SEO vs Google Ads

December 2, 2020 Adlab

SEO and Google Ads will both deliver traffic to your website, but depending on your situation one strategy may deliver better results than the other. For clarification, SEO stands for “search engine optimisation” and involves increasing the rank of your website on Google and other search engines. We’ve written an article about how to structure a blog post for SEO, if you need help with SEO. Google Ads on the other hand, are paid advertisements which appear at the top of the Google Search Engine.

It’s important you understand the pros and cons of both strategies, so you can decide which technique to invest in. 

Benefits of Google Ads

Instant Results

There is no waiting around with Google Ads, from the moment you start paying your ads will start showing. This is a valuable feature if you need a marketing strategy that gets results instantly. This can be useful for running campaigns during key periods like Christmas, Cyber Monday &  Easter.

Top of the Search Engine

Google Ads appear at the top of the Google Search Engine, this is the most sought after position on the search engine. By having your website feature there, your website is in front of everyone’s eyes as they search Google. Being on the second page of Google is almost worthless, because people rarely scroll that far through the search results. 

Benefits of SEO


Unlike Google Ads, SEO lasts forever (or until someone does it better than you). This makes it a great marketing strategy if you’re seeking longevity in your marketing campaign. However it’s worth noting that SEO still requires ongoing work to maintain your high ranking in Google. If you stop investing energy into SEO, you will see your ranking drop. 

Organic Trust

People trust websites that are at the top of Google, because “they must be the best”. In reality they’re not always the best. But there is a sense of trust in websites that are close to the top of Google. SEO gives this trust to your website, and your brand.

Benefits of SEO vs Google Ads

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Negatives of Google Ads


Google Ads are quite expensive, there is no other way to phrase it. You pay per link click, and the price can range from $1 to $50 per click, depending on how competitive your industry is. This pricing can add up quite quickly, especially if you want to reach thousands of people. You certainly need a considerable budget to start experimenting with Google Ads. 


Unfortunately your Google Ads stop running as soon as soon as you stop paying. Unlike SEO which lasts for a considerable amount of time. This encourages Google Ads customers to keep purchasing ads to keep receiving website traffic. This can make your organisation dependent on Google Ads which is something you want to avoid.

Trust Issue

People searching Google aren’t silly, they know that the websites at the top of the page are paid ads. This can turn some people off, as they don’t like clicking on advertisements. The younger generations are especially unlikely to click on a Google Ad, because they don’t like being sold to. However the older generation are more likely to click on an advertisement, because they don’t realise they’re ads. 

Negatives of SEO

Short Term Results

SEO isn’t a fast marketing strategy, it can take weeks or months to see significant changes in the ranking of your website. This makes SEO unviable if you need to see results quickly, you will need to have patience with SEO. I recommend giving yourself at least two months to see proper results with SEO. 

No Guarantee of Results

Increasing your ranking on Google is a tricky and complicated process. There is no simple formula to increase your ranking. Depending on how you try to improve your SEO, your results can vary. And there is no guarantee that your website is going to increase in ranking. I recommend you do your research and go with a reputable organisation that has a proven history in doing SEO.

Who should be using SEO vs Google Ads? 

There is no simple answer to this question, it all depends on your individual situation. But here are some rough guidelines.

If you need instant results = use Google Ads.

If you need results in the long term  = use SEO.

If you have a small budget = use SEO, because it offers a better ROI over a long period of time.  

If you have a large budget = use both SEO and Google Ads, because you will get short and long term results. 

Need More Help?

If you need more help with either SEO or Google Ads, get in contact with us at Adlab. We’re an experienced agency in running marketing campaigns and help your organisation get started with SEO and Google Ads.