Google Ads and SEO appear to serve the same purposes – both are used to engage and attract customers online. However, the benefits of each strategy differ a lot, with contrasting returns over the long term. More importantly, there is a stark difference in how each tactic is perceived by customers.

Both strategies can quickly eat up small marketing budgets and if you’re struggling to decide which one to focus on, BestSEOCompanies recently completed an interesting survey of roughly 500 search engine users and business owners. Companies and customers were asked about their thoughts on each strategy and which one they preferred. If you’d like some guidance on what to invest in, you’ll want to see the results.

Google Ads vs. SEO

Of those who had used SEO strategies, 87% of respondents rated them as effective, whilst 90% of those who used Google Ads said the same. Of the businesses surveyed, many rated SEO as “worthwhile”, “beneficial” and “important” for their website design, whereas Google Ads was described as “fair” and “simple”.

This makes sense since Google Ads is relatively simple and easy to use - unlike SEO, which is a far more ambiguous tactic, and which often takes a lot longer to take effect. The cost of Google Ads was also frequently mentioned.

So while both can be extremely effective, Google Ads is straightforward but costly. SEO, in contrast, is viewed as profitable but more challenging to implement on one's ecommerce website design.

Preferred strategies

If they had to pick one, nearly two-thirds of businesses would choose Google Ads over SEO, saying that users referred from Ads are more likely to convert. Additionally, many businesses prefer Google Ads because of its simplicity and ease of use.

Although SEO is far more sustainable and offers tremendous value, it is also a lot slower to take effect. Even if you spend money on SEO strategies, if you have the wrong team or focus on the wrong areas of your website design, that money will be completely wasted.

Search habits and perceptions

As expected, there were substantial differences in the clicks, with 84% of users clicking on organic search results. This is in contrast to sponsored shopping and search ads, which received 42% and 45% of clicks respectively.

79% of respondents found organic search results to be trustworthy, while just 46% of users trusted search ads. In terms of relevancy, 37% of users found organic search results appropriate for what they were looking for, while only a paltry 11% of users found search ads to be relevant.

The trust issue is a particular barrier for many companies that rely on paid search. If customers are unfamiliar with your brand, they will remain sceptical however many times they are exposed to your products.

What is also very interesting is the incredibly low relevancy of many search ads. Google has a real motivation to ensure that the ads they show are relevant and suitable; these low scores suggest they’re not exactly doing that great of a job.

Purchasing perceptions

When searching for product information, users would follow organic search results to an external website design 34% of the time, and search ads 15% of the time. When clicking the result to make a purchase, users would click organic search results 17% of the time, and search ads 8%.


Most businesses know that acquiring high organic search listings is advantageous. However, using Google Ads is infinitely easier and simpler to measure. What is interesting, however, are the huge variations in the trust and relevance of each strategy. If you do need to focus on over the other, you should take all of these factors into account, so you can identify the right solution for your company.

Are you searching for an affordable business website that gives you the best chance of ranking highly? Then get in touch with us at DotGO. We’ve been crafting amazing website designs for the last 17 years and we can help you create the most effective online presence.