seo or google ads SEO or Google Ads?

So, as I’m sure you’ll be aware, there are only two ways to get to the top of those search engine results. Pay Google or do it organically.

But what method is right for your business right now?

Well before we explore this somewhat misleading question, let’s quickly summarise the pros and cons of each.

Doing it Organically (SEO)

Or organic SEO to be more precise – is a far longer process that involves building relevance and authority over time. This invariably involves a website audit, keyword research and strategy building, along with the creation of a lot of content, as well as link building. 


  • Once you’re at the top, you don’t pay Google for every click to your website and you won’t disappear if you suddenly withdraw investment in your SEO (although we wouldn’t recommend it). 
  • Searchers tend to trust organic listings a lot more than ads and studies consistently show users are much more likely to click on them (39.6% in position 1 of organic compared to just 2.1% for the top Ad according to this study).
  • Traffic to your website is organic, which tends to lead to higher engagement and lower abandonment than paid traffic. This means more conversions and, ultimately a better ROI.
  • SEO, done right, results in continuous, long-term traffic even after your focused digital marketing campaign is over and is in maintenance mode. With PPC you will have to keep maintaining the same levels of investment into the campaign to keep getting those clicks.


  • The results can take time to materialise. Depending on how much authority your website has already built, your industry and competitor activity, this can take a while (as long as 6-12 months, sometimes even longer).
  • It’s more work and therefore more investment is needed to make headway. This is the number one reason that puts most people off and – as a result – attracts them to sticking with Google Ads.
  • You are at the mercy of Google’s ever-changing algorithm, and updates can suddenly affect your ranking negatively (as well as positively of course). So staying on top of these and reacting quickly to them, by constantly tweaking your tactics, is ongoing work you will always have to invest in.

Paying Google (PPC)

That is to say, pay per click, where you set a budget and pay Google for clicks on your Ads. And when I say Google Ads I’m including Google Shopping and remarketing in this. 


  • This is a switch on / switch off service which means you can start generating traffic and revenue almost immediately. 
  • You get to avoid a lot of the hard graft that goes into getting results with organic SEO (although crafting decent landing pages is still a necessity to maximise conversions). 
  • It’s pretty easy to work out your return on investment from the get-go. 
  • You can laser target specific audiences with specific queries. 
  • Your ads aren’t limited to the highly competitive confines of Google’s SERPs, as they can appear as display ads on relevant websites that are part of the Google Display Network.


  • Google Ads are very much a short to medium term strategy as they require a constant stream of investment in order to keep your Ads live. It’s far from a cost efficient strategy in the long run when compared to the potential ROI from organic SEO. 
  • As we’ve discussed, click through rates (CTR) on Google Ads are much lower than those of the organic results. 
  • Poorly optimised Ads campaigns are commonplace, so without an agency on board, this could mean you’re giving a lot of unnecessary money to Google (who already have far too much money).

So back to our million dollar question – organic SEO or Google Ads?

Well the answer is almost always, both! (Bet you knew I’d say that).

The thing is…PPC and SEO are basically a marriage made in heaven. From sharing PPC insights for SEO keyword strategy, to optimising landing pages for both ads and organic, there are numerous economies of scale and powerful synergies to be achieved from leveraging both simultaneously.

Perhaps most importantly though, is having your website appear in both Ads and the organic listings. This means more screen real estate and a much higher level of brand presence in the search results. And presence really is what this game is all about.

As I like to say as well, why have one bite of the pie when you can have two.

The Integrated Method

There are many ways SEO and PPC can synergise to deliver optimal results, rather than just settling on doing only one or the other.

PPC Keywords for SEO-Optimised Content

Keyword selection is fundamental to running a PPC campaign, and you gain valuable insight regarding user intent from how many conversions certain keywords get from your PPC campaigns. This is extremely good intel for organic SEO strategy building. Knowing what keywords convert, you can build and optimise your content around these keywords.

SEO Keywords for PPC Campaign Bids

On the flipside of keyword usage, the data you’ve gathered from doing research to identify top-performing keywords for your organic SEO campaign is a goldmine of potential keywords to bid on for your PPC campaign. 

Keywords for Traffic and Keywords for Conversions

Not all high-traffic keywords result in sales, and not all high-converting keywords will rank high and generate a ton of traffic. You can use keywords that drive traffic but don’t convert for organic SEO campaigns where the strategy is more about just getting people onto your site first (think of this as more ‘awareness’ or ‘educational’ searches). For those low-traffic, but conversion-generating keywords, these you can use for PPC campaigns.


Remarketing via Google Ads is a powerful tactic, as it increases awareness and builds brand affinity in audiences who have already visited your site organically. People who’ve been to your site through SEO-driven organic search results are interested in what you’re offering. They may just need a nudge or reminder to come back to your site to complete a purchase. Remarketing does that for you, as your PPC ads will show up on other websites they visit.

SERP Saturation and Trust

Having both the top results for paid search and organic search on Google’s SERPs erases any doubts from users that your content and your products are the real deal. This is only possible when you work on both your PPC and SEO strategies. Having your brand name dominating more screen real estate gives a powerful impression that will engender trust in your company and products / services.

When to use SEO and when to use PPC

There are situations where you would need to focus on either SEO or PPC. Here are some examples that best fit each strategy.


Consistency and Longevity

If you are looking to get consistent results over a long period with great ROI, you want to put your efforts into SEO. The work you do to build quality content and improve your site’s user experience will keep paying off even long after the initial push for your campaign. Review and refresh your tactics as necessary, and you’ll be keeping your spot at the top of the SERPs for quite some time.

Relevancy and Authority

The research you do for SEO fuels your content creation strategy, and it’s quality content optimised for search that will put your brand on the map, both for people looking for valuable resources and for Google looking to serve such content to its users. Once your brand is established, even just seeing your website’s name and URL on a link or search result will get people to click. Organic SEO really is the first step in building a genuinely recognisable digital brand.


Instant Results

When you need to get visitors as fast as possible to your website, PPC is the way to go. Your ads will show up on Google’s SERPs and their partner sites as soon as your campaign gets the green light from Google Ads, and the potential audience can be as huge as your click budget is willing to go. It’s perfect for product launches and time-sensitive promotions. 

High-Converting Niches

Ad platforms like Google Ads let you target highly specific audience segments. You can customise who to serve your ads to with parameters like age, gender, income, and marital status. With enough research, you can find out which levers to pull to find the right demographic that may not be the biggest but is more than willing to engage with your content and spend on your products. 

Doing SEO and PPC with Superb Digital

Of course, marketing budget is a huge factor in all of this and a lot of small companies are worried about investing four figure sums into what they may see as a risky venture (especially in times of recession which we seem to be heading towards).

This is why investing in PPC service and then reinvesting the increase in revenue generated from this back into organic SEO just makes so much sense to businesses who can’t afford to do both from day one. The switch on / switch off nature of Google Ads means we can get our clients generating a really good return on their investment very quickly, which they then funnel back into their organic SEO campaign, which has a far longer gestation period.

In most cases, the return you can make on a well optimised Google Ads campaign can fund the retainer of an organic SEO campaign several times over. By making SEO a cost neutral investment in this way, you can effectively self-fund your long term digital marketing strategy, at least in the early months and years, for free.

This is how really forward thinking digital businesses create a shit load of revenue in their first couple of years, compared to their more cautious or digitally unsavvy competitors. I’ve seen it happen many times. 

This could be your business if you’re willing to properly reinvest PPC profits into a long term organic SEO strategy. Not only do the two channels work perfectly together as we’ve seen, but they also complement each other at the tactical and strategic levels. 
So, whether you’re ready to throw the kitchen sink at this, or just want to dip your toe in the water with Google Ads for a proof of concept, why not book a strategy call with us today and we can have a chat.