SEO vs Google Ads Which One is Better – The Ultimate Small Business Guide

seo vs google ads

If you own a business and are planning to create a marketing strategy for it, then this is the question that is going to haunt you.

Google Ads (formerly AKA AdWords) or SEO?

To make sure, the haunting business is left to the real ghosts and to help you make an informed decision suitable for your business, we are going to dive into this age-old ‘marketing debate’ one point at a time.

The goal of any business is to remain visible to their consumers so that they can capture qualified leads and upsurge sales. And to do that you have to rank in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for relevant consumer search queries. This can be very tough considering the high amount of competition nowadays. So, what should you do if you want to rank in the search engines?

Well, you have two major options Google Ads or SEO. They are both parts of the search engine realm. Google Ads is a paid ad campaign where you pay Google to display your ads on search results or on pertinent websites while getting clicks/ visits from it or other partner websites and Apps. Whereas, SEO is a method of optimizing your website so that it ranks on the first page of search engines organically without any payment involved and thus getting free traffic to your website.

It is a tough decision and requires careful consideration depending on your business model, budget and end-goals. Planning a marketing strategy is a vital step and it can make or break your business so you have to know the outcomes beforehand while making this choice. You can either adopt one of them or utilize both as part of your business’s marketing strategy.

So, lets pit these two strategies against each other, weigh their pros and cons individually and help you solve this eternal dilemma once and for all.

Let’s begin!

What is SEO?

SEO or search engine optimization is the practice of optimizing your webpages and contents so that they rank high on the organic results of major search engines like Google.

Search engines are like big digital libraries which index web pages instead of books. They have crawlers that hop from page to page and index them. And when a searcher looks for something based on a particular keyword, the search engine looks through its indexed pages to come up with the results best suited to the searcher’s query.

SEO is a long term set of processes that you have to implement on your contents which make them look irresistible to the search engine algorithms so that they put yours on the very first page of the search results.

SEO allows your website to rank and get long-term organic traffic without costing you a single penny.

However remember, “SEO is free” is a myth.  When you will eventually get free traffic from Google and other search engines, SEO requires a recurring cost to develop powerful and persuasive contents, stunning graphics, exciting videos, authoritative backlinks, and several other assets for your brand.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is Google’s advertising platform where you campaign your business ads and Google positions them at strategic locations on search result pages. This is paid marketing and works on PPC (Pay Per Click) model where you pay every time a visitor clicks on your ad link shown by Google.

The Google search network ads show your paid ads to users searching for the keywords on Google that you have targeted. Say, if you own a bakery and targeted a few good keywords relevant to that, so when someone searches for “Bakeries in X-location”, Google will show your ad on its search result pages (based on your bidding amount and landing page’s quality score).

Besides, you can pick Google Ads display network marketing or video ads to multiply paid business leads from multiple online outlets.

For start-up businesses, Google Ads can provide exposure and qualified sales leads before they can boost their sites’ reputation and domain authority to get organic rankings.

Now that we know what SEO and Google Ads are, let’s break them down further for the ultimate battle.

Benefits of Using SEO

Organic traffic is always preferable to paid traffic from any business owner’s perspective. Users trust those businesses that have enough calibers to get good organic rankings in search results without paying their pay into it. SEO is the gateway to make your website and content rank in organic searches.

Let’s list all the advantages of SEO

  • SEO gets quality traffic – As an inbound marketing strategy, SEO helps your content to rank based on its relevance, quality, and ability to provide useful information or answer to users’ queries. Thus, you will be much more effective to reach your target audience who are actively searching for information related to your niche. This will help convince your customers to trust your brand and make a purchase along the way.
  • Builds brand awareness – SEO will help cultivate your brand awareness. When your business site appears on the first 1st-4th position of Google, consumers are more likely to know and trust your brand compared to a company with significantly less organic search visibility. So, if you want better brand awareness then you must invest in SEO and start ranking for the keywords related to your business and niche.
  • More clicks than PPC – Although most of the time paid results are placed over the organic results, still, studies showed that 71.3 percent searches result in a click on organic results. Google’s algorithms are super intelligent and they know what are the best results for you based on your searched keyword. In this scenario, consumers trust Google to give them precisely what they want and interestingly the majority of searchers believe that organic results are far superior in quality than that of the paid ads.
  • SEO helps PR – Earning links from relevant and reputed sites is the key strategy for SEO. The more high authority links you can acquire from relevant websites, the more traffic you will earn and thus more leads and conversions. For this, you have to consistently look for reputed publications and influencers who will actively or passively promote your business and its resources. Continually doing this for a long time will help you build powerful on-site and off-site assets which will get you free traffic and business leads forever.
  • It’s FREE – Do I need to say anything more. Most small businesses have very less marketing budget and it is not possible for them to be part of a long-time paid program like PPC. With the help of search engine optimization, they can achieve brand awareness, visitors to their sites, and sales conversions investing much less than the paid ad campaigns.

Benefits of using Google Ads

If you have the budget for it and especially if you are a location-based business or an e-commerce owner, Google Ads will work wonders for you. Let’s delve a little bit deeper and list the benefits of Google Ads.

  • Instant Impact – Google Ads works a lot faster to bring traffic to your business than SEO. Unlike SEO which is a long-running process, a well-bid Google Ads campaign along with an optimized landing page will position you in the coveted first spot in the search results immediately, and thus confirming more sales from the beginning.
  • Better Conversion – The consumers who click on paid ads are the ones who have already made up their minds regarding their purchase. So generally the number of conversions is higher and the bounce rate is much lower than SEO in case of Google Ads.
  • Is measurable – You can use Google Ads management tools to analyze and determine which keywords are bringing more visitors, which are converting mostly to the sales, the cost per click (CPC) of the keywords, the return on investment (ROI), and many other key metrics. It will help give you a better hold on which keywords to use for increased sales going forward.

Drawbacks of SEO

  • Takes longer to get results – SEO takes a considerably long time to show results for your efforts. If you want a quick outcome, then SEO may not be the best marketing strategy for you.
  • A long wait for ROI – After a whole lot of time that you have dedicated to SEO, you have to wait a long time to get ROI (Return on Investment). This may not be ideal for businesses who want to make an immediate impact especially for companies with the requirement of generating income in a relatively short time which will then fuel their next operations.
  • No guarantee of success – Google introduces and changes their new and existing search algorithms frequently and at times those create a lot of challenges and turmoil for businesses. A few slipups and violations of search guidelines can nosedive your site’s ranking causing severe damage to the business. Therefore, either you develop your SEO skills, or build an in-house expert SEO team which is ultimately not free.

Drawbacks of Google Ads

  • Competitive keywords – Google Ads is a paid campaign platform where the CPC of the keywords you are bidding for can be driven higher by competitive businesses interested in the same keywords. So, the more the number of competitor businesses interested in paying more money for a keyword, the more you have to bid to outrank them. Hence, it’s a major challenge for small businesses.
  • Consumers trust organic results more – PPC will let you bring your content in front of more consumers faster than SEO but it does not mean much when consumers don’t click on them. Consumers lean more towards organically ranked search results because they trust them more. So, PPC can help you become visible and getting traffic but not as much as SEO.
  • Paid marketing – You have to continue paying money for using this strategy. If you fail to rightly target keywords and customer demographics or couldn’t optimize the landing page, you will surely end up losing a lot of money due to a very poor conversion rate. On the other hand, the time you retrench the PPC budget or stop it, paid traffic will dry up immediately leaving your website unreachable and unknown to your target customers.
  • Google Ads listings not easy to tame – Google Ads is an extensive and vast tool that takes quite a long time to get familiar with the platform. Knowing the proper ins and outs of it is a must before you can use the tool. Else if you mismanage your account, you will certainly lose your hard-earned money without getting the desired results. This means, either you learn the Google Ads platform or appoint an in-house or ad-hoc team which is an additional overhead cost for you.

Using Google Ads & SEO together

After going through all the pros and cons of both Google Ads and SEO, we can conclude a few vital things.

  • If you are a new business, then Google Ads is better than SEO for immediate impact and lead generation.
  • If you want long-term impact on the digital market then SEO is the way to go.
  • If your business requires instant revenue then go for Google Ads.
  • If you want to promote your business by building assets, brand awareness, and credibility, then adopting SEO should do the trick.
  • Finally, if you are a location-based business and have the budget for paid marketing, Google Ads is the best choice. Whereas if your business is mostly internet-based, then SEO will help you gain more consumer trust, build authority, and ultimately drive free traffic.

Now that we know what is what, it will lead to the next question popping up in your head,

Why not use both SEO and Google Ads, and team them up together?

Can it be done? Yes!

A well-thought-out marketing strategy for any business should make use of both Google Ads and SEO. It is like having the best of both worlds – more leads, more conversion rate, more traffic, brand awareness, and a whole lot more.

So, if you are a new business then you should probably start with Google Ads, let people know that you are here and ready for business. Simultaneously start using SEO for your content so that you can appeal to your consumers through your organic search rankings as well.

Later on, based on the progress metrics, you will know which one is working better for you. Accordingly, you can tweak your marketing strategy and decide whether to lean towards Google Ads more or towards SEO.

To conclude, Google Ads and SEO are not mutually exclusive. They are both powerful internet marketing tools in your marketing arsenal and you need both for the best results. Use Google Ads for fast impact and use SEO for steady growth and a long-term, sustainable online business.

An advanced All-in-One Digital Marketing Course.

Mentored by Mr. Soumya Roy, the Founder, CEO of PromozSEO Web Marketing Academy.

digital marketing careerCHECK OUT NOW !!

Follow me on