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

14 March, 2024
Chloe Baird
7min read


  • Understanding SEO
  • Understanding Google Ads
  • Difference Between SEO and Google Ads
  • How SEO and Google Ads Work Together
  • Factors to Consider When Choosing Between SEO and Google Ads
  • Drive Real Business Results With G Squared

In the digital age, the battle for visibility on search engines is fierce. Understanding the nuances of SEO (search engine optimisation) and Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is crucial for any marketing strategy. SEO employs the power of organic search results to bring relevant, valuable traffic to your website, laying a foundation for a sustained online presence. Google Ads accelerates this process, using search ads and Google PPC (pay-per-click) ads to target relevant keywords and display your message on search results and relevant websites.

So, when it comes down to it, which is better for your business: SEO or Google Ads? Or is the best strategy to employ both for the greatest effect? In this blog, we’ll look at the pros and cons of SEO and Google Ads, the different features of both strategies, and how you can implement them to drive real business results.

Understanding SEO

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimisation is a multifaceted approach used to organically increase a website's visibility on search engines. It includes:

  • On-page SEO: involves optimising content and keywords on the website to be relevant and valuable. 

  • Off-page SEO: involves activities outside the website, such as building backlinks to enhance site authority. 

  • Technical SEO: focuses on improving the website's backend structure, ensuring it's easily crawlable by search engines.

Together, these strategies together form a well-rounded SEO campaign that aims to attract quality, organic traffic without direct advertising expenses.

How Does Google Rank Websites?

In order to enhance your website’s visibility on Google, you first need to understand SEO's significance and how it is implemented. By optimising on-page factors like search intent, content relevance, and usability alongside off-page elements such as backlinks, businesses can significantly improve their search engine rankings. 

Some of the Google ranking factors include:

  • Search intent: Google aims to precisely align search results with the user's intent, categorising queries into navigational, informational, commercial, and transactional to deliver the most relevant content.

  • Relevance: The search engine personalises results based on user search history and geographical location, prioritising content that matches these factors to increase user satisfaction.

  • Content quality: Google uses E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) as a benchmark to evaluate content's credibility and usefulness, impacting its visibility.

  • Usability: A site's user experience, judged by mobile compatibility and Core Web Vitals (speed, responsiveness, visual stability), is crucial for higher rankings.

  • Backlinks: High-quality backlinks from reputable sources signal to Google the authority and trustworthiness of your content, significantly affecting rankings.

  • Domain and page authority: These metrics, though third-party, help estimate how Google views the strength and credibility of your site and individual pages based on backlinks. 

It’s important to note that these are just some of the factors that contribute to search engine ranking. Search engine rankings are changing and evolving all the time, which is why it’s important to constantly monitor and manage your website to ensure its rankings don’t slip.

Long-Term Benefits of SEO

The primary benefit of SEO is the sustainable growth it offers in website traffic and online presence. Well-optimised sites gain enhanced credibility and search visibility, leading to an increase in organic traffic. This steady influx of genuinely interested visitors is invaluable, contributing significantly to long-term business success and brand recognition. Through quality content and optimised user experiences, SEO not only attracts but retains a loyal audience, establishing your site's authority in its niche and fostering trust among its visitors.

Understanding Google Ads

What Is Google Ads?

Google Ads is a comprehensive advertising platform that allows businesses to display ads across Google's vast network, including its search engine results pages, websites, and apps. By targeting specific keywords, Google Ads enables advertisers to show their messages to a highly engaged audience precisely when they are searching for related products or services. Unlike social media ads, which target users based on their social behaviours and interests, Google Ads focuses on user intent, capturing potential customers in the moment they are actively seeking information or solutions.

Understanding Ad Placement Opportunities

Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click principle, allowing ads to be displayed in a variety of strategic locations: 

  • Google Search results: Paid search ads may be positioned at the top or bottom of Google Search results, giving immediate visibility to users actively searching for related keywords.

  • Google Display Network: This extensive network allows ads to be displayed on various websites, apps, and videos, targeting users based on their interests and browsing history.

  • Google Shopping: Ads in Google Shopping are tailored for product searches, directly linking users to your product pages.

  • YouTube: Ads on YouTube can be tailored to appear before, during, or after videos, targeting viewers based on their viewing preferences.

This diversity enables businesses to tailor their advertising strategies to specific audiences and objectives, maximising the impact of online marketing efforts.

Google Ads Benefits

There are many benefits of Google Ads. For starters, Google Ads offers immediate visibility and targeted advertising, crucial for quick market impact and precise audience engagement. While SEO gradually builds traffic over time, activating a Google Ads campaign can generate immediate site visits. It provides advanced targeting based on geography, demographics, and user behaviour, alongside measurable ROI (return on investment), allowing for accurate investment return calculation. The PPC model can also be a cost-effective way to drive traffic, but it requires careful planning and ongoing optimisation to ensure that the advertising spend gives you the best possible results.

However, it would only be fair to mention Google Ads pros and cons. If you’re working within a strict budget, then Google Ads may end up being an expensive (though instantaneous) strategy compared to SEO. Also, if you’re new to the world of digital marketing, then there can be a steep learning curve if you’re using Google Ads. Effectively managing a Google Ads campaign to monitor results takes time, dedication and an understanding of the platform. Overall, you need to consider many different factors before you decide Google Ads is the right choice for your marketing campaign.

Do Google Ads help SEO?

While Google Ads don't directly boost SEO rankings, they contribute to increased brand visibility and traffic. This heightened awareness can lead to more organic searches for your brand, indirectly benefiting your SEO efforts. Additionally, the data and insights gained from Google PPC ads, such as which keywords are driving traffic and conversions, can be invaluable for optimising your SEO strategy, helping to refine your content and keyword focus.

Difference Between SEO and Google Ads



Google Ads


No direct cost per click, focused on content creation and optimisation efforts.

Pay-per-click model, with costs varying based on keyword competition.


Depends on search engine algorithms.

Full control over ad placement, budget, and targeting options.

Time to See Results

Results are typically seen over a longer term, often taking months to materialise.

Immediate results as soon as campaigns are live, providing quick visibility.

Keyword Selection

Keywords are selected based on overall content relevance and SEO strategies.

Advertisers can choose precise keywords for targeting ads to desired audiences.


Organic search results, depending on SEO effectiveness and keyword relevance.

Ads can appear above organic results, on partner sites, and within the Google Display Network.

Tracking Metrics

Common metrics include click-through rates (CTR), bounce rates, and organic rankings.

Focuses on clicks, impressions, conversion rates, and cost per conversion for measuring success.

How SEO and Google Ads Work Together

Integrating SEO and PPC ads into your marketing strategy offers a multifaceted approach to digital visibility and user engagement. Here's how they can work together to maximise your online presence:

  • Keyword insights: Google Ads provides real-time data on keyword performance, which can be invaluable for refining your SEO strategy.

  • Enhanced visibility: Having both SEO and Google Ads campaigns means your brand can appear twice on the search results page, increasing visibility and potentially doubling your chances of click-through.

  • Improved click-through rates (CTRs): A dual presence in paid and organic search results can bolster the brand's credibility, encouraging more clicks across both channels.

  • Audience insights: The demographic and behavioural data from Google Ads can fine-tune the SEO efforts, targeting content more effectively to meet the audience's needs.

  • Content strategy optimisation: PPC campaigns offer insights into which content drives engagement and conversions, guiding SEO efforts to focus on high-performing topics and keywords.

Leveraging both SEO and Google Ads allows for a dynamic, responsive marketing strategy that can adjust to market trends, consumer behaviours, and the competitive landscape. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between SEO and Google Ads

If you’re choosing between SEO and Google Ads, consider how each aligns with your business goals and the competitive nature of your industry. For long-term organic growth, SEO is an excellent strategy, while Google Ads can provide quick visibility and lead generation. Also, consider your industry's competitiveness; highly competitive markets might make Google Ads expensive and SEO a smarter choice for sustainable growth. Ultimately, using SEO and Google Ads in tandem often delivers the best results, leveraging the strengths of both for immediate impact and sustainable growth.

Drive Real Business Results With G Squared

Enhance your online presence and drive tangible business results with G Squared. As an integrated marketing solutions consultancy, we specialise in both SEO and paid media advertising. This allows us to serve your business holistically, providing you with one touch point for multiple marketing services. Our team of consultants have a wealth of experience in delivering highly effective, bespoke digital marketing strategies that elevate your visibility and maximise your ROI. Get in touch with us and discover how our tailored approach to digital marketing can benefit your business today.

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