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SEO Versus Google Ads For Local Business

Business owners often ask me if they should invest in Google Ads or Search Engine Optimization. While both can be great options for small and local businesses, there are times where one may be a better fit than another. In this blog post I want to address when you should be focusing on SEO versus Google Ads.

Search Engine Optimization Advantages

Search Engine Optimization is my favorite traffic source because you can generate thousands of visitors per month on autopilot without spending a dime. There’s no other free traffic source like it. Time or money put into SEO today can continue to pay off for weeks, months, and even years.

Additionally, it’s a less “spammy” marketing strategy. Instead of interrupting people with ads, they are actively seeking you out. This makes Search Engine Optimization less intrusive and creates positive feelings around your brand, product, or service.

The Return On Investment (ROI) For SEO

SEO has an incredibly high ROI, especially if you’re only investing time and not money. Now don’t get me wrong – Search Engine Optimization can be outsourced and some business owners opt to have it done that way as they don’t have time for it. However, even then it doesn’t cost a lot to pay a team member to spend an hour or two writing a piece of content.

If that piece of content brings 100 pageviews per month, that’s 1,200 pageviews per year. Assuming 5% of those visitors convert into paying customers that equates to 60 new customers. 1,000 clicks would cost roughly around $500 – $2,000 depending on your cost per click (CPC) if you were using paid traffic. You are now getting $500+ worth of paid traffic free on autopilot without having to do anything. 

This is why SEO has an insane ROI!

Investing Your Time

SEO requires a large time investment over a long period. It doesn’t matter if you are doing your SEO or outsourcing it – Google wants continuous content to be published. (More on this in a moment.)

If you aren’t in a position where you or someone else can invest at least 2 hours a day for your company’s SEO efforts – this may not be the option for you. Especially when you are first optimizing your website to rank, there is a certain amount of work that needs to be done.

Investing Time With SEO

Content Is King

Once your website has the essential optimizations done, 99% of SEO boils down to creating content like the blog post you are reading right now. You need to be answering questions in your target marketing and driving prospects into your website. Writing high quality content takes time and in the beginning it can be overwhelming.

It’s important to understand what SEO is really about before driving head first into it, especially if you have other traffic options on the table. 

I cover this more in Content Shinobi, which teaches content creation for SEO step by step.

SEO Has A Snowball Effect

One of the best things about SEO is the snowball effect. As you create content over time, your website authority raises with Google. Let me use an example to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Let’s say you have 10 blog posts published on your site. Each of these posts brings in 10 visitors a month. So in total you have 100 visitors per month coming to your website from Google.

Now pretend you have 100 blog posts. Because your website has more content, instead of each piece of content bringing in 10 visitors, now they bring in 25 each. This means that instead of getting 1,000 visitors per month, you’re receiving 2,500 visitors per month. This is the power of the SEO snowball effect, or as I like to call it the compounding effect with Search Engine Optimization.

Google Ads Advantages

Sometimes paid traffic is preferred because you can start driving traffic in as little as an hour after pushing a button. This is the biggest advantage Google Ads has over SEO. Search Engine Optimization takes a while to get going and sometimes you have to wait 6 months to a year to even see results.

As long as you have your budget and tracking on point, you can generate a predictable amount of clicks every day to your website. With SEO there is no way to guarantee the amount of clicks you receive.

You Need To Be Okay Losing Some Money

When it comes to Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, you need to be okay losing some money to test. In the beginning, you are not going to have accurate targeting and it takes burning through some capital to get your campaigns to profitable. 

This also requires testing. It can be an intense time trying to push things to make profit as you are spending hundreds of dollars per day.

It’s All About The Ads

Ad networks really care about CTR (click thru rate). The higher your CTR is, the lower your cost per click is. This means you really have to dial in your ads and write ads that get people to click. It can take some trial and error testing different copy, seeing what gets people to click.

Relevance is also really important here. Google Ads looks for text that directly correlates with what the searcher is typing in. It even tells you in the dashboard to make sure you include the keyword in the ad heading and description. 

Google Ads Headline Keyword Optimization
Google Ads edit ad screen – recommending adding keywords in headlines

Your Website Can Make It Or Break It

Even if you aren’t spending a lot per click, your webpages may not convert visitors into paying customers. 99% of paid traffic campaigns start not profitable. Usually your website requires split testing or tweaking to get your funnel in the green.

For non tech-savvy business owners, or if you are a small business with a small team…this can be difficult to execute. Companies that spend a lot with paid traffic gather data and optimize pages for conversions over time.

Investing Your Money

If you don’t have at least $1,000 a month to invest in paid traffic, Google Ads may not be the option for you. Keep in mind you also need to spend some money in the beginning to test and gather data. If you have a small budget, SEO may be a better option in the long run.

Google Ads Has Predictability

One of the greatest strengths of paid traffic in general is predictability. If you are able to tweak a campaign to be profitable, you can wake up in the morning and know with certainty the amount you are going to spend today, how many clicks it’s going to bring, and how much money you are going to make.

This is not the case with SEO, and you have much more control with Google Ads.


At the end of the day, both Search Engine Optimization and Google Ads have advantages and disadvantages. It ultimately comes down to what position you are in as a business owner, and if you would rather invest time compared to money. Keep in mind it will take a while to see any return on SEO, especially in the beginning.

Google Ads can give you direct feedback right away, but at a hefty cost…especially if your targeting or website is off and you aren’t converting visitors.

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About The Author


Google Ads, PPC, Search Engine Optimization, seo

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