Google Ads Vs SEO (Which is Better For Your Business)

As a digital marketing firm, one of the most common questions that we get asked from business owners is whether it’s better to run Google Ads or SEO for their business. Although a simple and quick question, the answer is far more complex.

There is no simple ‘this’ or ‘that’ answer.

However, there are a lot of external factors that influence the type of marketing that will work best for your business.

Factors such as your budget, time frames, current revenue, product and service pricing, industry types, you current online presence and even competitors have a big impact on your marketing strategy. 

It’s important to do your research, understand the difference in PPC and SEM marketing and understand where your business sits to ensure you choose an avenue that results in the most ROI for your business. To give you a more clear understanding, here are the core differences between SEO and Google Ads and a few things to consider before deciding which one is right for your business.

google analytics

What is SEO?

Seo, or search engine optimisation, is the process of getting your website to rank in major search engines (such as Google, Bing and Yahoo) for select keywords through a variety of both on-site and off-site optimisations.

For instance, if you owned a pet grooming salon in Bulimba, the goal of local brisbane SEO would be to get your website to show at the top of Google search when people search for key phrases such as ‘pet salon’ or ‘dog groomer’ within your area. 

SEO is an incredibly important aspect of marketing your business and one of the highest converting ways of bringing in new customers.

By targeting the right keywords, you ensure that your website is showing to the right people at the right time; people who are ready to buy and already actively seeking your products or services in your target location. On average, organic website visits result in higher conversion rates as people have more trust in a website that ranks on its own and are therefore more willing to make a purchase.

organic search

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads is a form of PPC (pay per click) advertising that displays an ad in Google which is triggered by a keyword search in Google. Much like SEO, Google Ads work in a similar way; when someone submits a Google search containing your targeted keywords in your target location, your website will display in the search results, however as a paid ad rather than an organic listing.

Unlike an organic listing, Google charges you every time someone clicks your advertisement. Although this can be an initial turn off for some, it’s important to remember that although you pay with every click, the top three ad positions in Google receive around 60% of all clicks, meaning there is a lot of business to be made through PPC advertising. By setting your own max CPC (the highest amount you are willing to pay Google every time someone clicks on your ad), your locations, keywords and even demographic targeting, you control the overall cost of your Google Ads campaign. For example, if you were to run Google Ads in Brisbane for your pet grooming business in Bulimba, you would create custom ads set up to trigger when people search for terms such as ‘pet grooming’ or ‘dog grooming’ within a 5km radius of Bulimba. 

google ads

Great, I understand SEO & Google Ads now, but how do I know which one is right for me?

1. What condition is your website in?

The first step of embarking on your digital marketing journey is to take an honest, hard look at your website. Do you even have one? What condition is it in? Is it easy to navigate? What’s the load speed? Does it accurately display your products or services? Can people easily contact you? Will people bounce straight off the website? This may sound like overkill, but the state of your current website or landing page will play a big role in choosing between PPC and SEO marketing. 

For instance, if you’re running Google ads for an online shoe business and you don’t currently have a way for customers to make a quick purchase online or don’t have a way for customers to navigate and isolate shoe categories, the chances are they will bounce off without enquiring therefore wasting your time and money spent on that click. Would you stay on a website if your were looking for sneakers and had to scroll through pages of heels and sandals to try to find what you’re looking for? Probably not. Would you stay on the website if there was a clear section titled ‘sneakers’ followed by a quick and easy online checkout? Yes you would. 

Small changes like this, your reviews, placement of call buttons, online checkout or enquiry process or even the quality of your photos can have a huge impact on your marketing results so it’s critical to make sure your website is in prime condition and ready for any form of digital marketing. If you’re not sure on what to look out for when assessing your website, contact a digital marketing firm that offers free strategy sessions or assessments. 

2. What if I don’t have or want website?

One of the best things about Google Ads is the ability to create a custom and optimised landing page for your ads, meaning it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an existing website or a page that solely focuses on the particular products/services that you want to promote. This is a fantastic solution for small businesses that use Facebook as their main website and don’t want to commit to or lay down the funds to create an entire new website in order to trial digital marketing for the first time. 

By creating a stand-alone landing page, you not only get around the issue of not having a website, but you can 100% tailor it to the specific product or service you are promoting, optimise it for your core keywords and streamline it for conversions with lots of call to actions and contact methods. This not only increases your conversion rate and the potential for more business, but can increase your overall Google Ads quality score which can bring down your the cost of your clicks, overall Google Ad costs and stretch your budget further.

Google Ads Landing Page

3. What if my website is not up to scratch or still being built?

If you don’t have a website or your website needs some big changes, you can still start marketing your products and services. Our recommendation for businesses in this position is to find an agency that can make these web changes, or build a new website for you to ensure your website is built to a high standard, is multi-device friendly, built in a platform favoured by Google with appropriate call to actions and layouts. Basically, you want your website to be ready for SEO the second it goes live.

If you think all you can do is wait during this building process, that’s where you’re mistaken. You can start running Google Ads with a custom landing page (like mentioned above) while you wait for your website to be finished and then start SEO the second your new site is ready or goes live. This is a great way of offsetting the costs of web design and development as you are bringing in leads throughout the entire build process through your landing page rather than waiting around for the completion of your new website.

website under construction

4. How quickly do you want results?

Depending on how quickly you want or need results will play a big part in your decision to go with SEO or Google Ads. Do you need more business right now or do you have time to gradually grow and bring in more business down the line? If your website is not indexed by Google or sits three pages or more back in Google search, it takes on average three months to establish solid, high positioned first page organic rankings. This may seem like a long time, but SEO is a long term marketing solution and you will continue to reap the benefits of a high positioned organic web listing for months to come. 

For those who need quick results now, it may be more beneficial to lean more towards Google ads. A good digital marketing agency can have a solid Google Ads campaign set up and running in a day. The second that campaign goes live people can begin clicking on your ad and enquiring, meaning you can generate more business within a matter of days of making the decision to run Google Ads for your business.

Saying all this, it doesn’t mean you should throw SEO off the table. Our biggest recommendation for businesses in this position is to run with Google Ads for a month or two, and then when revenue is higher push some of that budget towards SEO. By running SEO and Google Ads simultaneously, you can capitalize on both and bring in leads from a top positioned ad and a top position organic listing. We find a lot of people under the assumption that if you run both Google Ads and an SEO campaign for your business, people will only click either the organic or paid listing but not both, which is incorrect. If you stop running your Google Ad, people won’t suddenly start clicking on your organic listing instead, they’ll click on whatever ad takes your place. By running SEO and Google Ads side by side, you double your lead potential which is definitely a smart marketing move.

Google Ads Results

5. Do your price points outweigh the cost of marketing?

The price of your products or the services you offer will play a big role in deciding whether you go down the Google Ads or SEO route. Google Ads cost per click can be expensive so you have to offer a product that will make up for the costs. For example, if you are selling $5 bracelets and it costs you $4 every time someone clicks your ad and only 1 in every 10 clicks makes a sale, it would cost you $40  to make a $5 sale which is not profitable at all. However, if you ran an air conditioning business and sold ducted air conditioning installations valued at $10,000 and it cost roughly $8 a click and 1 in every 10 people converted, it would cost you $80 to make a $10,000 sale which is definitely worth the costs.  

The price of your products or services will also play a big role in deciding whether to go down the SEO or Google Ads (or both) route. When running Google Ads, the cost per click will change depending on the industry and levels of competition in your area so it’s vital to ensure that the prices of your products/services can outweigh the cost of marketing and bring in a profit (after all, what’s the point of running a digital marketing campaign if at the end of the day you can’t make back the cost of your marketing). 

For example, let’s say you were considering a Google Ads campaign for you homemade beaded bracelet business. If you sold each bracelet for $5, it cost you $2 everyone clicks on your ad and one in every ten people clicking your ad made a purchase, it would cost you $20 to make one $5 sale which wouldn’t be profitable. On the other hand, if you ran an air conditioning business that sold and installed air conditioning systems valued at $6000, it cost you $8 per click and one in every ten people signed up, it would cost you $80 to make a $6000 sale which is definitely profitable!

planning Google Ads
(Image sourced from

Final Overview

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO, Google Ads and choosing the right digital marketing strategy for your business. With so many forms of digital marketing out there it’s important to do your research, make sure you understand what you’re getting into and most importantly, make sure you have the right person on the job. If you’re going to invest time and money into growing your business, make sure it is in the hands of someone who knows exactly what they are doing, someone who has the right marketing tools to make an impact and someone you trust with your business. You want to make sure your digital campaigns drive real ROI and don’t just cover the cost of marketing, but helps your business scale and grow at a rate you’ve never seen before.