What is the Difference between SEO and Google Ads?

Published On: 23 March 2023

A question we are often asked by our clients is, “Which is better: SEO or Google Ads?. This is clearly not a question with a general answer, as it truly depends on your current situation, objectives and marketplace. 

To help you understand the online marketing landscape and make an informed decision, we are going to look at both SEO and Google Ads as an online marketing strategy, along with the differences between Google ads and SEO. 

What Is SEO 

What is SEO


Search engine optimization (SEO) is an act of optimizing your website and its content, to achieve the best possible ranking in Google’s search engine results page (SERP) without any paid advertisement. 

Whenever a user conducts a search, the search engine matches their query with relevant web pages that will satisfy the user’s intent. 

You must use optimization techniques, like keywords relevant to your business in your website content. Doing this will help your business appear in the top search engine results. Using relevant internal links to connect your web pages with each other is also a good optimization technique. 

A well-optimized webpage will increase traffic for your site, which will ultimately increase your ranking in SERP leading to an increase in conversions and sales.

Why Invest in SEO? 

If someone is unable to find your company on Google or Bing, chances are they aren’t going to call to make a purchase or for any relevant inquiry.  

Let’s say you own a hair salon in Brantford. Go to Google.com and type in a generic search like hair salons in Brantford, and start scrolling down the page. Do you see your website or any webpage of your business listed on the first page of the SERP? Or do you see anything related to your business at all? 

You might rank for some common keywords that are related to your business, but you will not rank for all the keywords that are relevant to your business (and there are a lot of them). 

The goal of an SEO campaign is to increase your website authority for the business you are in, and ensure you rank on the first page for as many relevant keywords as possible. 

How Does SEO Work? 

When a user types a search query in the search bar, Google does an inventory of all of the web pages it has on file. It looks for the websites that have the most relevant information and presents those to the user.  

For a page on your website to rank for a search term, it needs to be easily readable by Google, and have relevant content and a good reputation or domain authority.   

For SEO to work, you must optimize your website based on these key factors: 

1. Keyword Selection: To help your business rank in the right search results, you need to choose relevant keywords for your page and business. Google will rank your page based on the keywords you select, so you’ll want to use keywords related to the topic of your page to help you appear and rank in relevant queries. 

2. Content Quality: Google wants to direct users to high-quality content that provides them with the information they need. When you have long, informative content, Google is more likely to rank your website higher in the search results. A high-quality, lengthy piece of content like blogs, will keep users on your website longer, boosting engagement and sending positive signals to Google about your page. 

3. Site Security: Personal information security and privacy are rising concerns for Internet browsers, and Google has noticed, so it’s vital to encrypt the information on your site using an SSL certificate. 

4. User Experience: Google will promote sites that offer a positive and easy-to-use experience. You must focus on enhancing the user experience on your site, so leads will remain on it longer and help improve your ranking.  

5. Mobile-Friendliness: Google has been pushing mobile responsive design over the last couple of years due to the rise of mobile web browsing. Responsive design is important because it helps users view your site on any mobile device and even tablets. Since Google moved to a mobile-first indexing system, you need to have a mobile-friendly site to rank well in search results. 

6. Web Page Speed: Users want information fast and if you have a slow-loading site, you’re not going to rank well in the search engine results. Your website and webpages must load quickly, or users will bounce from your page, hurting your ranking. 

What Are Google Ads? 

Every second, there are 5.6 billion daily searches performed on Google, and the majority of search results pages include Google ads. 

Paid for by businesses, Google ads can be an extremely effective way of driving relevant and qualified traffic to your website, especially when people are searching for the types of products or services your business offers. 

Google ads


Google AdWords (also known as pay-per-click) is a platform run by Google that allows companies to advertise their website in search results when a user searches for a specific keyword. For example, someone looking for men’s black boots will see these ads in the search results, known as shopping ads. 

Advertisers “pay per click” on their advertisements. These ads show on the top of the search results page, as well as on the side of the search results depending on the search being initiated. 

How Do Google Ads Work? 

Advertisers pay per click on their advertisement. You set the rules. Choose a daily budget, the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a click on your ad, and the keywords you want your ad to show. 

Your daily budget and maximum bid will decide where on the page your ad will show and how often you show it each day. 

Why Invest in Google Ads? 

If you set up a Google Adwords account and set a substantial bid, you guarantee that your ad will show when a user searches for the specific keyword you choose to bid on. This can help give you more direct control over total traffic to your website. 

AdWords can also be helpful for getting the word out about new services you have started or any special offers that you are running. 

Difference Between SEO & Google Ads  

SEO and Google Ads focus on helping you increase relevant traffic to your site and generate more leads that convert.  

Let’s take a look at SEO vs. Google Ads to see how these strategies compare with each other through a well organized and simplified table by WebFx: 


SEO vs Google ads


To conclude, invest in SEO to help boost your website’s overall ranking in SERP. Use Google AdWords to help boost traffic, get the word out about new specials and products or services, and ensure your ad shows for those competitive keywords. 

Now you know the answer to SEO vs. Google Ads; Investing in both SEO and Google Ads will help you grow your business online, which is definitely the need of the hour. 


Ready to get started? Or still have questions about the value that SEO and Google Ads can bring to your business? Contact our team of social media marketing professionals in Brantford today to get started on an online marketing strategy to grow your business in 2021.