Is it Facebook? Maybe Apple? No. SEO is Google’s toughest competitor. It might be a bit surprising, but many small agencies around the world represent Google’s biggest competition.
Ask yourself what proportion of clicks in a search result comes from the organic results and the ads respectively. Of course, this will vary significantly between keywords and phrases, but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that they are distributed 50/50.
That means that there are two ways to access Google’s fantastically-targeted and profitable traffic. You can pay Google, or you can choose to pay someone else.
This means that not only does Google miss out on ad profits that instead end up in the SEO-agencies’ funds, they also have a competitor that sells a product very similar to their own. After all, it is their traffic that is being sold. The buyer can choose someone else if they feel that Google Ads is becoming too expensive. If the click costs get too high on Ads, there is always the option to access the traffic via SEO instead. Rather than having a traffic monopoly, Google is, suddenly, experiencing competition.
Right now, over time, SEO is usually more cost-effective than Google Ads. In the short-term, however, Google Ads can be much more powerful. Our recommendation is, as always, that you do both for as long as you can make a profit from them. If profitability suffers with one of them, move your business to the other.