Google Search Ads or SEO: What to choose?

Google Search Or SEO

You have a business and want your website to get you more clients, right?
Showing up on Google when your potential clients search for your products or services is one of the best ways to do just that.

There are two ways to achieve that:

Google Search Ads can get you instant traffic and results. They are also awesome but you have to keep paying to keep getting the traffic. 

Search Engine Optimization is the method used to earn you better organic results. It is awesome and you should do it. But keep in mind that it is going to take time, money and resources to achieve good organic traffic. 


What you choose to focus on depends largely on your unique business situation.

If you are in a niche with many established competitors it will be hard to compete with them organically, at least in the short term. It may be better to focus on Search Ads.

On the other hand if you are a small local business, with little competition and a limited search volume for your services, you could achieve good visibility with SEO.

In this table you can see the main differences between the two:


Google Search Ads SEO
Fast Results Slow Results
More control Less control
Results stop when you stop paying Long lasting results

Now that you know the main differences, let’s dive deeper into why each method is valuable and how they can work together.

Why should I use Google Search Ads?

Top position: Most of the time paid ads are positioned above organic results. Typically four ads are shown on desktop and three on mobile. A lot of users will scroll past them, but many will see and click on them. Luckily you pay only when they are clicked.

More ways to stand out: Google Search Ads offer you more control and space for your marketing messages. You can add your phone number, location, additional links to other sections of your website and much more. This all helps you stand out more to your potential clients.

You can show off your products: With Google Shopping ads you can show off your products with pictures, prices, inventory and even current promotions you are running. This grabs the searcher’s attention and greatly improves click-through rates.

Google Shopping Ads

Brand visibility: Even if searchers don’t click your ad and go to the organic result it is still shown to them… for free. This visibility can pay dividends down the road.

Control over budget: You can Google Search Ads on virtually any budget. If you want you can spend $1 per day or $10 000, it is up to you and your goals. Also you can adjust it as you go for even more flexibility!

Laser sharp targeting: Google Search Ads can be targeted by a lot of ways such as search keywords, time of day, day of the week, geography, language, device and audiences based on previous visits. Organic traffic, by comparison, offers far less control over targeting. You can choose keywords where you do not have good organic results to maximize exposure.

Speed: As explained in the SEO section, it takes time to develop good organic visibility. A Google Search Ads campaign can be created in days and can get you traffic right from the get go. There is no faster way to get in front of customers who are searching on Google than paid advertising.

Helps you make better decisions: Due to their speed Google Search Ads can help you test new ideas, products or marketing messages much better. You get very quick feedback from your potential clients and check if your new idea has potential or not. This is a very valuable tool to help you make better decisions. 

Another advantage is that a well setup Google Ads account can give you information about which specific search term led to a website conversion and the cost associated with it. This can be used not only to optimize your ads but to adjust your SEO efforts as well. The search term information is limited for organic queries due to privacy concerns.

Google Search Ads is awesome for A/B testing as well. You can test different calls-to-action, text copy or landing pages and see what works best and fast! Again, this information can be fed back into all other marketing efforts.

Stability: Organic results can be hugely impacted from changes in the ranking algorithms. Google Ads does not have the same problems. Even if there are changes in the system, it is usually much easier to make the necessary adjustments in your campaigns.

Scalability: Once you achieve a good positive ROI you can easily scale up your campaigns by increasing the budget or adding more related keywords. Over time they can be optimized further to drive down costs and increase profits.

The Disadvantages of Google Search Ads

As with SEO, there are many benefits to Google Search Ads. However, there are also some disadvantages.

Google Search Ads require constant reinvestment. If you stop paying, your ads stop showing and the results also dry up quickly. To some extent this is also true with SEO but it takes much longer time for competitors to overtake you. As long as you have a positive ROI this should not be much of a problem as you can have available funds from the sales the ads generate. But there are cases when it takes longer time to monetize the leads so funds are not yet available to reinvest.

The time when Google Ads was relatively underused are long over. Most business owners know its power and the competition is increasing. This can drive up the costs of advertising and make it harder to achieve great returns. As with SEO, it is advisable to have an experienced specialist to handle your Google Ads account so you can beat competitors and avoid costly mistakes.

Why should I use Search Engine Optimization?

Traffic: If you achieve good organic positions, they will bring you a lot of traffic. This gives you opportunities to educate them about what you offer and more possibilities to turn them into customers.

Trust & Credibility: When your site shows up high in the organic results it can influence its perceived credibility. A lot of people trust mainly the organic results and skip the paid ads. Having a well positioned website on Google is hard to achieve and if you earn it it comes with a very important stamp of approval.

Sustainability:  When you achieve good organic visibility it will pay dividends over time. Even if you stop your SEO efforts you will still get traffic from organic results, which is not the case with paid ads. This is a very important advantage of SEO, as in times when budgets are cut back, you can still rely on your organic traffic.

Return on investment (ROI): Over the long term investing in SEO can provide an improved ROI, you just need to give it enough time. It has a bigger initial investment to research and plan your SEO efforts and also to continually execute them. Unless you are a SEO specialist you will need to hire one but in the long term it will pay off handsomely. 

Branding and Awareness: With good SEO you can reach people from all stages of their buyer’s journey – when they are in the research phase or when they are ready to make a purchase. This is a good long term tactic to increase brand awareness and recognition. It is harder to do with paid search ads because of the budget required to bid on that many different search terms.

Strategic advantage: Good organic results are not easy to achieve. This can be a deterrent when you start but is a strategic advantage once you have them. People tend to prefer the organic results to the paid ad above it. It is not something your competitors can easily pay their way into.

The Disadvantages of SEO

There are certainly cons to SEO. If your industry is very competitive and dominated by old established websites – it will be hard to beat them. After all they may have years of head-start. 

Good SEO requires time, strategy and a lot of high quality content, which is expensive to produce and not many businesses have the in-house resources to develop it. 

Changes in Google’s ranking algorithm affect your organic positions and it can take a long time to get your top results back.

Also a large portion of organic traffic is in the research phase. They visit your site for information and are not yet ready to make a purchase. If you rely solely on SEO it is harder to re engage with your visitors and convert them to clients. This is why a more holistic approach is often better.

An integrated approach

In most cases an integrated approach is the best way to go. Search ads and SEO can support each other synergistically. When you use them both you can combine their advantages and eliminate some of their individual disadvantages.

It is important to have clear short and long term goals and a strategy to compete successfully in the digital world. 

Posted on Categories Google Ads