seo vs ppc

SEO vs Google Ads: Which is Best?

“What’s the difference between SEO (search engine optimisation) and Google Ads and which one should my business use?” We get so many questions from our clients around this topic, and we’re here to answer them all!

Comparing organic search to paid search is like comparing apples to oranges. While they both have similar goals in that they help get your brand in front of potential customers online, they also have big differences. It really boils down to your current situation, objectives and marketplace.

SEO and Google Ads each offer something unique to your business. Understanding what they are, how they work and the difference between them can help you decide whether your company should choose SEO, Google Ads, or both. Let’s get started!

1. What is SEO? 
2. How does SEO work? 
3. Who should use SEO? 
4. What are Google Ads? 
5. How do Google Ads work? 
6. Who should use Google Ads? 
7. What’s the difference between SEO & Google Ads? 
8. Should you choose SEO or Google ads?

What is SEO?

We have an entire blog post dedicated to answering this question, but to explain it in a nutshell, SEO is a form of digital marketing that optimises your website and its content so that it appears higher on the search engine results page (SERP). This helps your website gain visibility online and more people are able to find you through free, organic search results. Advertisers cannot pay to have their site rank higher in organic listings.

How does SEO work?

When a user types a phrase into the search bar, Google looks for websites that have the most relevant information and then displays them in the form of search results. For your website to rank for a search term, it needs to have relevant content and be easily readable by Google.

By targeting the right keywords, your website will appear to the right people, who are actively seeking your products or services in your targetted location. Have a look at the example below. If a user searches for “Digital Marketing Agency in Sandton”, the listings that appear below the “Ad” listings are the organic search results, generated from a successful SEO strategy. Ideally, you want to be on the first page of organic listings, as 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines.

soms organic seo search listing

Who should use SEO?

If you have a website, the answer is always yes!  Think about what a user would type into Google to find your company. For instance, if you’re a pet groomer in Cape Town, you might type in “dog salon Cape Town”. Try searching a few phrases that you think people would type into Google, and see where your company shows up. If you’re not appearing on the first page of Google, you need SEO. But remember: once you reach golden status of appearing on the first page, you shouldn’t stop or pause your SEO strategy. SEO is an ongoing investment which needs to be constantly monitored and maintained, to prevent your competitors from outranking you.

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads (a form of paid search also known as PPC or pay-per-click) is a platform run by Google, that allows you to advertise your website in the search results. You can target particular keywords and phrases, so that your website appears when a user enters those keywords into Google. These ads appear at the very top of the search results page, along with the text “Ad” on it. Here’s an example on what a Google Ad looks like:

google ad example

Who should use Google Ads?

Google Ads are a great way to get quick, instant results for a product, service or special offer. Perhaps you have a Valentine’s Day accommodation special running at your lodge that you would like to promote. A Google Ad campaign would be an ideal way to generate traffic to your site and increase bookings for this time sensitive promotion.

What’s the difference between SEO & Google Ads?

At SOMS we like to compare SEO and paid search to real estate. Your business or website is your home and investment. Think of your website as your home, and SEO as the maintenance for your home. Whatever work is carried out in your “home”, is seen as an investment and is yours to keep. If you were to rent a fancy apartment in Camps Bay, you’ll experience all the amazing benefits of being in the best location (traffic to your site) but once your lease is up, the apartment is no longer yours. In short, SEO is best for long-term strategy and paid search is best for short-term wins.

So, should you choose SEO or Paid Search?

Ultimately, it’s up to you which option is best for your business, as it depends on your business’ unique goals. In an an ideal world, we would use both tools to give you the best chance of bringing traffic to your website in the short term as well as the long-term. Our advice is to find a happy medium and use SEO to improve your website and gain organic rankings, and implement a Google Ad campaign to help boost traffic for any new specials, products or services.

Now that you know a little bit more about the difference between SEO and Google Ads, are you ready to create an awesome digital marketing campaign to take your business or brand to the next level? Good stuff!

Remember, if you need any help with SEO and Google Ads, you can count on us to assist with any queries you might have, and come up with a tailored strategy that meets your unique needs. We’ve got the skills, experience and tools for everything digital marketing related.

Contact the SOMS team on info@soms.co.za or call on +27 11 568 7419