How to Choose Between SEO and Google Ads for Maximum ROI

As a business owner or marketer, generating quality leads and driving maximum return on investment (ROI) are two of your most important goals.

In the digital marketing landscape, two popular strategies commonly used are search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads.

These strategies can both significantly improve your online presence, but they do so in very different ways.

This guide will help you understand the benefits, drawbacks, and costs of each option to make the best decision for your business and product.

What is SEO?

SEO is the process of optimising your website so that it ranks higher on search engine results pages (SERPs), particularly on Google. Higher rankings can lead to increased organic (non-paid) traffic to your website. The main components of a successful SEO strategy include:

  • On-page optimisation: Ensuring your website has high-quality, relevant content and follows best practices for page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and URL structure.
  • Off-page optimisation: Building inbound links from other reputable websites to improve authority and trust.
  • Technical SEO: Ensuring your site loads quickly, supports mobile devices, has a clean site structure, and uses the appropriate schema markup.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) is Google’s online advertising platform that allows businesses to create and deliver targeted ads displayed on SERPs and Google Display Network.

Through Google Ads, you pay to have your website and products appear on relevant search results or web pages quickly.

These ads typically appear at the top or bottom of search results and sometimes on the sidebars of websites.

Benefits & Drawbacks of SEO and Google Ads

Both SEO and Google Ads offer unique strengths and benefits. Here are some key differences to consider:



  • Generates organic (non-paid) traffic, which can be more sustainable in the long run.
  • Builds brand credibility and trust, as users generally perceive higher organic rankings as more reputable.
  • Long-term stability: SEO improvements can yield lasting results.


  • Can be a slow, gradual process. Results may not be apparent for several months.
  • Requires ongoing maintenance and continuous optimisation.

Google Ads:


  • Immediate visibility. Your ads can appear on the top of SERPs or relevant websites within hours.
  • Highly targeted. Google Ads allows you to target specific keywords, locations, device types, and more.
  • Easily measurable results to optimise ad performance.


  • Can be expensive, especially in competitive industries.
  • Ads are perceived as less trustworthy than organic results.
  • If the ad budget is not maintained, your ad presence can disappear abruptly.

Prices & ROI

Both SEO and Google Ads require an investment but have different pricing models.

SEO: The cost of SEO can vary widely depending on the complexity of your website, target keywords, and competition. Investing in SEO often involves hiring experts or an agency to optimise your website. The ROI from SEO can be significant, especially when considering the long-term value of increased organic traffic.

Google Ads: With Google Ads, you pay for every click on your ads (cost-per-click or ‘CPC’). The CPC varies depending on your target audience and industry competition. Your ROI will depend on the effectiveness of your campaigns, including ad copy, keyword selection, and landing page optimisation. It’s essential to monitor and optimise your campaigns continually.

How to Allocate Resources

The best approach will depend on your business goals, timeline, and budget. Here are some factors to consider:

  • If you have a new website or product and want immediate visibility, investing in Google Ads may be the best option.
  • If you’re looking for a long-term solution that can lead to sustainable organic traffic, SEO is a better choice.
  • A combination of both strategies can also be effective. For example, using Google Ads to drive immediate traffic while investing in SEO for long-term growth.
  • Consider your target audience and their behavior. Some user demographics may be more likely to click on paid ads than others.


SEO and Google Ads are both powerful digital marketing tools, but they have distinct advantages and drawbacks.

Ultimately, the best approach will depend on your business’s unique needs and goals. It’s essential to understand the differences between SEO and Google Ads to make an informed decision and maximize your ROI.

In some cases, a combination of both strategies can be beneficial for achieving your overall marketing objectives.

Remember to continually monitor and optimise your campaigns for the best results. So, businesses should carefully evaluate their options and resources before deciding on the best strategy to reach their target audience and achieve their goals.

With a well-planned approach and consistent effort, both SEO and Google Ads can be valuable assets in driving quality leads and achieving business success in the digital world.

So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find the right balance between SEO and Google Ads for your business.

Good luck!


Skip to content