SEO or Google Ads, Which is Best for Growing Your Business?

by Paul Lee | SEO Expert

Understanding the right tools for the right job.

We’ve been asked the same question a lot: “Should I run Google Ads? Or should I do SEO?” The answer is YES.

It’s not an either/or situation, it’s more of a both/and. They aren’t mutually exclusive strategies, in fact, it’s much more strategic to use them together to achieve your business goals. Let’s break each of them down and then see how we can get both SEO and Google Ads to play nicely together.

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads (or PPC ads) are all over the internet. You see them on Facebook, Instagram, and of course Google search results pages. They are in theory simple to set up, but they require skill to optimize and truly get the most out of your investment.

Done right, Google Ads bring attention to your business. Maybe you’re a newly launched company, or you’ve started a new service that people aren’t even aware exists, so how can they search for it? Google ads are what you need. By targeting the right demographics or interests or web-viewing history, you can reach a huge pool of people that might be interested in your product. They click, they see your amazing website (it IS amazing, right? If not, talk to us), and then they’re customers for life. Ok, maybe that’s optimistic and skipping some steps, but you get the picture.

Once you’ve dialed in your audience and you’ve tested and refined your ads (you ARE testing and refining your ads based on data, aren’t you?), then you can increase ad spend and see even more leads. If you’re spending $1 to make $3, then keep it up. It’s that simple.

And… at the same time, it’s way more complicated to do than to say. It can take a lot of time and experimentation and therefore money to get that combination of audience and message perfect. Ads don’t always work, and it’s sometimes hard to say exactly why that is.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is simply doing the right things consistently over a long period of time to improve your search rankings in Google. It’s the art of teaching your website to talk to Google. When your site and Google are in sync, it means you get more people who are searching for what you offer. Those searchers find you, and BOOM, customers for life.

Studies show organic searchers spend more time on your website, look at more pages, and convert at a higher rate than virtually any other kind of traffic. The only exception is returning customers, direct traffic who head straight to your site without the need to search for it. Therefore, we want organic traffic. The return on investment is fantastic.

However, as Pee-Wee Herman said, “I feel like everyone has a big BUT.” For SEO, it’s “BUT the results take time.” You can have a great strategy with flawless follow-through, and it still might take up to a year to move the needle. If your competitors are working as hard as you are, it might take even more. Particularly for a newly established business, sitting around for a year to see your search rankings rise probably isn’t a good idea. It’s still worth doing, but it’s not going to change the game instantly.

So how do we make these two very different tools work together?

SEO and Google Ads: Towards a Unified Marketing Strategy

What if you used Google ads for what it’s best at, and used SEO for what it’s best at? Both have a place and a role and a function. Use them!

Starting something new? Run Google ads to build awareness. At the same time, start your SEO strategy. The SEO efforts will pay off long-term, and you may reach a time where you can scale back your digital ad spend or direct it differently. But in the meantime, the ads are drawing in new customers and feeding your sales funnel. You can increase your Google spend for seasonality or when you find an ad that really connects. And at the same time, your SEO efforts will be chugging along, building authority and trustworthiness with organic searchers.

Even better, here’s where we start to find the synchronicity of the two tools working in tandem. When you do Google advertising, Google “pulls back the curtain” and shows you the exact search phrases people are using when they are shown your ad. You can tell how many searched using the same phrase, what percentage clicked, and what percentage converted. Use that knowledge to further refine your SEO tactics. Rather than guessing, you’ll have insider info that will help immensely.

Reject the False Binary

You aren’t being given a binary choice of digital ads or SEO. You’re being given a tool chest with two very powerful tools in it. Use them correctly, and you’ll see results.

Of course, given their complexity and the high stakes around their usage, these tools aren’t necessarily for the faint of heart. These are tools that are best understood and employed by professionals. Talk to us about how to utilize Google Ads and SEO in the best possible way. Together.

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