Jan 16, 2024

What Are The Differences Between SEO And Google Ads

What Are The Differences Between SEO And Google Ads
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Search engines, like Google or Bing, are there to help people find what they’re looking for and, at the same time, generate profit - that’s directly or indirectly coming from these searches.

As a matter of fact, what a search engine does is show the most relevant information for your query among a vast range of online sources.

It’s your starting point (and often your end point) whenever a question pops up.

SEM, SEO & Ads

Online searches are a core part of daily life. In fact, new phrases like “I googled it” or “Let’s bing it” are added to dictionaries.

Search engines are a valuable tool for internet users and businesses alike.

Every search engine offers unique marketing opportunities to promote services, products, events, etc.

Search engine marketing (SEM) deals with paid ads and SEO.

All search engines have paid ads schemes. But Google Ads are the most popular worldwide.

Google currently accounts for 83.49% of the global desktop search market and more than 94% of mobile search market share.

These impressive numbers offer significant opportunities to organizations who want to market their services through the Google network - via paid ads (Google Ads) or high organic rankings (Search Engine Optimization).

SEO and Google Ads work in different ways but serve the same purpose: increase traffic to your website and boost sales.

Let’s have a closer look at each one separately.

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) incorporates various techniques that help your pages rank higher on search engines in order to drive more (relevant) traffic to your website.

In a few words, SEO enhances your appearance in organic results.

SEO aims to improve your pages’ visibility so that when people search for something related to your business, your content appears at the top of the list or at least on the first page of SERPs.

This allows users (prospects) to visit your website and eventually turn into leads and customers.

SEO agencies work on a website to optimize content relevance, link popularity (off-page SEO), and technical configuration.

By following such SEO principles, your webpages appear above those of your competitors, and they naturally become more popular for your desired search queries.

Page popularity is a positive sign for search engines that helps you rank even higher.

All in all, website SEO aims to offer a great user experience while incorporating various techniques for better rankings.

What Are Google Ads?

Google Ads follow the Pay Per Click (PPC) model, where you are charged each time a (unique) user clicks on your ad.

PPC ads are shown to users who search for keywords or topics you have indicated in the settings of your ad campaigns. Some people also call them SEO ads.

Google Ads help you get discovered by your target audience even before you attain a prominent spot in organic searches via SEO.

Today, the Google Ads platform offers a wide range of intelligent approaches to paid advertising.

Google employs AI and machine learning to identify and target potential customers based on the goals you have set: sales, leads, website traffic, awareness, etc.

High-performing ads must combine a pleasant user experience, optimized content, and appropriate bidding strategies.

Google promotes quality ads by offering them better positioning for a lower cost.

There are also various tools you can use to optimize your PPC ads, such as automated campaigns that include Performance Max and advanced keyword targeting features that help your ads show for expanded queries.

Digital marketers must consider numerous options and apply a variety of techniques to help a business increase conversions and profit via Google Ads.

SEO vs Google Ads: What’s The Difference?

Google Ads and SEO aim to drive targeted traffic to your website.

Businesswise, they both try to get your brand in front of prospective customers in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

However, there are some key differences when it comes to Google Ads vs. SEO:

  • Google Ads are paid advertising. If they are set up right, they can offer high rankings for your most competitive keywords in a short amount of time.

An effective PPC campaign requires some time and effort to set it up for success. But after that, you just need to periodically monitor it and make selective adjustments to help your campaign reach its full potential.

On the other hand, SEO typically takes more time and careful planning to rank you high for your top SEO keywords - depending on your industry and competition.

But every website is different, so times can vary considerably.

Successful SEO includes continuous maintenance and improvement and competitor analysis on a regular basis.

Obviously, SEO also comes at a price - your monthly fees to your SEO agency. However, search engines themselves do not charge for high organic rankings.

  • A sound SEO strategy works from the inside out.

It first seeks to establish topical authority and then strategically optimizes different pages of your website for specific search queries (short keywords and/or long-tail keywords.)

In Google Ads, there is virtually no limit on the number of keywords you can target fast and effectively, as long as they are relevant to your landing page(s).

PPC ads work from the outside in, sort of say.

  • Google Ads can offer you the first place in search results but not position zero, i.e., featured results at the very top of SERPs.

Position zero is reserved for online sources that, according to Google, illustrate the most complete and reliable answer to a user query.

Users can quickly see a comprehensive answer without the need to click anywhere else for more.

This is why they are called zero click searches. And they can only be attained via a thoughtful SEO strategy.

  • Google Ads are also used for short-term advertising, to promote special offers, time-specific events, etc. However, short-term ads work best when set within a successful campaign that’s been running for a few months already.

On the other hand, SEO brings consistent, organic results and high rankings that last in time.

  • PPC ads rank your pages fast, but this ephemeral positioning stops as soon as you stop paying (or when you turn off your ads).

SEO is playing the long game. It builds lasting authority, loyal visitors, and brand credibility.

Depending on your niche and competition, high organic rankings often stay with you for quite some time - even if you stop working on your SEO.

Despite their different approach, SEO and Google Ads can benefit one another when used properly.

Note that paid ads and organic rankings in Google don’t have an algorithmic impact on each other. So, increasing your ad budget will not account for higher organic rankings - or vice versa.

How Do Google Ads Help SEO?

A smart marketer can find various ways to use Google Ads in favor of SEO.

Test User Response

You can use Google Ads to run fast and practical tests for your next SEO moves.

For example, you can test keywords and their landing pages to check if they are worth optimizing for organic SEO.

You can also discover which keywords bring the highest engagement and conversions and prioritize them in your SEO list.

Increase Visibility

Google Ads can effectively complement your organic SEO strategy for important keywords you do not yet rank for.

Instead of letting your competition take the lead, you can quickly show up for your top keywords or some highly competitive keywords with PPC ads - if the costs make sense.

How Does SEO Help With Google Ads?

There are two key areas where SEO can help you leverage your Google Ads campaigns.

Optimize Landing Pages

Quality content is a key component in both SEO and Google Ads. As a result, SEO pages can simultaneously be optimized for high-performance ads.

Just like in SEO, landing page quality and relevance are crucial to succeed in Google Ads.

Take Advantage Of Data

Your SEO keyword research will help you find the right opportunities for paid ads.

Keywords with high search volume and high competition are usually not worth the time and resources for SEO optimization - at least not at the beginning.

On the other hand, they make great candidates for your paid ads campaigns.

SEO vs Google Ads: What’s The Best Option Right Now?

There’s a lot of debate on whether users have lost trust in paid ads and skip over them to click on organic results.

Many marketers see more conversions coming from organic rankings, while others found out that only 50% of users can tell the difference between a paid ad and an organic listing.

The truth is that SEO and Google Ads can efficiently work together to offer optimal results for your website and brand.

The key difference is that you can achieve top rankings by simply working on your website SEO. But not the other way around.

Paying for Google Ads without an optimized website is not a profitable solution. It can even have negative effects on your brand.

Imagine, for example, an ad leading to a page that takes ages to load. This translates to a bad user experience and a bunch of lost opportunities.

So, it’s always best to start working on your website SEO and then run your Google Ads.

When dealing with both at the same time, a balanced approach is the key.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to go about it:

Balancing SEO And Google Ads

1. Target The Same Keywords

Let’s illustrate this with a hands-on example by Joe Davis:

Say that a search ad brings you 2%-5% of your website traffic, which in turn earns X profit. If, on top of that, your organic rankings bring you an extra 10%-20% traffic, you will consequently be making an additional XXX profit.

It’s simple logic!

Using both organic and paid means to rank for the same keywords is a great combination to increase your profit and search engine visibility.

2. Invest In Your Brand Name

A common practice in Google Ads is bidding for your competitors' brand names.

So, don't be surprised if you google search your trade name and see your competition coming up first.

To defend your rightful place at the top, you can invest in paid ads and target your brand name and the brand names of competing businesses.

Playing it smart means staying on top.

Google Ads Or SEO?

Our experience shows that Google Ads should be used as part of an overall SEO strategy.

But if you want your website to stand the test of time and become a profitable marketing tool, you must constantly work on a detailed, data-driven SEO strategy.

Our team at Atropos Digital helps worldwide businesses find the right balance amidst their digital marketing efforts.

Atropos Premium SEO Services aim at quality and not quantity. We thus pave the way for your long-lasting success in the online arena. Contact us to find out more.

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