Google Ads vs. SEO – An Introduction

In this age of Digitisation, many traditional businesses have started taking their business online. Whether it’s a simple application for your smartphone or a website visited by millions of users worldwide, this practice has been proven incredibly effective. New names have been emerging in the digital world for the past 7 years (Source: UNCTAD). What’s more? Making a website is simple and getting a domain is rather cheap these days. But that’s just the first step! You have made a website for your business, or a blog to share your thoughts and now you need to generate traffic on your webpage. Getting good traffic on your website is very important as it is the primary source of your digital revenue.

There are many ways to make a website effective and attractive to generate traffic. Today, we are going to compare two major aspects that matter the most: Google Ads vs SEO


What is Google Ads (Google AdWords)?

As the name suggests, Google Ads (previously known as Google Adwords) is an advertising platform provided by Google. Advertisers use this platform to launch ad campaigns that may appear through Google Search result pages, YouTube advertisements, and Gmail promotions.

Google advertisement functions on Cost per Click (CPC) or Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM). In CPC, you have to pay a certain amount to google each time someone clicks on your advertisement. In CPM, you have to pay a certain amount to Google each time your advertisement makes an appearance anywhere to the users. While Google Ads are restricted only to the Google Search Engine or websites that have enrolled in the Google Ads program, it is a widely used platform globally and hence, worth considering as an advertiser.
(Source: Google)


What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Imagine a giant clockwork machine that has a lot of gears. All these gears must be well-maintained and functional for the machine to function, right? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is exactly like a clockwork machine that works to generate traffic for your website. Simply put, SEO is a practice that tweaks your website in such a way that it will easily make an appearance on the search engines. The beauty of SEO is that it can be practised on any website to increase its visibility and traffic across all kinds of search engines.

There are many aspects of SEO that must work together for it to practically work. It takes knowledge, patience, critical thinking, and a lot of hard work. SEO is completely free, and if done right, it targets quality traffic that is very fruitful for your website in long run. It is a vast subject for study, and as a beginner, you can learn more about it with this article by Search Engine Journal!


The Difference between SEO and Google Ads

Google ads and SEO both have their advantages and disadvantages. Let us subcategorise them for a simple explanation.

The time span in terms of generating traffic:

Google ads stay active as long as you keep paying for them. You will keep generating some kind of traffic for the duration of your ad. However, if your website does not follow good SEO practices, the traffic will drop as soon as the advertising duration is over.

Properly SEO optimised websites can generate traffic far better than an advertised link and for longer durations as well. The majority of the traffic for websites is generated through search engines. SEO optimises your website in such a way that it will appear frequently on search engine results. Indexing plays an important part in this process and you can find more about it here.


Whether it is CPC or CPM, Google Ads will cost you based on the keywords you pay for. The quality of your website matters if you want to generate more leads but with cheaper costs as Google Ads will take the quality of your website into consideration when determining the cost. Besides that, you have to compete to get strategic advertisement places there since the whole system is like an auction house. Advertisers compete with each other through bidding for the best advertisement places. (Source: Google)

SEO is completely free and requires a strategy to make that giant clockwork machine work effectively. SEO purely relies on generating traffic through organic links that appear through search results.

Traffic Generation:

Google Ads are very effective at generating leads to your website. The revenues can skyrocket if you effectively target specific traffic through the various tools the Google Ads platform provides. The tools may include targeting a specific age group, people searching for certain keywords, targeting people from a specific country, or timed targeting.

On the downside, the traffic may drop once your advertisement campaign is over, as opposed to SEO optimised websites. These websites are optimised to appear organically for certain keywords people search over the Internet. In fact, a study by Zero Limit Web has shown that people are much likely to click on organic links than advertised links. Most people find advertisements downright annoying or spammy. I am sure you have felt that many times as well.

Level of Difficulty:

Advertising is much easier than SEO optimisation as it only includes paying for an ad campaign that does all the promotional work. Having proper knowledge about what to target, where to target, and for what purpose to target your advertisement can do wonders for your website. Also, Google Ads allow you to focus on a wide variety of keywords to generate effective traffic for the website. A little guide on ‘ad targeting‘ by Google!

Whereas, strategic SEO optimisation is much more difficult as various factors come into play for it to work effectively. One has to put a tremendous amount of effort to make SEO work effectively. It can take a lot of time to get a good ranking and traffic. Also, you have to focus on using a specific and limited amount of keywords to attract traffic to your website. Get to know the factors that can affect your SEO optimisation here! (Source: Search Engine Journal)


So? What’s good for me?

The answer to this question should be simple: Both!

SEO and Google Advertising should be treated as two sides of a coin and not be compared against each other. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages but together, they can take a website to new heights and ahead of the game quickly if done right.

An SEO optimised website will help you generate traffic in the long run while a Google Ad will boost your traffic and revenue in the short run if done right. Opt-in for Google Advertisement when you have launched a new website as SEO optimisation takes time to be in effect (Source: Search Engine Journal). You can also launch advertisement campaigns whenever you release a new product or new content on your website. This will help you to kickstart your traffic generation. Over time, you can follow some best SEO practices to make your website even more effective in generating traffic. (Source: ReliableSoft)

In a nutshell: Use advertisements to kick-start newly launched content. Use SEO to constantly generate traffic through organic clicks.


In Conclusion:

Let’s take an example for our understanding: You own an online food delivery business in Cape Town and it has a well SEO optimised website. A well SEO optimised website means you are constantly getting some traffic every day and you are generating a certain amount of revenue. Now, you have recently launched a new food dish. At this time, you would want to advertise it, through which you will generate even more traffic. At the same time, people will be familiarised with the product. People like the product and you also receive new customers, thanks to your advertisement and the product. Next time they want to order this dish, they are going to search for your business and this way, you are going to get some organic traffic.

This is how Google Ads and SEO works in harmony. The best way to run a good website is to have knowledge about these practices. You can use Google Ads when you want quick traffic but you need SEO for a long and sustainable online success.

If you require any help with SEO or Google Advertising, Digital Lime Green offers quality and affordable services in Cape Town, South Africa.
If you have any questions, feel free to connect with us.