword is used on a page, the more Google likes what you have to offer!
  2. Content: Google highly regards websites that post regular content, especially if it’s helpful content that people are searching for. 
  3. Backlinks: The more links you have referring to a landing page or blog post (from the likes of other websites and social media), the more Google deems that content authoritative and worthy of higher organic search results.

In theory, search engine optimisation can cost you nothing, because there’s no cost to appear in organic search results with Google. More so, continually SEO like on-page and off-page SEO can be done by in-house marketers.

That being said, content and link-building is something a lot of businesses choose to outsource, and when this is the case, a large investment is needed for a good-quality SEO agency to deliver results.

Which should I invest in and when?

In our experience, search engine optimisation and Google Ads can work well together when used properly. For example, if you’ve been continually optimising your website over time for specific keywords, Google Ads can be a good way to test specific keywords that you’ve been considering and the consumer response to those.

By doing so, you can track if those new keywords are worth using and converting well, and then roll those keywords into your SEO strategy. Similarly, SEO data can give you ideas for Google Ads, helping you understand what keywords could generate high conversion rates and a higher return-on-investment.

However, we recognise that some businesses might not have the time, nor the investment, to commit to both Google Ads and SEO. If that’s the case, here are some circumstances to consider:

  • New Website - Use Google Ads: A new website needs to generate traffic quickly, so Google Ads is an effective way to start building an online footprint, and influence any eventual SEO you might undertake.
  • Fast Growth - Use Google Ads and SEO together: SEO and Google Ads used in conjunction can rapidly grow your site, both organically and to specific audiences.
  • Medium Growth - Use SEO: If you’re an established website and brand looking to grow in the long term, then SEO is right for you. With a regular content strategy, your site will inevitably grow over time.

Which strategy will you take?

Answering the question of Google Ads vs SEO is complicated, and the short answer is “Why not both?” but also “It depends”.

We hope that this blog has helped you determine which is right for your business, and how your brand can go exponentially by taking advantage of both search engine optimisation and Google Ads. If you’re ready to take action, and need help implementing an SEO or PPC strategy, then we’re here to help!