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SEO vs Google Ads – what’s best for your business

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Article Overview

Confused about where you should spend your marketing dollar on Adwords or SEO? Get some useful tips here and learn the difference between the two. Both are great marketing channels but each has its own pros and cons. If you are about to embark on an SEO and PPC campaign you must be aware of these before you start throwing away your money.

SEO vs Google Ads – what should you do? A tough question. Do you want instant results and go for the Adwords option, or are you prepared to stick it out for the long haul and go down the SEO path?

Either way, the following explanation will help you understand your options and guide you down the often confusing path of internet marketing.

You first have to ask yourself what is going to drive more leads, and revenue and offer a higher return on investment. Finding the balance between all your online marketing options is the key to online success. Putting all your eggs in one basket can be very expensive and yield little returns.

Also Read: SEO vs PPC: Pros, Cons, & Everything In Between

For this reason, whether you go SEO or Adwords will depend on the type of business you have and the kind of returns you want to get.

Adwords and SEO are both different beasts with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Most businesses will, however, find that a combination of both is their preferred online strategy. To fully understand what your options are, I will outline the pros and cons of each. After reading this, if you have any questions or are still uncertain about what’s best for your business, give me a shout, and I’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Google Ads: tell me more

These are the top and bottom 4 ads that appear on Google’s search results and other Google sites. Adwords is Google’s primary business and offers businesses an opportunity to display their business offering very quickly. If you set up your Google Adwords campaign, your ads can be live within a couple of hours. And, if you make any changes to these ads, they are in real-time.

These Google ads are pay-per-click, so when someone clicks on your ad, you have to pay. To get your advert to the top of the search results page, you have to outbid the person on top of you. It’s like an auction system where the highest bidder gets their ad to the top position.

You have total control over how much you want to spend per click, your daily budget, your targeted geographic location, the keywords you want to and do not want to appear and the times to display your ad. There’s an easy-to-understand console panel that you can sign into and watch in real-time you well your ads are performing, how many impressions and clicks they are getting and most importantly; the cost. Hubspot details what AdWords are like in 2020.

How does Adwords Compare with SEO?

SEO or search engine optimisation is the lengthy process of getting your website to appear on Google’s search results organically. It’s all the content on the page under Google Adwords. The idea behind SEO is to be visible online for many keyword searches. The aim is to increase your online visibility for your business’s niche.

The main difference between SEO and Adwords is the time involved. While Adwords is more or less instant, SEO is a long-term strategy that is ongoing and can take many many months. SEO is an ongoing process where you are continually improving the performance of your website, through content marketing, link building and a host of ‘on-page’ optimisation techniques.

A significant difference between SEO and Adwords is the click-through rate. Websites that appear organically through SEO have built up a certain level of trust as Google will only display trustworthy sites as opposed to Adwords, which allows anyone.

SEO vs Google Ads: the main differences

> Having your website optimised for SEO means that you can appear on other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo. While not such a massive concern for many people, these sites do occasionally bring in customers.

> Adwords is for the short term. You may have an exclusive product or launch or even a sale that you want o to promote quickly. Adwords are a great medium for this. You can be marketing your product within hours to millions of people – great if you have an eCommerce site. SEO, on the other hand, takes time, planning and strategy. If you are planning to launch a new product or service in 3 to 6 months, then you can start an SEO campaign now.

The key takeaway here is timings. Adwords is immediate while SEO is for the medium to long term.

> Adwords can get very expensive. I have a client who was spending around $20,000 per month on Adwords for a competitive niche. Once we started the SEO campaign, he could see his online visibility improve for a whole bunch of keywords which meant he could begin to reduce his Adwords spending. Like this client, it would be best if you started with an Adwords campaign to get the business in and cut this spending over time as your SEO kicks in. Wordstream in their article How Much Does Google Ads Cost in 2022 puts it nicely when they say: The biggest influence on Google Ads pricing is industry. For example, the business services vertical (legal, accounting, real estate, etc.) is one of the more competitive verticals in Google Ads, which generally translates to higher costs per click (CPC). This is due to the nature of the professional services industry: one new client could yield upwards of $1,000 – $10,000 depending on your business, so a CPC of $50 is a small price to pay for that client. This might be a bitter pill to swallow for businesses in this niche but it’s all about ROI and how much you will spend for one converted lead. In an industry where there are lots of tyre kickers and price shopping you’ll chew up your Adwords budget quickly but this may be worth it to get that one high-paying customer. Heartbreaking I know to watch you throw away lots of money but you have to be patient and go through the process of weeding out the price shoppers and time wasters to get to the best ready-to-buy customers.

> If you stop, you’re Adwords, that’s it. You will stop getting calls and inquiries. If you ignore SEO and only focus on SEO, then you’ll be committed to Adwords indefinitely. Unless you have a huge marketing budget and deep pockets, then this is unsustainable. Eventually, you’ll have to start considering SEO.

> SEO delivers a much better ROI. The issue with Adwords is that browsers will click on your ad and may not buy. They might be getting prices, doing their research, and when they are ready to buy, they will click on the organic trusted results. Each click costs you money eroding your daily budget and leaving you with no online presence.

> Adwords are immediate. Any change you make to your Ad will render on Google within minutes. SEO can take weeks for changes to happen. For some business owners, this can be frustrating as they want immediate results.

> Adwords has a very nifty console so you can work out your ROI very quickly while with SEO, many variables come into play.

What should I go with: Google AdWords vs SEO?

Both SEO and Adwords are great for your business. Key variables such as budgets, time frames, expectations, business goals, and the economic position of your company will affect which direction you want to go in. If you have a large budget and you want quick results, then Adwords is the best option. But, for long-lasting online visibility, SEO is the better choice.

In 2022 and 2023, we see customers become a lot savvier about Google’s search results and can easily see the difference between paid and organic search. Organic results are more trusted and have a higher click-through rate. You don’t want users to put off clicking on your website because they perceive it as a paid ad.

Also read: 10 SEO trends we are noticing for 2021

The perception of trust is the main reason that we are the leading advocates of SEO and trumpet the message loudly. SEO is the future of internet marketing. While Adwords is still effective, don’t get me wrong here. SEO is, by far, the better option for your business.

I believe that SEO will deliver the best results for your business. If you want to punch above your weight and compete with the big boys, then SEO is the way to go. Obviously, I’m likely to say this because we are an SEO agency but the reality doesn’t lie; organic results are much more trustworthy than paid ads and will therefore get more loyal clients who are ready to buy.

If you’d like to learn more about how SEO can boost organic traffic to your business, get in touch with me; Steven, your expert SEO consultant.

steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 18 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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