SEO vs Google Ads Advertising What Should You Prioritise?

markerting budget

When you first begin your journey of promoting your product or service online, you will often be faced with a dilemma. This is even more evident if you have a limited budget or time.

SEO requires patience and an elegant, yet well-planned strategy. Advertising using Google Ads requires a constant flow of funds until you hit the optimal conversion threshold.

Let's first go over what you are trying to achieve and pair it with the optimal first step between SEO and Google PPC.

SEO vs Google Ads Advertising: A Comparative Analysis

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In the realm of digital marketing, two major strategies dominate – SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Google Ads advertising.

Each has its own set of merits and shortcomings. Here, we delve into a comparative study of these two, discussing essential data and statistics that underline the significance of both.

Cost and Return on Investment

The question of cost is a vital one. In 2020, global spending on SEO services reached a staggering $80 billion, whereas Google Ads spending surpassed it at $147 billion.

Undeniably, SEO generally incurs lower direct costs, as you're primarily investing in organic efforts to enhance your site's ranking on search engines. In contrast, the average cost-per-click (CPC) for Google Ads in the US falls between $1-$2.

Moreover, for every dollar spent on ads, Google generates a profit of $8, indicating a robust return on investment.

Speed and Sustainability of Results

When considering the speed and sustainability of results, there are critical distinctions between SEO and Google Ads. SEO can take several months to deliver tangible results. On the other hand, Google Ads offer almost immediate results.

However, SEO delivers more long-term, sustainable traffic. About 91% of searches on Google end without clicking on ads, highlighting the high relevance of SEO for visibility. Therefore, in terms of long-term organic growth and visibility, SEO holds the upper hand.

Click-Through and Conversion Rates

In terms of click-through and conversion rates, SEO tends to outperform Google Ads. SEO typically boasts higher click-through rates – about 20% as compared to 2% for Google Ads.

Moreover, SEO traffic averages a conversion rate of 14.6%, compared to Google Ads which converts at 12.9%. About 48% of clicks for the top five search results go to the first organic result, compared to just 8% for the top ad.

Traffic Source and Visibility

SEO delivers about 55% of website traffic on average, compared to 34% from paid search. Google processes over 63,000 searches every second, making high SEO visibility extremely valuable. However, it's crucial to note that mobile page speed plays a significant role, as 53% of users will abandon a page that takes over 3 seconds to load.

In Summary

While Google Ads can deliver immediate results, SEO provides more cost-effective and sustainable long-term traffic and leads for most businesses.

The ideal approach would likely be a combination of both SEO and Google Ads, as they complement each other well in achieving business objectives.

By understanding the unique strengths of each strategy, businesses can create a balanced digital marketing approach that optimizes visibility, conversions, and return on investment.

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What are you trying to do?

This is a very important question that you must ask yourself once again before you move ahead. Figure out who is your target audience and which traffic channel they prefer to use. Assuming that you have the necessary funds and time to achieve either target, SEO may seem like the best bet, but if your product is competitive and you need constant customer input, SEO might actually hamper your growth.

It's not that SEO isn't useful; it is incredible at what it can accomplish. However, if you are planning to launch a product or service with a competitive edge, the nature of SEO's slowness makes it difficult to make rapid changes and test out multiple vectors.

That being said, everything isn't exactly perfect when you pay Google to promote your offering. For one, you need to stay invested, and sometimes the funds may keep running for a while before you find a well-converting vector. But what these funds do buy you is the ability to rapidly test out landing pages.

SEO and When Should You Prioritise It?

SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation, is pretty much self-explanatorily. You are optimising for the search engine. There are two types, though, one of which you should always be doing regardless.

This is on-page SEO. This means optimising your page for the search engine by making the content on your page easily categorisable and understandable. It should also be quick to load and have a good user experience. Often times, doing just this much is more than enough for your pages to rank in the search engines.

The other type of SEO is off-page SEO.

This is when you promote your website on other sites by engaging with them and getting them to write about your product by linking back to your site. If you do it right and as humanly as possible, you will notice a growth in your rankings.

You may have noticed that both of these SEO types can be quite time-consuming, especially the off-page SEO. There are a lot of things to do, and you need to wait a while to see the result of any change that you make.

This can be slow, but the best part about this is that it can be completely free. There are businesses that are run solely based on Google rankings.

Unlike SEO, you need to have a budget set aside for Google Ads advertising if you wish to pursue it. In the beginning, it may seem overwhelming, but with proper A/B testing and perseverance, it is possible to have a calculated return on investment.

This is perfect if you do have funds allocated towards marketing, because you can then use this same knowledge to peruse SEO too. Paid advertising allows you to start working on UX right from the start, greatly improving the value of your offering.

When you first start off, however, things may seem difficult, and unless you are managing someone else's funds, you may start burning through them initially. But once you get the hang of it, you will realise the value it provides far outpaces any risk.


markerting budget

Its pretty simple if you have the funds always go for Google Ads first. This is because even if you are planning to do SEO you will get a lot of insight and chance to improve the UX quicker with Google ads. A better user experience means more engagement on your page and a higher retention. But if you are cash strapped then by all means start with SEO and once the offering generates enough profit you can use Ads to give it a boost.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.