SEO vs. Google Ads: Which Option is Better for Your Business?

When we started offering marketing services to clients, there were a lot of questions as to which type of marketing technique would work best for their business. The options at the time were mainly search engine advertising, organic search engine optimization, email campaigns, and social media marketing. While these mediums are at the core of almost any company we work with, one of the main areas individuals confuse is the difference between search engine optimization and search-based ads (aka Pay-Per-Click or PPC). Many need to realize the items that should be on the top and right of the results page are ads versus Google Maps, Google Business Listings, and organic search results.

These solutions may be similar (placing your product, service, or company at the top of search results), but how these things are accomplished is very different.

Whether organic SEO or Google Ads is better for your business will ultimately depend on the type of business you run and where your customers get their information. Read on to better understand the two marketing strategies and determine which best fits the build of your business. 

What is Search Engine Optimization?

The search engine produces the most relevant results matching their search queries whenever users search. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) uses practices, strategies, and techniques to enhance a website’s visibility so that the product, service, or company ranks at the top of the search results and gains organic traffic from search engines. It optimizes a website to make it more visible to prospective customers by improving its content, design, and technical configuration. It also uses something called backlinks to gain popularity. A well-optimized page will attract quality traffic leading to higher conversions and sales.

SEO offers the following benefits:

  • A long-term solution for higher Google ranking (stopping SEO does not immediately affect ranking versus advertising, which disappears as soon as the payments stop).
  • Organic traffic tends to be more credible, which leads to lower abandonment rates and higher engagement.
  • It can be a much more cost-effective form of marketing than advertising.
  • Google and other search engines love optimized sites.

Where Do Search Results Show?

Google search results can appear in various places, depending on the type of search query and the user’s intent. Some examples of where Google search results can show up include:

  • Google My Business: Now called Google Business, is a free business listing service. When a user searches for a local business, a Google My Business listing may appear in the search results, which includes information such as the business’s address, phone number, hours of operation, and customer reviews.
  • Google Maps: Google Maps is a mapping service that allows users to search for locations and get directions. When a user searches for a location or a specific address, a Google Maps result may appear in the search results, which includes a map of the area and information such as reviews and photos.
  • SERP listings: SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. A SERP displaying related websites will appear in response to a search query. These websites are displayed according to their relevance to the query.
  • Images: When a user searches for an image, Google may show a carousel of relevant images to the query. These images are pulled from websites across the internet and are displayed in the search results.
  • Videos: If a user searches for a video, Google may show a list of relevant videos to the query. These videos are pulled from websites like YouTube and displayed in search results.
  • News: If a user searches for information about a particular topic, Google may show a list of news articles that are relevant to the query. These articles are pulled from news websites across the internet and are displayed in the search results.
  • Shopping: If a user searches for a product, Google may show a list of shopping results relevant to the query. These results can include products from online retailers such as Amazon and are displayed in the search results.
  • Knowledge Graph: A knowledge graph is a set of information that Google has compiled about a specific topic, such as a person, place, or thing. When a user searches for a knowledge graph, a box containing information about the topic may appear in the search results.

These different types of search results cater to user intent and provide various options for users to find what they’re looking for. SEO strategies can target these search results to increase the website’s visibility and drive more traffic. It’s important to understand the different types of search results and where they appear to optimize a website for search engines effectively.

A Few Website Optimization Tips for SEO Best Practices

Well over 200 ranking factors influence if your website will be ranked. No one really knows how many there are and which are most influential, but most search experts agree on the following elements to be a must-have:

Keyword Selection: Google will rank your page according to the keywords you select, so it’s essential to use relevant keywords that relate to your page’s topic and uses the language of your users/customers. Using these keywords in your content, domain, and metadata strategically is key.

Content Quality: Google is more inclined to rank your website higher if it contains useful, high-quality content. Long-form, value-rich content is essential to maintain engaged visitors, positively impacting your search engine rankings.

Site Security: The security of users’ data is a top priority for Google. As such, encrypting your site’s data with an SSL certificate is essential.

Great User Experience: A great user experience on your website makes visitors stay longer and complete more actions. This can be in the form of better design, an obvious call to action, clean navigation, and, most importantly, site loading speed.

Mobile compatibility: Also called responsive design, mobile sites are an essential element of web design today. Since Google now indexes sites based on mobile-friendly criteria, a mobile-friendly version of your site is paramount to ranking well in search.

It can take 3 to 6 months to see real progress, but your results are long-lasting, so patience is often needed. Although many fly-by-night SEO firms offer to do your SEO for $50, they will not work with you to address the above factors. They offer backlinking services that “can” add to your site’s credibility but it is also possible to suffer damage from them. 

Hire a reputable SEO company, optimize your site first, and start marketing. Our team, for example, can do an extensive audit (at no charge) to give you an idea of where to prioritize your time.

What are Google Ads, and How Do They Differ from SEO?

Click for the graphic comparing SEO to Googe Ads
Click for the infographic comparing SEO to Googe Ads

Advertising on Google is another way businesses can get their message across on Google’s search platform. With the pay-per-click (PPC) method, brands can showcase their ads in search results by bidding on specific keywords. Using Google Ads, the brand only incurs costs when someone clicks on the ad to visit their website or contact their business. Additionally, the brand can modify the settings of the ads at any time to guarantee that their desired audience is reached.

It’s an ideal marketing strategy for businesses that seek to drive traffic quickly. If your budget allows, Google PPC Ads will drive initial traffic to
your site and boost brand awareness. We also recommend it as an effective technique while waiting for your SEO efforts to pay off. Google Ads appear
in various forms.

Search ads: These appear at the top before organic listings. They are tagged as ‘ad’ to differentiate them from organic search results.

Shopping Ads: These appear at the top of search engine pages with images of products, prices, and discounts presented in a carousel format for an in-depth look into different products from various online stores.

Local Services Ads: These are similar to shopping ads but instead provide a list of potential businesses, accompanied by relevant information like their address and opening hours.

The benefits of investing in Google Ads are;

  • Quicker Results: PPC ads can begin generating traffic to a website almost immediately, while SEO can take weeks or even months to show results.
  • Targeted Advertising: PPC allows brands to target specific keywords, demographics, and geographic locations, which can result in more qualified leads.
  • Measurable Results: PPC campaigns can be easily tracked and measured, making it easier for brands to determine the ROI of their advertising efforts.
  • Cost Control: With PPC, brands only pay when someone clicks on their ad, giving them more control over their advertising budget.
  • Brand Visibility: PPC can help increase brand visibility and awareness by placing ads at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs)
  • Competitive Advantage: PPC can provide an edge over competitors who are not using PPC or not using it as effectively.

However, it’s important to note that SEO and PPC are not mutually exclusive and can be used to achieve better results.

Which Option to Choose

Choosing SEO or PPC will ultimately depend on your company goals, desired reach, and available budget and time. SEO is a long-term strategy that aims to improve a website’s organic search rankings, while PPC is a short-term strategy that involves paying for ad space on search engines.

When SEO should be considered better than PPCWhen PPC should be considered better than PPC
  • The goal is to increase brand awareness and establish credibility.
  • The budget is limited and cannot sustain the cost of a PPC campaign.
  • When targeting a specific audience or geographic location.
  • The website has high-quality content that can earn organic links.
  • The goal is to generate leads over the long term.
  • The goal is to generate immediate sales or leads.
  • The website is new and hasn’t yet established a strong organic search presence.
  • Targeting a specific product or service.
  • When there is a specific event or promotion requiring immediate attention.

Given all this, the best way to maximize your brand’s online potential is to employ both strategies simultaneously, as they complement one another. Integrating SEO elevates your organic search rankings and improves your website overall. Additionally, leveraging Google Ads will help your business earn traffic quicker and allow you to customize your campaign.

Investing in the growth of your business requires careful consideration. That said, it’s crucial to partner with a knowledgeable partner that can handle your digital marketing needs. For 10 years, MarketBurst has initiated the right tools, expertise, and experience to build a comprehensive, well-rounded digital marketing strategy with which your business can grow. 

We invite you to contact us today to speak to our experts and let us work together to carve a path to your digital success.

Whether across the office or across the ocean, MarketBurst is the leader in outsourced marketing solutions worldwide. Contact us today.