Google Ads vs SEO. Which tool fits your Marketing strategy best?
Business people who have already decided to invest in Online Marketing often face the same dilemma: Which tool brings me the most profit – Google Ads vs SEO? The answer is, of course, subjective and includes a lot of influencing factors: the company’s profile, the length of time on the market, the objectives included in the strategy, etc.
What must be highlighted from the beginning is that we are talking about two very powerful Marketing tools, with clear performance, easy to anticipate. The power to predict results before investing is the basic quality that sets each of them apart. What makes us choose one tool or the other is the difference in speed, costs or rejection rate of the users.
Below, we are going to present the specifics of each strategy and compare them in order to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each. We will also find the answer to the question: What do we do with traffic once it reaches the site?
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is a set of tools that ensures an increase in business visibility in search engines. Based on a Keyword Research, you can identify the most popular and profitable searches that your potential customers do. By optimizing the content that your brand provides both On Page and Off Page, you ensure that the site will be indexed in a higher position in search engines, generating leads or direct sales.
Do you remember the diamond, gold and silver mines we talked about in a previous blog post? We were saying then that Search Engine Optimization is the method through which you can reach the top three sites displayed for a keyword. They account for about 64%* of total traffic. Optimization is a long process, but once you reach a leading position, the ROI will be commensurate.
When indexing sites, Google’s algorithm scores them from 0 to 100. The higher the grade, the better the display position. This score is based on some basic principles:
- page / domain age;
- the number of backlinks or links brought from Off Page SEO;
- the user’s search term;
- the keywords inside the site (text, URL, titles, meta descriptions, etc.);
- the website’s loading speed;
- whetherthe platform is user-friendly and mobile-friendly.
These are just some of the most important elements. The procedure performed by search engines is a complex and very well regulated one. Thus, the first results can give the user a very good search experience.
What is Google Ads?
Google Adwords, rebranded in 2018 as Google Ads, is a paid promotion platform created by the famous company. With its help, your brand reaches potential customers more easily in different forms:
- Ads Search Campaigns – PPC (Pay-per-Click) campaigns displayed on the results page;
- Ads Display Campaigns – graphic ads displayed on other sites / platforms;
- Remarketing campaigns – a combination of the first two options through which you can retarget potential customers;
- Others: YouTube Ads, Google Shopping etc.
To make a comparison with Search EngineOptimization, we will focus, in the following, on the first function. As wewere saying, Google makes Pay Per Click campaigns available. This involves displaying, in search engines, of what we can call “clickable ads”. They are distributed according to the keywords for which a marketer bids a certain amount of money. The higher the value, the more the ad will be prioritized by Google, ranking first in the ad category.
Google Ads vs SEO – which one suits you best?
We cannot say that one of the tools is more effective than the other. Obviously, opinions are subjective, but you have to understand what is specific to each one and adapt your strategy according to the objectives you have. Undoubtedly, the maximum results are obtained if we find a balance between the two, but sometimes circumstances force us to choose only one.
- Google Ads has immediate effects compared to SEO. Once a company becomes active, it begins to generate traffic. SEO, on the other hand, involves a long-term process, the results becoming visible after about 6 months. However, traffic is much higher (organic positions share about 90% of traffic*) than paid ads (about 6-9%*).
Below is the example of one of our clients, who currently has about 36,000 keywords on which SEO is done. They bring 116,000 visitors a month. If we were to pay for the same volume of hits, the company would have to invest about $60,000 in PPC campaigns each month
- In the case of SEO, when targeting certain keywords we must take into account a rather complex algorithm when we developthe content. Google Ads gives us the freedom to target any keyword we deem appropriate, the decisive factor being, in this case, the budget. The more you bid, the higher your display position for a keyword will be.
- Google Ads brings paid traffic, which means you’ll invest money for every person who reachesyour site, whether or not they make a purchase. SEO brings organic traffic, but that doesn’t totally save you costs. In order for the flow of clients to be constant and for your indexing position to remain constant, you need to work constantly with an agency that monitors the process and intervenes as needed. In most cases, SEO costs come in the form of a fixed monthly subscription that a client pays to the agency. In the first 6 months, SEO is more of an investment, but in the medium and long term, the ROI is much higher.
- Google Ads brings you to the first page of results, while with SEO you can stay for a while on the secondary pages. In countries such as the USA, it is very difficult to get on the first page because the competition is very high and the sites enjoy a very high SEO score. Fortunately, in the case of Romania, the situation is better and, together with the right team of professionals, your business can reach the first three positions not only on niche keywords, but also on some general, strong ones.
- The bounce rate is much higher for Google Ads than for organic traffic. The bounce rate is an indicator that shows how many users leave the landing page immediately after accessing it, without going through the content or performing any other action on the site. The factors that influence the bounce rate are not only the source of the traffic, but also the quality of the content, the loading speed, the type of activity of your business, the type of device from which it is accessed. We will develop this topic in a future article.
We brought traffic to the site. What’s next?
Many business people decide to invest in Google Ads or SEO campaigns without working with an agency. The results will be visible: traffic will increase on the site. What they don’t take into account is how they will turn traffic into profit. Without a holistic Online Marketing strategy, the investment in these tools is wasted without bringing a substantial ROI. Therefore, our main recommendation is to maintain a long-term partnership with a promotion agency.
We can see in the image below how important it is for the processes to be constantly monitored by a team of specialists. One of our clients managed to record, in 3 years, an impressive increase in organic traffic. It can be seen, however, that there were also moments of decline. Without the supervision of a specialist, the results would have continued their downward path.
Coming back to turning traffic into sales / leads, the most effective method is Remarketing. People get to your site on a first visit, but you can’t be sure they’re interested in making an immediate purchase. By retargeting, you can send them personalized messages to persuade them to buy or use your service.
Google Ads vs SEO – the margin product and the stage product
Given that organic is the aspect for which Google is recognized, but which does not bring profit to the company, we can consider SEO as its stage product. Google Ads is the margin product, through which the company actually ensures its income. How do you ensure that you will have investment in the area of paid advertising, if most of the traffic is captured by organic? There are two explanations from our point of view:
- You need Remarketing to turn organic traffic into conversions, and this can only be done by placing ads.
- In a highly developed online market (e.g. the USA, Western Europe), it is very difficult for a new brand to reach the first page of results organically. The sites there have very high SEO scores and are constantly investing in improving / maintaining their position. In this case, Google Ads remains the only option to appear on the first page of results. Many businesses are forced to use this tool to increase their profit because they have not made the decision to implement SEO tactics on time.
Fortunately, Romania is a country where NOT many people have discovered the benefit of investing in SEO. So, this is the ideal time for your business to be indexed on a higher level. This way, you’ll only use paid ads during occasional campaigns. You won’t have to spend huge budgets in order to drive traffic.
So, where do we stand on Google Ads vs. SEO after all? Undoubtedly, the maximum results are obtained if we find a balance between the two instruments. Paid promotion is useful to support, at peak times, the slow but effective process of optimization. The first takes effect immediately, but temporarily – the results of a Google Ads campaign are maintained only as long as we invest. The other has slow but high-performance effects: SEO effects remain visible in the long run if monitored.
In other words, if you need a massive sales boost, you can rely on Google Ads for a while. However, do not neglect the investment in optimization, which ensures the harmonious development of the business. SEO helps you create a visible brand, notorious and trustworthy, but also to be able to keep your position on the market in times of crisis.
The SEO 365 team is happy to support, during this period, the Romanian business environment. We put our over 20 years of online experience at the service of those who want to move their business in the digital environment. We aim to work together to identify all opportunities for the next period: increasing visibility, generating leads / sales or community loyalty through Social Media. Contact us for free advice!
Article based on information provided by Attila Kiraly, Founder @SEO 365
* Statistics show average values. The percentages may differ depending on the field of activity.