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Google Ads vs SEO: What’s the Difference?

I love helping business owners get visible online with both Google Ads and Search Engine Optimation (SEO), but I also see many business owners think that these two things are the same. While both are essential for getting your business visible online, they are definitely different and each serves a different and unique purpose. Learn the difference between Google Ads vs SEO below.

What’s the difference between Google Ads and SEO?

SEO allows you to use the terms and keywords your prospective clients are searching for, so they see your business when they search. The goal of SEO is for your business, whether it’s a specific page or blog post, to show up on the first page of the Google search, which increases the likelihood that you will get traffic to your website.

The benefits of SEO are that it is completely FREE and is best for your return on investment. However, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, and can take time for you to show up on the first page of the search.

My goal with my SEO clients is to help them optimize their websites and keywords to get them on the first page of the Google search.

Google Ads allows you to optimize those keywords that are being searched for so that you automatically show up on the first page of the Google search. However, Google Ads requires you to “pay to play.” In order for your business to be visible when those keywords are being searched for and automatically show up, you have to spend money on those ads.

The downfall of Google Ads is it can be extremely costly if you don’t know what you’re doing.

5 Google Ads Facts

1. Google Ads is Google’s pay per click advertising option. 

2. There are 4 primary networks – the search network (these results appear on search results pages above organic results), the display network (the graphic ads you see as you visit different pages on the web), the Shopping network, and YouTube.  We are mainly talking about the search network this month. 

3. Unlike SEO which can take time to show up on the first page, with the right budget, your ads could show up on the first page the day you start your campaign. 

4. Negative keywords can potentially be more important than the keywords you bid on. 

5. Google Ads allows you to show up when someone is searching for the product or service you sell.  They are already interested.    

5 SEO Facts

1. SEO (search engine optimization) refers to the organic listings in Google search results.  These are free or unpaid listings (although you might pay someone to help you rank).  There are typically anywhere from 5-10 organic listings on the first page of a search result. 

2. The search engine algorithm has over 200 factors so when someone says “that’s a ranking factor” it most likely is.  Rumor has it no one person knows all 200 factors (even those that work at Google).  

3. The biggest factors at the moment are mobile-friendly sites and site speed/performance.  Making your site as fast as possible (Google likes under 2.5 seconds) and as easy to use as possible should be your #1 priority.  Google just introduced Core Web Vitals to Google Search Console to help you determine how your site is performing.  

4. Next up comes content.  You need content around your subject matter that is optimized for search engines.  This signals to Google that you are the subject matter expert.  Do you need to blog daily?  Nope.  Would I recommend at least 1 blog a month?  Absolutely.  

5. Even if you rank #1 organically, you might not appear at the top of a results page.  Why?  There could be Google Ads that appear before you (as well as featured snippets, map listings, etc.).  But appearing on the first page is the best way to get traffic to your site as 75% of people never visit the 2nd page of search results.  

and a bonus #6 – SEO is a long-term game and ultimately will provide the best ROI.  But it is like a never-ending marathon.  You have to start to be in the game, and then you can’t ever stop.  

So, which is best for YOUR business?

It depends on your business goals, your budget, if you want it done for you or to DIY it, and your niche.

Google Ads vs SEO – which do you think would work best for your business?  If you want to chat about the best option for your business, set up a 15-minute Discovery Call and we can figure out the best fit for your business!

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1 year ago

Thank you for making those distinctions. That is incredible helpful!

About Me

Welcome! My name is Glenneth and I live in beautiful East Tennessee. I wear many hats: CEO of The Visibility Method, SEO & Google Ads Expert, content creator, and more. I love technology, social media, and weight lifting. My favorite place to hang out is the hammock in my backyard. My favorite colors are pink and orange. My favorite team is the Vols. And I LOVE to get email so please drop me a note and say hi!


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