A question we are often asked is, “should I use SEO or Google Ads to get traffic to my website?”
It is a very good question, but unfortunately not an easy answer… as there are pros and cons for each approach.
The video below outlines these considerations in more details, and a written summary of the three main factors to help decide between SEO or Google Ads and our recommendation is listed.
Deciding between SEO or Google Ads? Consider these factors:
How quickly do you want to get results?
Depending on how competitive your space is, and how new you are to it, improving search engine rankings can take anywhere from days to years.
With Google Ads, on the other hand, providing you have a suitable budget to bid on your keywords and your ads are approved by meeting editorial guidelines and are effective, you can gain visibility in search results within hours.
How much do you have to spend on initial set up/training, as well as ongoing costs?
If you are managing your own Google Ads you may also invest in Google Ads training to set up your campaigns, or again outsource them for set up and possibly ongoing management.
Either way, Google Ads will need an ongoing advertising budget to ensure your ads continue to appear in search results, and this budget will depend on your keywords and the geographic location you are targeting to ensure you are getting visibility in the paid search results.
While many internet users are accustomed to search engine advertising (Google Ads), it doesn’t necessarily suit all organisations, and organic results are still seen by some as more “trustworthy”.
So consider your audience; would they expect to see your organisation/products/services in paid search ads? How would they respond?
Make sure you know who your target audience is, and consider their reaction to seeing you in this context.
SEO or Google Ads – Pros and Cons
Search engine optimisation:
Can garner long-term visibility in search results
If implementing SEO best practices yourself, there may be no ongoing optimisation costs
Organic search results can be seen as more trustworthy
Organic search results cannot be guaranteed
Improvement can take time in competitive spaces, or for new websites
Strong visibility can be achieved in search results very quickly
Search ads can be targeted and edited very easily, giving you control over your messages
An ongoing ads budget is definitely required, ongoing management fee may also be required
Some browsers may not respond well to paid search ads and may prefer organic results (in some instances)
SEO or Google Ads – how to decide between them
With either approach, we recommend first undertaking some keyword research, to understand what keywords people are using to find your organisation/product/services.
Keywords are fundamental to both search engine optimisation and Google Ads, so knowing the terms people are using along with:
average monthly search volume
estimated cost per click
will help you understand:
which keywords to focus on
how easy or difficult it may be to rank organically
how much your target keywords are likely to cost in Google Ads (Cost Per Click)
You can use tools such as kwfinder.com to gather all of this information, as well as tools to understand how your website is already ranking for particular keywords, such as:
And use Google Analytics to monitor the quality of traffic to your website, ensuring they are the right kind of visitors – whether from organic search or Google Ads – based on how engaged they are with your website.
Focus on SEO for long-term search results, use Google Ads for quick wins and competitive keywords…
In summary, we will always recommend using SEO best practices across your website and content to achieve long-term search results. Even though it can take time, the long-term benefits are hugely beneficial.
However, Google Ads are an incredibly useful method of achieving quick, targeted results, especially when there is a clear commercial outcome.
Erica is a Google Analytics and Google Ads certified professional, so you’re in qualified hands.
Erica has had over a decade of experience – working for agencies and a wide range of clients – in digital and social media marketing strategy, website development, search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing (SEM), content marketing, inbound marketing, online advertising and so much more.
A professional in the field of design, branding and marketing, she is a trusted name in the South Australian and online community to help an array of businesses sort out and achieve their marketing objectives.