Google Ads vs Paid SEO – What’s the Difference? - Sparx Digital

Within the digital marketing industry, there is much speculation about Google Ads versus Paid SEO and which is better for business. Each offers a key to search engine ranking and getting seen online at the right time by the right audience.

Questions that business owners ask and answers to which marketers must determine include:

  • Is SEO viable in the 2020s?
  • Are Google Ads too competitive?
  • Are Google Ads expensive?
  • Which offers the best ongoing long-term benefits?

Both are great business marketing strategies – it’s simply a question of identifying which is going to best suit your business model and brand, and investing your marketing budget based on this.

What is Your Marketing Goal?

You will need to identify the search engine marketing strategy which will ultimately deliver the most leads, online traffic, conversions, and revenue. A positive return on investment is crucial.

You can certainly invest in both Google Ads and Paid SEO, and for some businesses, integrating both will deliver the best results. The perfect marketing strategy can be a clever combination of both approaches. But for many other businesses, and depending on your industry, your target audience, and your goals, one will provide a better return on investment – and this fundamentally depends on the type of business you operate and from where you wish to source your leads.

Paid SEO (search engine optimisation) is a complex process which enhances and improves the online presence of a business and website. This translates to greater visibility in search engine results on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Its fundamental aim is to make improvements to your website both on and off your page to outrank your competitors when it comes to organic search results. SEO is based on target keywords and works best as a long-term strategy which builds on itself and adapts to Google algorithm changes. Ranks are determined by a combination of keyword selection, content quality, site security, mobile optimisation, user experience, page speed, and backlinks. An effective strategy by an expert SEO provider will usually continue to benefit a website well after active SEO work has been completed – although many businesses benefit enormously from ongoing effective campaigns indefinitely. It is a highly effective way to generate leads and convert customers.

  • Generates continuous traffic
  • Appear in search results
  • Costs independent of clicks
  • Results take time
  • Tracking takes time
  • ROI takes time

Google Ads (AdWords) offers paid advertising which is visible in Google search engine results. This is a platform which enables business owners and marketers to display concise ads with basic, essential information on a highly-targeted area of the web. A form of Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising, it displays ads when they are triggered by a specific targeted keyword search in Google. The result appears as a highly-visible advert rather than a search engine result listing. Only a few of these ads are displayed for each search – so it is very competitive and you “bid” on what you are willing to pay to have your ad displayed. The position of your ad on the page is dictated by your bid and quality score (given by Google) and the frequency with which your ad is shown depends on your chosen budget. You are in control of how much you are willing to invest, the nature and cost of your campaign, and how long you with the campaign to run for, and you pay only when a web visitor clicks on your ad. It is a much more cost-effective channel than traditional advertising methods.

  • Generates traffic for the campaign duration only
  • Place ads in search results and on partner websites
  • Pay only when users click on your ad
  • Fast results
  • Instantly track results
  • Instant return on investment

Google Ads vs Paid SEO: Which is Right for My Business?

Paid SEO and AdWords both have their pros and cons. They also share some similarities.

A rule of thumb used by some professional marketers is to:

  • Use Google Ads to advertise to a specific audience
  • Use Paid SEO to market to a mass audience

First, you need to determine and define your marketing goal in terms of your business goal. This will include brand awareness, engagement, generating and nurturing leads, and conversions. You’ll also need to consider:

  1. Your budget
  2. Your campaign time frame
  3. Current revenue level
  4. Industry type
  5. Target audience
  6. Current online presence
  7. Product and service pricing
  8. Competitor marketing activity

The perfect strategy may include both Google Ads and SEO, but this can be an expensive undertaking from the outset. Most business owners will opt for one over the other. You will be best advised by marketing experts as the decision-making process between the two options is not necessarily simple and will be based on your unique circumstances.

A basic list of comparative advantages and disadvantages of each approach is as follows:

SEO Pros:

  • Potentially better long term ROI
  • Greater exposure
  • Greater brand awareness
  • Highly relevant results

SEO Cons:

  • Results take time
  • Ongoing work required
  • The website may need optimising initially
  • Quantifying may be difficult

Google Ads Pros:

  • Fast set-up
  • Low-cost setup
  • Highly trackable
  • Minimal development time
  • Immediate results possible (clicks, impressions)

Google Ads Cons:

  • May be expensive
  • Cost per click can vary and climb
  • Requires constant monitoring

Integrating both approaches to online marketing will not be feasible for a lot of businesses. To see immediate results with targeted traffic, Google Ads is your best option if you are selecting just one of the two.

Google Ads (Adwords) is ideal for startups and new businesses seeking fast targeted traffic to find new customers, make sales, and test their products. From here, and once costs are viable, you may choose to work in parallel with AdWords on content marketing, social media marketing, and/or SEO for overall premium results and long term online success.

Contact Sparx Digital for an Effective Google Ads Strategy!

Sparx Digital is the ideal agency for your Google Ads campaign to deliver quality leads and traffic to your website with fast, measurable results and instant return on your investment. We have the expertise and the techniques to help boost your conversion rate and help you get more sales.

We are comprised of a fun and energetic team of digital thinkers and tech gurus! We simplify digital marketing and work with you to deliver what you need: creative strategies which help you succeed. Google AdWords is just one of these strategies which we offer – we are here to help you get seen online!

Call us today on 1300 477 279 or email us at

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