SEO vs Google Ads

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Advice | 0 comments


Perhaps not an age-old question, but certainly one of the most important new age questions for your business! Both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Ads are great ways to boost a company’s digital presence and drive traffic to its website. However, they are quite different in terms of strategy, spend, expertise and pretty much everything else.  

Either way, implementing the right option will pay dividends. So, read on to discover which of these will work best for your business.  


What is SEO?  

We are all familiar with the search engine giant that is Google. Whenever we undertake a search on Google, we are presented with a list of results. This could almost be viewed as a league table, with those searches sitting at the top the result of good SEO. (This doesn’t include ‘sponsored’ results, which we will discuss later).  

When a search is made, Google determines the organic rankings based on various factors, these include – keyword selection, site content quality, site speed, site security, mobile compatibility, user experience and several others. So, as we can see, good SEO requires a high level of professional knowledge across the board.  

SEO can be broken down into three segments and these are:

  • On-page SEO – This involves enhancing and optimizing individual pages on a website using incorporating things like keywords, meta data and headings 
  • Off-page SEO – This looks as areas away from the website in question such as backlinks from external websites, collaborations and social media 
  • Technical SEO – This is focussed on the technical aspects of the website and is best carried out by your web professional. These include site speed, crawlability, structured data and more 

As you can see, an SEO campaign boosts consists of many areas, but how does SEO differ to Google Ads?  


What is Google Ads?  

Google Ads (previously known as Google AdWords) is a paid for, online advertising platform that works on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. So, unlike SEO, the business is literally paying each time one of its online ads is clicked on.  

Google Ads allows companies to advertise products or services across all online properties, these include Google search, YouTube and other partner websites. 

The platform uses a ‘bidding’ strategy, meaning businesses are competing with one another to appear at the top of the sponsored list on the Google results page.   

There are several different versions of ads available via Google ads, with some of the most popular being: 

  • Search Ads – The most popular option, search ads appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), and they resemble a standard Google link with a headline, description and page URL 
  • Display Ads – These are visual ads that appear on Google’s partner websites, apps, and other digital platforms. Google’s display network includes millions of web pages and apps. Ever Googled something and seen an ad the next day for it on another website? This is a display ad in action 
  • Shopping Ads – Shopping ads showcase products with an image and product title, as well as listing price and store name. They appear in Google Shopping and search results and are used exclusively to bolster e-commerce sites and sales 
  • Video Ads – Those adverts that you have to watch before or during your favourite YouTube videos, they are video ads. They aim to drive subscribers, clicks or conversions towards the advertiser 
  • Responsive Ads – These are quite clever and operate by the advertiser providing assets for the ads, for Google to then create them using said assets 


Pros and Cons of SEO  

There are so many benefits to working with a company to boost your SEO. To start with, as SEO is something that is worked at and links appear organically on Google, clicks are free. At the same time, they appear 24/7, as long as the work on the SEO remains at the same level.  

Even though you aren’t paying for keywords as with Google Ads, you can still target specific keywords using things like blogs and other SEO pieces.  

In the long run, SEO is a far more cost-effective strategy, and organic links receive a higher click-through-rate (CTR) than paid ads. It is estimated that the average first and second Google results get a 28.5% CTR, for an ad, this drops to 2%.  

Good SEO is also more generally associated with a better, more trustworthy brand – meaning it can work wonders for a business’s brand awareness.  

However, as with any strategy, there are some drawbacks when it comes to relying on SEO. To begin with, it is a slower process that requires a specialist team of content creators. So, when starting out it’s not cheap, and it can take months to see any kind of result.  

Another issue can be Google, who regularly change their algorithms without too much information on how. 

Finally, depending on the sector, SEO can be highly competitive, and there is no guarantee that your businesses strategy will outrank your competitors.  


Pros and Cons of Google Ads 

Unlike SEO, one of the biggest pros of using Google Ads is that businesses can see results almost instantly. As soon as the ad is live, users will be able to see it. We know from Google Ads, the searches will appear at the very top of the page, above the organic results.  

Because the workload for running an Ads campaign is lower than for SEO, it means that a smaller team is required to undertake the work and monitoring. Google also provide accounts with their own Google Ads expert, which can be very useful for those who are still a little unsure about what they are doing. A Google Ads account also presents a wealth of analytical data for users to analyse.  

The main drawback in using Google Ads, is that it requires a constant spend. So, using Google Ads for a number of years can become very costly, when the money could potentially have been spent building up longer term SEO. Remember, if you pause your Ads or stop them running, your business won’t appear anywhere near the top of the SERP unless SEO work has been done alongside the Google Ads.  


The Verdict 

When used correctly, both approaches have their clear and obvious merits. For those business in their infancy and wanting an initial boost, Google Ads can be perfect. But, in the long term, the value and success of a professionally managed SEO campaign cannot be understated.  

We always recommend speaking to a professional agency, such as WADEDIGITAL, when making these decisions. The agency will then be able to provide insights and assistance to whichever option is selected when moving forwards.   


If you have any queries around SEO vs Google Ads for your business, then please contact us and see how we can help!  

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