Google Ads vs. Organic SEO: Which Is the Best Investment for Your Business?
Most businesses want one thing: more sales.
If you want more eyes on your product or service, gaining visibility on search engines is vital. Two of the most effective strategies for bringing more traffic to your website are search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Ads. Both an organic SEO strategy and a paid Google Ads strategy help your business and content rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). This brings more users to your website, ultimately resulting in more sales.
But with so many strategies out there, it can be hard to know where to focus your energy. Is one approach better than another? Will one have a better return on investment? Unfortunately, like many things in life, the answer is “it depends.”
SEO is more cost-effective over time and yields long-term results, but it takes time to implement. Google Ads can bring instant leads to your business. But they involve continuous investment to stay effective. The “right” strategy can depend on your business type, budget, and objectives.
We believe that leveraging both together will lead to the most powerful results.
What Is Organic SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, involves optimizing web pages to rank more highly on search engines like Google.
You can do this through certain practices, including:
- Targeting keywords
- Acquiring backlinks
- On-page SEO
Google is like a concierge who works to make hotel guests happy when they put in a request. Similarly, Google’s algorithm aims to display the most helpful and valuable content for users. It sorts through content, ranking it based on criteria like how long people spend on the page, its perceived relevance, etc.
An organic SEO strategy might involve creating useful content and optimized web pages for users around topics relevant to your business. It creates multiple different avenues for people to discover your brand organically. At Belt Creative, for example, we worked on an SEO strategy for Climate Neutral, empowering them to maintain 600+ brand pages.
SEO is technically free to do on your own. However, it involves a significant investment of time and energy, and without the right research and strategy, it may not yield the desired results.
What Are Google Ads?
Google Ads are an excellent way to get your company in front of people who are directly looking for your services.
There are several types of Google Ads, but in this case, we’ll look at Google Search Ads. These allow companies to pay for their ads to appear within the top results on Google — above organic content — when someone searches for a specific keyword. With over 25% of users clicking on the top Google result, you can’t overestimate the power of Google Ads.
Using Google Ads helps you to:
- Target users actively looking for your services
- Target people in a specific location
- Set daily budgets to spend as little or as much as you want
- Only pay when people click (pay-per-click or PPC)
- Easily manage ads and analyze their performance
Google Ads are particularly impactful for businesses that:
- Operate in specific locations
- Offer urgently-needed products or services, e.g., a plumber or vet
- Are in an industry with low cost per click (CPC)
- Sell hard-to-find products people search for
- Have high profit margins
Comparative Analysis: Google Ads vs. Organic SEO
To help you decide which method is right for you, let’s analyze the difference between SEO and PPC (Google ads) in more detail and see how they compare in the following areas.
Organic rankings drive long-term traffic without additional costs after the initial investment required for website optimization, keyword research, and content creation.
Google Ads, on the other hand, operates on a PPC model and requires a continuous financial commitment. You may have to pay more when bidding for high-demand keywords and set a daily budget. It only drives traffic for as long as the ads are in operation.
- Requires an initial investment of money or time
- Can be maintained with few additional costs
- Requires a continual financial commitment
- Includes ongoing expenses for every click
SEO requires patience and dedication, but it yields sustainable and long-term rewards. It typically takes six to 12 months to see results from your SEO strategy. Once your website gains authority and visibility in search engine results through SEO, it can continue attracting organic traffic for a long time.
Google Ads can provide results immediately and gain your website rapid traffic, but its benefits are short-lived and tied to continued spending.
- Longer-term results
- Sustainable and cumulative benefits
- Immediate results
- Short term focus
SEO targets people more broadly than ads do. It might improve the overall visibility of a website in organic search results, which may attract a diverse audience interested in the subject matter.
Google Ads offers precise targeting options, letting businesses connect with specific user segments based on criteria like keywords, demographics, location, interests, and browsing behavior. Advertisers can optimize their ad spend and reach the most relevant potential customers.
- Broad audience targeting
- Relies on users discovering the website through relevant content
- Specific targeting
- Reaches users actively searching for your product(s) or service(s)
Credibility & Trust
Organic SEO builds credibility and trust over time as the website gains higher rankings, attracts a wider audience, and consistently delivers valuable content. It is perceived as trustworthy by users and search engines alike.
In contrast, Google Ads can provide immediate visibility, but its credibility may be subject to skepticism and is more short-term in nature.
- Enhances credibility over time
- Perceived as trustworthy
- Builds reputation long-term
- Potential skepticism
- Relevance matters
- Complementary role
SEO’s lasting value lies in sustainable organic traffic, increased credibility, long-term ROI, and adaptability to algorithm changes.
Google Ads provides immediate visibility but has temporary benefits which end alongside the campaign. You must continue paying for each click to keep seeing results from Google Ads.
- Creates lasting value
- Long-term return on investment (ROI)
- Has temporary benefits
- Limited duration
Harmonizing Google Ads With Organic SEO
If businesses want a balance of quick gains and lasting success, we recommend considering both strategies in your marketing approach.
A well-rounded digital marketing strategy may combine using Google Ads for immediate visibility and precise targeting alongside an organic SEO strategy to build a broadly sustained reach and long-term presence.
Google Ads and Organic SEO Are Well Matched
Overall, both methods are an essential part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Leveraging Google Ads for immediate benefits, quick search engine visibility, and more specific audience targeting can be the perfect complementary strategy for SEO. Optimizing your site and content for SEO will increase your long-term credibility and presence by adding value for users. SEO is vital to attracting consistent traffic over time with sustainable cost-effectiveness.
If you want to learn how to effectively leverage SEO and Google Ads for your business, contact Belt Creative today to learn more.