Google Ads and SEO: Do I need to do both?

We are often asked whether focus should be placed on Google Ads or Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Both can help drive visitors to your website. As with any marketing strategy question, the answer varies with the goal of the business, the resources available and the target market. However, most often, the answer is both should be addressed. Let’s start with a comparison between Google Ads and SEO in regards to two important factors: timing and investment.

Google ads and SEO
Example of a Google Search Ad and an organic result driven by SEO.

Timing: Immediate vs Over Time

Google Ads are a wonderful tool to immediately start growing brand awareness and generating leads and/or sales. Display ads can start ‘priming the pump,’ showing around the web to interest or intention-based audiences. Video ads can entice viewers to learn more. Search ads can ensure your business is front-of-mind when someone is looking for a product or service. Local ads can inform people looking for a business nearby that you’re there to serve them. These programs can launch as quickly as you or your marketing partner can create the strategy, audiences and ads. We’ve launched campaigns in as little as a week, for example, increasing traffic and interest in a very short timeframe.

SEO, on the other hand, takes more time to show results. Some web users see organic results as more reliable than ads, however, which is why gaining a page 1 spot on Google organic search is a dream of just about every website owner.

Investment: Ongoing vs Tapered

When it comes to cost, if you’re engaging a Google Ads specialist, you’ll invest in a strategy, ads development and audience creation. This is a smart investment, as proper set up and strategy will save you in Cost Per Click (CPC) costs when your ads have good quality and relevancy scores. After that, Google Ads are set to run with a daily maximum budget. If you’re running Google Ads, you will always have ongoing ads expenses, but you’ll also have guaranteed placement in front of your desired audience.

SEO requires an initial investment in keyphrase and competitor research as well as installation. It’s likely you’ll need to also address your site health, as Google prefers sites that have minimal errors. The process of optimization and building towards the best organic search placement possible takes time, but the investment can lead to ‘free’ organic visits and interest well after optimizations end.

Now let’s talk about why you should consider running both Google Ads and addressing your SEO at the same time.

Create a branding and lead generation flow with Google Ads and SEO

By leveraging both Google Ads and SEO, you can build a strategy that starts from the beginning of the lead generation process and builds through to conversion. Let’s take a look at how that can work.

Let’s say you sell a tech product for the scientific industry. You want to make your target market aware of your brand, understand your differentiators, learn more about your offerings, and ultimately contact you for more information or to purchase. By setting up Google Display ads, we can deliver messaging to prospects based on their recent searches or interests. It may make sense to build an audience that includes people who are searching for other laboratory products or processes, within a radius around your location, for example. Then, if SEO is optimized and Google Search Ads are running, when the prospect goes to Google to find the product you offer, you can show up on results as an ad and in the organic results, maximizing the real estate your business takes on the search results, and hopefully inspires a click through to your site. If Google Remarketing ads are set up, after the visitor leaves your site, they’ll be reminded of your offering in ads around the web, keeping you front of mind.

google ads and seo
This graphic shows when a potential visitor sees your brand.

While this is a general and simplified example, the takeaway is an effective process can be built with these two strategies. By creating desire and building brand recognition through showing up at the point when a prospect is ready to buy, then automatically proactively following up after a site visit, you create a strategic and holistic lead generation process.

Ultimately, every business is different. If you have questions about your specific situation, drop us a note.

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