SEO Vs. Google Ads: Which Is Better?

By:  Richard Kennedy

Updated On: March 10, 2023

The comparison to PPC and SEO traffic is not new; people have been trying to draw comparisons ever since Google existed. It can be challenging to find what is ‘better’ for your business.

seo vs google ads

My aim with this article isn’t to tell you what source you should use for your business, but to show you the differences, and make your mind up.

For starters, there is a lot more potential with brand building and brand awareness when it comes to SEO. Google Ads can be expensive, so depending on the keywords you choose, expect to pay anywhere from 1$ per click to $50+ depending on your market.

If you’re spending this much just to get people to come to your site, you’d better have a goal in mind, otherwise expecting to lose a lot of money.

When it comes to building awareness and creating high value, engaging content will always win over ads when it comes to an ROI.

What Are the Benefits of PPC?

The most significant benefit is very little time taken to get traffic. Once your ads have been approved provided you have a large enough budget, your site will be displayed. When compared to SEO, that can take months to rank for highly competitive terms. With PPC, you can get:

  • Quick results
  • It’s easy to measure and track
  • Highly targeted advertising
  • Geo-targeted advertising

Quick results – This is the most obvious, and is also the biggest benefit when compared to SEO. A lot of SEO companies will use PPC as a way to test keywords for your campaign. 

Easy to measure and track – Google makes it very easy for you to check-in and see how successful your campaigns are.

If you’re trying to get direct eCommerce sales with your advertising, you can see exactly how much your ad spend has returned on that investment.

It is essential to say that you should make sure your Google Ads are set up correctly to be tracked. If you’re using this as a way to test out keywords for a longer SEO campaign, this is vital.

Highly targeted advertising – You only pay for the keywords you want to target, and you can see the ROI from each keyword, so with time, focus on certain keywords and audiences that are more likely to respond to your offer.

What Are the Negatives of PPC?

The most obvious is the cost. When compared to other forms of traffic, it is slightly pricier, while social media advertising and SEO tends to be cheaper. The only real negative of PPC is just the cost associated with it.

Conversion also tends to be lower with PPC traffic than SEO, we’ll talk more about that below.

Overbidding on your pay-per-click campaigns can burn your pockets. It’s important to ensure that your bids are perfectly aligned to the end goal of the campaign. You can use this handy bid calculator to find the maximum bid that you should pay for a click in any ad channel based on the goal.

What Are the Benefits of SEO?

The main benefit of SEO, compared to other forms of digital marketing, is that people are searching for your business or service already. Whether they’re looking for answers to a question, products, or services, they are already searching for something related to your product or service.

If you’re doing SEO correctly, your website will appear at the top when they search for terms that are relevant to your niche. With effective SEO, you get

  • Lower costs
  • Higher CTR
  • A lot more potential
  • Brand building
  • Consumer trust

Lower costs – When compared to PPC, the costs, if done correctly, should be lower when you compare CPC. Depending on your circumstances, you could get started with SEO for very little to nothing in terms of budget.

A lot more potential – You’re able to target a whole lot more, typically in every campaign, there will be keywords that convert at a lower rate.

With PPC, it wouldn’t be worth targeting these terms, but with SEO, the cost is very little or nothing to develop a great piece of content with proper internal linking, sometimes that is all that is needed.

Higher CTR – Although we know the number 1 ranked website for any given search term doesn’t get all of the traffic, it has a much higher CTR compared to the number 1 ad for the same search term.

This also is a good way to gauge how profitable our PPC keywords could be if we’re turning a profit from the clicks on PPC- there is an excellent chance you can do the same with SEO, and you’ll actually get a larger slice of the pie.

Brand building – Similar to the point above, you’re able to target a much larger audience as you aren’t restricted to turning a profit from each click to make it viable.

Depending on your market, you can build guides and rank them for terms that you wouldn’t usually pay for a click but will get your brand out there.

Consumer trust – Often overlooked, the trust that comes with ranking at the top for your keywords is massive.

How often do you trust the website that comes in first for your searches? There is a saying in SEO, “The best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google.” 

This is because people trust the answers they get in the first few results. If they haven’t found a solution to what they’re looking for in the first few, they will try another search term. This is why conversion rates for SEO traffic compared to PPC are higher- trust.

What Are the Negatives of SEO?

Time is the biggest negative. It takes quite a lot of time and effort to rank your business by yourself. Even with professional help, SEO doesn’t happen overnight.

A lot of effort is required to create the proper structure of a website, you need to have supporting content to your main pages, backlinks to the pages you want to rank. SEO involves a lot of work, but when you do it, it can be extremely profitable.

What Should You Choose?

This depends on a lot of circumstances. But this article lays out the pros and cons of each, so it’s up to you to decide what is the best route to take for your business. 

However, you should remember – SEO is the eventual long term strategy for your business, while PPC is a good way to test the keywords beforehand.


Richard Kennedy

Richard is the founder of Arken Marketing an award-winning SEO agency in the UK. Having worked with businesses small to large in the last 10 years he has an in-depth knowledge of all things SEO, specializing in link building. Connect with him on Twitter


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *