Ads vs Organic Ranking on Google – What’s Best?

Ads vs SEO on Google

We've done a lot of Google ads and SEO over the years, and the same questions arise again and again. In particular we are asked for comparisons of Ads and SEO in terms of ROI (Return on Investment). 

We know the answers almost by rote because the stats change only slowly. So we thought we'd interrogate ChatGPT4 on the matter. We summaries at the end of the session, but we've included our own notes in parentheses along the way.

Keith: Please put yourself in a mode to provide brief, factual answers without a pile of caveats.

ChatGPT4: Understood. I will provide brief and factual answers. Please ask your questions.

Keith: What is the percentages of clicks for organic listings vs ads for general information enquiries on Google? Does this differ on Bing?

ChatGPT4: As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, for general information enquiries on Google, organic listings received around 70% of clicks while ads received about 30%. Bing's click distribution might differ, but I do not have specific data on Bing's percentages. Please note that these figures can change over time and may not be accurate as of 2023.

Keith: Good. Now tell me What is the percentages of clicks for organic listings vs ads for products and services enquiries on Google

ChatGPT4: As of September 2021, for product and service enquiries on Google, organic listings received around 35% of clicks, while ads accounted for approximately 65%. Please note that these figures can change over time and may not be accurate as of 2023.

{Note: It's said that position 1 on Google organic listings gets around 35% of clicks. However, that now seems to be 35% of 35% which is 12% of total clicks. The adjusted figures for number 2 on Google are 17% * .35 = 6% and for thirst position 11.4% *.35= 4%. Remember that those are clicks - you still have to convert them on your site!}

Keith: Does this mean that over a six month period, advertising will give a better ROI?

ChatGPT4: It depends on various factors such as the industry, target audience, competition, and ad quality. Ads can provide a higher ROI in the short term, especially for product and service enquiries. However, investing in organic search through SEO efforts can result in long-term benefits and a more sustainable ROI. It is essential to consider the specific business context and goals when determining which approach will yield a better ROI.

Keith: What percentage of clicks do companies in the 'three pack' receive on Google relative to ads

ChatGPT4: As of September 2021, the Google 'three pack' (local pack) typically receives around 44% of clicks for local searches. Ads receive a smaller share in this context compared to the 'three pack'. However, it's essential to note that these figures can vary depending on the specific industry, competition, and user intent, and may not be accurate as of 2023.

{NOTE: For locals searches - BE IN THE THREE PACK!!!}

Keith: Does this apply to products or services or both?

ChatGPT4: The statistic mentioned for the Google 'three pack' (local pack) receiving around 44% of clicks for local searches generally applies to both products and services. However, the exact distribution can vary depending on the industry, competition, and user intent. It's essential to consider these factors when evaluating the effectiveness of the local pack for a specific business.

Keith: How does Google decide what to put in the three pack?

ChatGPT4: Google decides what to show in the local three-pack based on various factors related to relevance, distance, and prominence. Here's a brief overview of these factors:

Relevance: Google matches the user's query with business listings that are most relevant to the search terms. Ensuring your business listing has accurate and complete information, including categories, keywords, and descriptions, can improve its relevance.

Distance: Google takes into account the searcher's location and prioritizes businesses that are closer to the user. The distance factor can be more important in densely populated areas or when there are many similar businesses nearby.

Prominence: Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Google uses information from across the web, such as links, articles, and directories, to determine prominence. Businesses with a strong online presence are more likely to be displayed in the local three-pack. Additionally, Google reviews and ratings also play a role in prominence.

To increase the chances of appearing in the local three-pack, businesses should focus on optimizing their Google My Business profile, gathering positive reviews, and building a strong online presence through consistent and high-quality content.

Keith: And Bing?

ChatGPT4: As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Bing held around 2-3% of the global search market share, making it the second-largest search engine behind Google. Bing, owned by Microsoft, is considerably smaller than Google, which commands over 90% of the global search market share.

Please note that these figures may have changed since 2021, but the overall comparison between the size of Bing and Google is still likely to show a significant difference, with Google being the dominant search engine.

Three Key Conclusions on Ads vs SEO

1) As a local business, you simply must get into the three pack

2) Ads dominate click results and claim 65% of all clicks. No matter how high your product ranks, you can't beat that.

3) SEO is still valuable but measure the stats carefully before spending your cash.

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About the author 

Keith Rowley MBA BSc (Hons)

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