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Google Ads & Local SEO: What Is The Difference Between Them?

Local SEO

Last Updated on: 23rd April 2024, 12:18 pm

In today’s digital age, understanding the differences between Google Ads, Google Maps, Google Business Profile, and local SEO is crucial for any business owner looking to optimize their online presence. These tools, while interconnected, serve distinct purposes and can significantly impact how a business is perceived online.

Google Ads, Google Maps, and Google Business Profile: What’s the Difference?

First, let’s break down the differences between Google Ads, Google Maps, and the Google Business Profile. Many confuse these tools due to their integrated nature within Google’s ecosystem, but each serves a unique function.

Google Ads are paid advertisements that appear in search results and other Google services. Businesses pay to have their ads displayed to users, based on specific keywords, and they incur costs based on clicks or impressions. This platform offers immediate visibility and is ideal for driving targeted traffic to your website quickly.

Google Maps is an essential tool for businesses, especially for local visibility. It allows businesses to appear on map searches and location-based services, which is crucial for attracting local clientele.

Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a free service provided by Google that allows business owners to manage how their information is displayed on Google and Google Maps. This includes adding business details like hours, location, and photos. While it is free, it’s a fundamental aspect of a business’s online identity.

Many businesses mistakenly believe that deactivating their ads will remove their business profiles, which is not the case. The confusion often arises because Google has made these tools seem interconnected.

Local SEO: The Organic Approach

Local SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing your website and online presence to rank higher in search engine results for local searches. This is an organic approach, meaning it doesn’t involve direct payments for traffic but rather focuses on enhancing the quality and visibility of your online presence through strategic content, keywords, and local listings.

Unlike Google Ads, local SEO is not about immediate gratification. It’s a long-term strategy aimed at building a sustainable online presence that can attract and retain customers over time. This approach is particularly advantageous for businesses that want to establish a strong local presence without the ongoing cost of ads.

The Connection Between Google Tools and Local SEO

It’s important to note that while Google Ads can be linked to your Google Business Profile to enhance ad performance using existing business information, this does not replace the need for local SEO. Google has done a good job of making these tools appear seamless, which can be beneficial but also misleading.

Local SEO makes use of the Google Business Profile to enhance visibility in local searches, but the optimizations go beyond mere profile management. It involves optimizing your website and content for local search terms, ensuring your listing is accurate and comprehensive, and building local backlinks.

The Misconception About Ads and SEO

There’s a common misconception among business owners that paid ads (like Google Ads) are equivalent to or as effective as SEO in improving search engine rankings. However, ads only give you visibility as long as you are paying for them. Once you stop, the visibility disappears. Local SEO, on the other hand, provides more durable results. You remain visible as long as your SEO is effective, regardless of your ad status.

Why Choose Local SEO Over Google Ads?

Choosing local SEO over Google Ads depends on your business needs. If you need quick visibility and immediate results, Google Ads can provide that boost. However, for sustained growth and to build trust with your audience, local SEO is more effective. It allows businesses to grow organically, appearing more credible to users who often skip ads in favor of “organic” search results.


Both Google Ads and local SEO are powerful tools in their own right. Google Ads provide a quick solution for visibility and traffic, whereas local SEO offers a steady, long-term strategy that can yield more lasting benefits. By understanding the differences and strategically using each tool, businesses can enhance their online presence and reach their target audience more effectively.

Remember, digital marketing isn’t just about choosing one approach over another; it’s about using each tool available to create a balanced, effective marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals and audience needs.

About the author:

Picture of Rob Downey

Rob Downey

Robert Downey: Revolutionizing Local Marketing and Voice Search Optimization Robert Downey is a distinguished figure in the dynamic world of local marketing and digital innovation. As the co-founder of, he has proven to be a master in local marketing strategy and a pioneer in voice search optimization. With a career spanning nearly three decades, Robert has dedicated himself to enhancing the visibility of small businesses and fostering stronger connections between these enterprises and their local communities. Robert's journey in the marketing realm began in 1995, and since then, he has led over 1,000 marketing campaigns, contributing significantly to developing more than 5,000 websites. His expertise spans various industries, equipping him with a nuanced understanding of their unique challenges and opportunities. This extensive experience broadens his skill set and cements his position as a thought leader in local business marketing. One of the keys to Robert's success is his ability to deliver impactful results using local SEO strategies. He excels in this area, demonstrating that businesses can use small advertising budgets to be successful. Instead, they need the right strategies to reach consumers actively seeking their services. His approach needs to include the importance of bridging the gap between local businesses and potential customers, which has often hindered the growth and visibility of many small businesses. As a fourth-generation entrepreneur, the entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in Robert's veins. This heritage has ingrained in him a profound understanding of business growth and evolution, especially crucial in the fast-paced startup environment. At, he applies this strategic vision to simplify the local business discovery process, leading to significant growth of the platform, an expanded user base, and increased revenue streams. Beyond Simply Be Found, Robert's achievements include launching over ten successful online businesses and startups, a testament to his versatility and expertise in the digital business landscape. He brings a unique blend of programming skills, marketing acumen, and business development experience, offering a fresh and invaluable perspective to today's digitally-centered business challenges. In essence, Robert Downey is more than just a local marketing expert. He is a catalyst for growth, a digital marketing innovator, and a mentor to businesses striving for success. His extensive experience, profound industry knowledge, and unwavering dedication to the success of small businesses make him an indispensable ally for any business aiming to enhance its local presence and achieve sustainable growth.

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