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This is is a question that I get asked a lot. And with good reason. 

Small businesses often have limited resources, and that means limited cash flow. I get it. Yes, it would be ideal to be able to hire experts to manage your SEO, Facebook and Google Ads, but that isn’t the reality for many of us. 

Even if you are trying to teach yourself how to do everything, there are only so many hours in the day and so much bandwidth you have to learn new platforms. 

So. Being a Google Ads die-hard, you probably think I’m going to say you should invest in Google 100% of the time, over Facebook and SEO. Right? 

Wrong. 

Yes, Google Ads are great. However I don’t want you to sign up and starting spendin’ away if it isn’t the right thing for your individual business. 

You need to ask yourself a couple of questions and look at the pros and cons of each before making a decision what to invest in.

Google Ads vs SEO

Let me start by saying that SEO, definitely has a valuable and important place in the online world. 

However. SEO, or search engine optimisation, is often a long term game. Most experts agree that it takes between 4 to 6 months to start seeing results, and around 12 months to see a real impact. 

I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying someone upwards of $500 a month, I can’t afford to be waiting 12 months to see the pay-off.  
I remember when I was running my own online health food e-commerce business and I hired an SEO agency because that was “the thing I should do”. 
I paid the agency nearly $1k a month, and at the end of each month would get a report that looked like another language. And I didn’t see an uptick in sales. After 6 months I cancelled the service because I didn’t see any value.

Another thing about SEO is that there are usually four paid ads sitting on top of the organic results, plus some more product listing ads (PLAs). So this means that even if you are dominating the organic search results, sometimes you won’t even be seen ‘above the fold’ and users will have to scroll down just to see your result. Your competitors can run an ad and, just like that, they will trample all your SEO good work and appear above you. 

And to those people that say “I don’t click on Google Ads, I don’t think they’re worth paying for”. That’s ok…. you might not click on them, but research has shown that over two thirds (65%) of clicks from someone looking to buy are on sponsored ads. 

SEO may dominate with information based search queries, but typically we don’t want to pay for those “what is the best…” type of searches anyway as they have low conversion rates. 

Another real tick for Google Ads over SEO is it is measurable. You can clearly see how much return (revenue or leads) you have gotten from your investment (ad spend). One of the best things about Google Ads is each month you can say, I spent $X on ads, and I got $X back. That is pretty powerful stuff. 

You are able to directly measure the impact that Google Ads has on your business. 

SEO is incredibly difficult to measure. If you spend $1k each month on SEO management, how many dollars did you get back? Impossible right? I would much rather invest in Google Ads where I can begin to see immediate returns and be able to measure the direct impact it has had on my business. 

Verdict – SEO or Google Ads? 

Google Ads 100% of the time in my book.

Google Ads vs Facebook

Now, this is a bit of a trickier one to answer. 

It’s quite common for there to be a “Google Ads vs Facebook Ads” competition mentality and those that specialise in Google Ads think that Facebook Ads is a waste of time. 

I’m here to tell you that I love Facebook ads! I use them in my business and they are a powerful and effective way to grow. 

My preference would be to use Facebook and Google as complementary marketing platforms, but when resources are limited and cash flow is tight, that’s often not feasible. 

So, it really just comes down to what sort of business you have and what do you sell. 

Facebook is amazing for generating demand and Google Ads is perfect for capturing demand. It’s a subtle difference but an important one. 

If you sell a product that isn’t very well known, chances are going to be that not many people are searching on Google for it. So, Google Ads wouldn’t be the best place to start. 

In this case, Facebook’s interest based targeting platform would be more powerful, and effective, for you to get in front of your potential customers. 

On the other hand, if you sell products or services that people are always looking for (clothes, homewares, kids products, insurance, tax services) then Google Ads is the place for you. 

Something to be mindful of when choosing the platform you should focus on, is how much you have to spend on ads each month. If you are in a highly competitive industry, click costs on Google can be really high. I’ve had clients where the cost per click was upwards of $30. If your daily budget is $20, then Google Ads will be redundant. 

Another important consideration is your design capacity. The success of your Facebook as comes down to creative. You need eye catching designs that successfully convey your message and appeal enough to your target market that they click through to your site. If you know that you are limited design-wise, or design challenged (like myself), then you need to be honest about this. There’s no point pursuing Facebook Ads if you don’t have creative that will convert for you. 

Verdict – Facebook Ads or Google Ads? 

It depends on…

  • your business (what you sell)
  • your budget
  • your ad creative
Kaity Griffin