As you build out your paid traffic strategy, it’s important to have a variety of options from which to draw.

Depending on your resources and the stage of business, you may find yourself leaning toward one source over another. In the end, it comes down to what you’re comfortable with and your experience level.

The most important part is that your advertising goal aligns with the platform you choose. As Google’s VP of display and video ads, Neal Mohan says: “A paid search ad isn’t just an adโ€”it should be part of a holistic campaign, designed to work seamlessly with organic search, display, and everything else you’re doing.”

Today we’ll be exploring the difference between Google Ads and SEO.ย SEO is an ongoing process that cannot be turned on and off as Google Ads can. If your goal is to generate the highest return on the shortest timeline, Google Ads may be the way to go. If, however, you are dedicated to long-term success and willing to work for it, SEO is probably your best bet.

Let’s take a look at how each approach can help with brand awareness, conversions, and revenue.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. SEO is a performance-based marketing tactic designed to generate organic traffic through your website and build brand awareness. It involves optimizing titles on pages and posts on your blog, as well as building long-tail content on those pages for use in both natural (read: unpaid) search results and on Google Ads campaigns.

What Do You Need for SEO?

Well-Written Content: Content is king when it comes to SEO. You’ll need copy that is not only optimized for search engines but also capable of bringing in targeted traffic who are ready to engage with your brand.

  • Advanced On-Page Optimization: A strategic approach to titles and meta descriptions is an indispensable part of any SEO campaign.
  • Links: You want to ensure your site has an appropriate number of links pointing back towards it from other relevant websites, which you can get through link building services provided by trusted SEO companies.
  • Analyze Your Competition: Before embarking on an SEO campaign, research your competition and always be looking for opportunities to outrank them.
  • Perform In-Depth Keyword Research: Like creating your content, keyword research is an ongoing process. Understanding search intent and tailoring your copy accordingly will help you establish a stronger organic presence. For example, if your business model is to connect people online, the ideal keywords for you to expand on would be like “meet people online”, or “find a sugar baby“.

What Can SEO Do for You?

SEO is all about increasing the number of people who visit your site organically through “free” means. This means that while you don’t pay for a click, your cost per click is pretty high. It may take a while for someone to find your site organically through organic search, but once they’re there you have more time and opportunities to convert them into leads or customers.

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads are the paid ads found on the top and side of search results for specified search terms. They’re often called “sponsored results.” Although Google is just one of many websites that offers pay-per-click (PPC) ads, it’s the most widely used by far.

How Does Google Ads Work?

People use keywords to find information online and these keywords can be bought and optimized for ads. You choose where to place your ads and how much you’re willing to pay for each click, and Google Ads will fill in the rest.

Unlike SEO, Google Ads can be turned on and off like a light switch. If you need additional clicks today, turn it on. Tomorrow? Turn it back off and save some money. Because of this, Google Ads is a great way to make quick traffic gains.

Google Ads also offers a wider array of targeting options, including:

  • Keywords: Targeting keywords allows you to connect with a very precise audience based on words and phrases they type into Google. Unlike SEO, Google can tell you exactly how many clicks your ads are receiving from each keyword.
  • Location: Google Ads can show ads based on a user’s location. If you’re looking for leads in San Francisco, this is a great way to target only those people.
  • Interests & Remarketing: This allows you to reach very targeted audiences by showing your ads again and again to people who have already visited your site.
  • Browsing History: Google can target people who have previously visited your site, as well as those who have visited sites similar to yours. This is great for lead generation and retargeting.

Google Ads is less reliant on the amount of time spent on your site than SEO is. A user can click on an ad within seconds and be redirected to an external site. This, of course, is a major drawback in that it can be very expensive when you factor in the amount of time spent on your site once someone clicks on your ads.

Google Ads vs SEO: Which Strategy is Right for You?

There is no simple answer to the question “Which search engine marketing strategy is best?” For some companies, SEO might be the way to go while for others, Google Ads are a better solution.

Understanding how each work will help you decide which route to take based on your needs.

Google Ads vs SEO: What to Consider

If you’re going to go with Google Ads, maximizing the number of clicks you get is a must. While SEO takes time and patience, PPC can provide instantaneous results.

The downside to this is that getting a click on a paid ad doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will stay on your site or convert into a lead or customer later on.

Although Google Ads are a great way to get in front of customers in a hurry, they can also be an expensive investment if you don’t know which keywords to target. SEO may take time, but it is typically more affordable and has better long-term results since people tend to spend more time on organic search pages.

Some companies may find they need a little of both. With an SEO strategy in place, you can afford to turn on Google Ads now and then for quick bursts of traffic. You’ll still receive some long-term benefits from your SEO efforts while taking advantage of the immediate results that PPC provides.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for quick results and don’t mind spending a little cash to get them, Google Ads could be the answer.

Businesses that operate on a shoestring budget may benefit from an SEO strategy, as it can help increase the visibility without having to spend money each time someone clicks on your site.

Remember: When doing either search engine marketing, careful planning and tracking are essential to success. You’ll need detailed reports and analytics in place before you start any campaigns so that you know how much your keywords are worth and which ones will best target your market