If you are into website design and digital marketing, you must have heard about the debate between Google Ads and SEO. Which method can improve the traffic and revenue on your website for the better? Some say it is Google Ads; some say it is SEO. So, I decided to write a comparison article on the same.
The world is rapidly going digital and so should your business. Traditional practices are only going to decline further and further. Having a website for your business has become the new normal in 2021. However, that is just one part of growing your business. You would want your customers or target audience to know about your website. How else are you going to make money out of it, right? This is where practices like Google Ads (Digital Marketing) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. These practices will help you in making your website more visible. Getting more traffic means you have a higher chance of selling your services or products and making money.
Let’s understand each of these practices individually and compare them.
Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is a Google advertising platform. Every person who is into digital marketing knows how important and effective Google Ads is. Google is the #1 Search Engine worldwide and hence, advertisements on Google’s platform will obviously have the maximum exposure. This is what makes Google Ads a favorable option for almost all of us.
But hey, that’s not all! Google Ads is also popular for its functionality and cost-effectiveness. With their Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions (CPM) methods, you can target and generate leads on your website within a reasonable budget. In CPC (also known as PPC) method, you pay Google a certain amount of money each time someone clicks on your advertisement anywhere on the internet. In CPM, you pay each time your advertisement makes a thousand impressions.
Google Ads have a variety of ad campaigns to choose from. You can customize them depending on the budget you have. Furthermore, they all revolve around a variety of metrics and dimensions to define your target audiences. You can set your goal through these campaigns and choose the bidding (payment) method accordingly.
If you are planning to launch an ad campaign on Google Ads, you should know about different types of Google Ads campaigns, how to determine a bidding strategy, and the bidding competition. Please remember that Google Ads judge your advertisement on the relevancy of the content and the user experience it provides. So, don’t expect your ad to do well if you only focus on paying the maximum bidding amount. Make sure your ad is high quality and provides good user satisfaction. You can find more about this in the Google links given above.
Search Engine Optimization or simply SEO is the mathematics of your website that can make or break your website’s visibility. It is a set of practices that are followed to increase the viability on the search engine results page (SERP). For example, if I own a web design business, then it is obvious that I would want my website to be on the first result if someone searches for web design in Cape Town, right? This is what good SEO practices do. They will help you to achieve that sweet, rank 1 spot on the search engine results for a certain keyword.
SEO majorly revolves around keywords. Keyword research is one of the most important factors in building up your SEO strategy effectively. For example, if you are a small website design business in Cape Town, South Africa, you would first check for the keywords people in Cape Town use to search for website design businesses. For South Africa, ‘seo cape town’ keyword generates the highest volume, and hence your SEO strategy will also focus around that. To understand the best SEO practices, you should understand Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
The most beautiful thing about SEO is that it is free. If your strategy works, you will not have to pay a single cent to get traffic on your website. However, there is a catch. SEO has a variety of aspects that must work together in harmony to make it effective. It takes a long time before you would see acceptable results with your SEO strategy. You can get everything done right with your strategy, but it still takes time. This requires patience, consistency, and knowledge to consistently make it right. But when it works, you understand that it was all worth it. SEO can bring you some quality traffic with high conversion rates.
If you wish to understand more about SEO, I highly recommend you look at this guide by Search Engine Journal.
Now that we have understood each term at its basic, let us dive into the comparisons and determine which is the best strategy for your website!
Let’s compare them based on effective duration, costing, and level of difficulty.
Effective duration is where I will compare how long does it take a strategy to be effective, and how long does it last. Google Ads is basically paid promotion. When you create a campaign, define a goal, and boost your products and services, Google Ads is going to keep its promise if you pay for it. Your ad is going to be shown to a ‘predefined number of people’ on the internet. This number depends on the flexibility of your budget and the type of campaign you are running. If your ad campaign is strategically created, targeting the right audience and all, then you will keep getting traffic on your website. However, when an ad campaign ends, the traffic will stop.
On the other hand, you are barely going to get any traffic initially just with a good SEO strategy. Suppose your website is one week old, and you have been following the best SEO practices. Chances are, you are not going to get any traffic at all at this point. Why? Because it might not be indexed with Google at all. Google says that it takes about 4 days to 4 weeks to get your site indexed; that it relies on many factors. SEO takes time. It can take a few months up to a year to see some fruitful effects out of your SEO strategy. And when it works, you are going to get the traffic for years to come – if you are consistent with your practices.
Google Ads allows setting up a flexible advertising budget for your campaign (Source: Google). It depends on the region, target demographic, and the number of days you want to run your advertisement. The platform will also show you the estimated results based on your budget. This flexibility is one of the main reasons why Google Ads is popular amongst digital marketers.
SEO, on the other hand, is almost free. All it takes is some (incl. technical) knowledge, patience, understanding of good practices. If you are hiring any SEO expert and/or using premium SEO tools, then only you will have to set a budget aside. But if you are completely doing it by yourself, SEO is free – and that is the beauty of it. Just stick to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and stick to the white hat practices.
Google Ads has a lot of metrics and dimensions to define your ad, but it is straightforward. You can find everything you need on Google Support. They have given a neat tutorial on how you can create an advertising campaign with a trove of useful links. If you are going for Google Ads, check them out! Setting up a Google Ads campaign requires no technical knowledge or background. It’s simple English. All you require is some basic knowledge about Google Ads. If you know your goal, method, and your target demographic, you will be able to set it up in no time. The only thing I personally find difficult is to find the right strategy that works out for your business. So, experiment – but be strategic and practical about it!
SEO is incredibly difficult to master compared to Google Ads. You must consider on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, and a variety of factors that revolve around these categories. It takes time, patience, strategy, consistency, and determination to make it work. SEO is dynamic and you may have to experiment around constantly to find out what tunes well for your website. To put it simply, SEO on a website is just like tuning a racing car. You need to get it right to get maximum performance and great results, right? It can get incredibly peculiar and it is hard to master.
Given how I see it, there is no best here. SEO and Google Ads have their pros and cons. But for me, they complement each other well. What SEO can’t do, Google Ads can, and what Google Ads can’t do, SEO can. You should use both on your website. I’ll make it easy.
You have just launched a website recently. You will want to tweak it well with good SEO practices, no doubt. But initially, you are not going to get good traffic. This is where you should consider launching a Google Ads campaign to get that sweet, initial traffic to get a boost. After that, you should consider running occasional Google Ads campaigns. At this stage, your SEO will bring you good organic traffic as well. Then why Google Ads again? Because you would want your business to grow. And in today’s world of competition, speed is equally important. Even the most reputed websites know and follow the constant mix of paid advertising and best SEO practices.
So, there you have it! For me, both are the best. And both shall not be compared. Instead, use them both and achieve greater and better results for your business.
We wish you all the best for your digital business!