Which is best - Google Ads, or SEO?

First of all, know that neither avenue should be ruled out. Each one relates to a different area of the search results page (SERP).

Consider the following information and decide which suits your industry, website and budget. 

ROI - Return on Investment

Considering some of our clients pay as little as $100 a month for their ads, Google Ads seems affordable. But others have to pay right up to $1500 a month just to push a few sales through. This depends on the competing bids from other advertisers, because Google Ads pay-per-click prices are an auction.

Could you justify spending so much on advertising? Yes, because it is accountable advertising (you know instantly whether or not it was Google Ads that brought you the visitors and the sales) and is fully reported to you by Pioneer Websites. So it's a cost-per-click bid that you are risking in your cost-per-sale calculation and it doesn't take long to determine if it's viable or not.

SEO has a more complex ROI calculation, as the promotional work we put in now may not bring visitors for weeks, or even months. The good thing is, it will continue to bring visitors for years to come, so your ROI is a curve that can get incredibly viable after a few months of investment. In our experience, depending on your ticket price and SEO competition, six months of SEO is often enough to break through the investment barrier and into the profit zone, with the return curve continuing to steepen after that. Some industries are extremely competitive and offer little variation in keywords, so more could be required, but many established websites see an immediate increase in sales the first months after our campaign begins. See the how long should I pay for SEO? page for more insight.


Google Ads reports are sent to you monthly by Pioneer Websites, along with a graph and interpretation of your results.

However to determine which campaign is performing best in actual sales or acquisitions, you will need our monthly SEO report. This is based on data from several sources but primarily a Google Analytics installation which we interpret for you.

This allows us to tell you which sort of visitors actually bought products from your site - those from Google Ads or those from your SEO campaign, instantly giving you the knowledge you need to spend your marketing budget wisely.

AdWords and SEO results on a search engine results page

AdWords are in the red, SEO is for the green area.

Google Ads are required in some niches, but SEO brings long term return without continual expense.

Who Clicks What?

Many of our long term clients have found they actually make more sales through visitors from natural (organic) search listings, not Google Ads. That has led them to cut back on Google Ads expenditure, swap it over to SEO, and double their profit! There are two common reasons: 

  • A huge slice of traffic comes from long tail searches (searches that contain several words) without ads
  • Many people don't click ads because they don't trust them, knowing they're sponsored and not objective

Google Ads has an advantage in some markets however, and so a couple of our clients do not pay for SEO at all - only buying Google Ads advertising. This is sometimes the case where the searcher is in a hurry (like critical repair service industries) or are the CEO type that doesn't stop to look around.

Long Term Benefits

The scenario where no SEO is done and only Google Ads are bought is admittedly rare but has served some of our clients well - they just acknowledge that when they stop paying for ads, their visitors stop coming, instantly. 

By way of comparison, SEO builds your websites reputation and referral links in a permanent manner, so if you stop paying for SEO, visitors still come. This is the beautiful curve in ROI that comes from choosing a professional SEO service. Ads most often serve a great purpose for immediate leads, while waiting for SEO to take effect, so find out how long SEO will take and plan your marketing budget accordingly.

Your customer type might favour Google Ads over SEO, or vice versa. We'll help you find out.