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June 14, 2021

SEO Versus Google Ads

The title of this article makes it seem like there’s a bit of competition between SEO and Google Ads and that you need to choose one over the other.  But you don’t, I love them both and depending on your business, will either use both or one strategy to get your business visibility on Google.

In my experience, they’re not mutually exclusive and you can’t really pit one against the other.

Differences Between SEO and Google Ads

SEO and Google Ads are also very different strategies and it’s not about comparing apples with apples.  That said, they both help your business grow online and if you’re serious about getting your website front and centre of the search engines, then you should look at both in order to work out what’s best for your particular business.

A Brief Guide to SEO

Essentially, SEO involves optimising your website and its content using various techniques and tools so that it ranks higher on the search engine results page (SERPs).  These pages are primarily on Google, and the techniques help your website appear in front of users when they search online using selected phrases.  Effective SEO results in a steady increase in website traffic which then ultimately translates into increased conversions and sales.

You might also enjoy “A Beginner’s Guide To The Search Engine Results Page“. It explains all the different features of the various results pages.

Google uses a number of factors to determine where your website ranks in its search results.  These include keyword selection, content quality, site security, mobile compatibility, page loading speeds and the user experience, really overall how good quality your website is and how well it meets the need of the user.

Search engines scan webpages for keywords so that they can sort (index) pages accordingly.  That’s why it’s so crucial to use relevant keywords so that Google and the other search engines can search, retrieve and index your webpages.  This helps them to give searchers exactly what they’re looking for and to match the website with their particular search query.  A thorough keyword selection process does take time and effort, but it is worth it in the long-run.

Original, Quality Content Is Crucial.

Google wants to give users the best possible experience, so it looks for content that meets the searcher’s quest for information.  Quality content is not only gold for Google, it’s the holy grail for your website.  It will engage the reader, hold their interest for longer, answer their questions and encourage them to click through – all of which tell Google that your website is worthy of attention.

Google also ranks websites that have strong security and good privacy levels higher.  A good SEO strategy will ensure that that information on the website is encrypted and that the site is secure.

Google promotes websites that provide a positive user experience, and a large part of SEO is targeted at achieving this.  Sites need to be optimised for easy, logical and intuitive navigation which includes a consistent look and feel, drop-down menus, clear headings, bullet points in the content, eye-catching and engaging visuals (photos, infographics and videos) and easy-to-find contact information.  And with the growing reliance on mobile devices for browsing and e-commerce, websites need to be mobile-friendly to meet users’ expectations.

A Brief Guide to Google Ads

While SEO is a strategy to attract more organic traffic to a website, Google Ads is a paid platform.

Digital marketers pay for their website to appear in the search pages, and it costs them money every time a user clicks on their advertisement.  This is known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and it enables marketers to reach their target audience directly.

These ads work on a keyword bidding system.  In other words, if you want your ad to appear at the top of the search engine results page when someone types in a particular keyword, you make a bid for that keyword phrase.  The amount of your bid is the maximum amount that you are prepared to pay when someone clicks on your ad.

Google Ads take several different forms, normally search ads (at the top of the SERPS above the organic search results) and Google Shopping Ads (found at the top of the search pages under the heading ‘Shopping’).

The frequency and positioning of your Google Ad will depend on the level of your bid (ie the size of your budget!) and your Quality Score.  This is a diagnostic tool for keywords which gives you a sense of how well your ad quality compares to other advertisers. The higher the score, the more relevant and useful your ad and landing page are.

Which One Should You Choose?

There’s no definitive answer to that question.  Both Google Ads and SEO bring something unique to your business and your digital marketing strategy should align with your specific commercial goals.

If you’re after a quick impact on leads and sales, then Google Ads is probably a good choice for your business.  It allows you to target users that are interested in particular topics but it only generates traffic for the duration of the campaign, so results are short-term but instantly measurable.  Often I will make recommendations for Google Ads if there is a lower search volume (ie a small number of people searching) on a wide variety of keywords.

SEO is more about a longer-term, sustainable approach which generates a steady flow of organic traffic.  It’s good for building and entrenching brand awareness but results are generally only evident over time.  Tracking campaign performance and measuring ROI also takes time.

In my nearly 20 years of experience as an SEO specialist in Perth, I have come to understand that SEO and Google Ads don’t have to work alone.  In fact, they complement one another really well.

Google Ads can be used as a strategic adjunct to SEO to increase visibility for important keywords (particularly where the keyword doesn’t have the organic muscle to get it to a page one ranking).  Google Ads is also an effective way of testing consumer response to keywords that are being considered for optimisation.  Similarly, SEO can help digital marketers identify the most appropriate keywords for a Google Ads campaign.

Check out my new online, self-managed course, The SEO School, which takes you through all the key tools and techniques of a successful SEO strategy.  The course is great for business owners, website managers and anyone who wants hands-on learning about all the essentials of SEO from an industry expert.  Find out more about The SEO School here.

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