When starting an online marketing strategy you may be trying to decide to go with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC). Which is the best option? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are many variables involved with both SEO and PPC, such as the marketplace, your objective, and the current status of your business or web presence.
Hopefully, this article will help give you some of the basic information so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your online marketing. SEO is always important and is more of a long-haul strategy, whereas PPC can provide you some fast track results. One thing that is important when implementing either or both options, is that your PPC and SEO managers have to know what they’re doing and what your goals are.
SEO and PPC aren’t things that can just be done without a plan or experience. You need to have an understanding of the competition, your customers, search engines’ rules, web trends, and more. Make sure that the person you have doing your SEO and PPC know what they’re doing or you will just be throwing your money into the web.
There are many facets to SEO that make it a great choice when promoting your business online.
Your goal with SEO is to appear at the top of search results for keywords that pertain to your product or service, turning that search result into a sale. The closer you are to the top of the search results, the better chance you have of a potential customer clicking on your website.
Another function of SEO is to help with the branding of your company. If your business is associated with being an expert on a subject or a trusted resource, you will achieve better results. Make sure your website is saying something on the topic and has links that make the site a resource for potential customers. Ultimately, you want to be the go-to company in your field.
Related to being regarded as an expert in the field is to have credibility. If your website comes up in the top results, you will be perceived as a trusted business. Make sure your website and social media have positive reviews, testimonials, and signs of a strong reputation. If your company wants to be thought of as the best service or product, you have to back it up. Online Reputation Management is another important service to look into.
Organic search results will drive traffic to your business. Just like a brick and mortar location, more traffic means more potential customers and sales. IF SEO is done right, people that are looking to purchase a product or service with you will be heading to your site, ready to buy.
A good way to look at SEO vs PPC is with a golf analogy. SEO is starting at the tee and moving towards the green. It takes time and various clubs or tools to make progress. PPC is sinking the ball once you’re on the green. They both take skill and strategy, but not the same kind.
When SEO is implemented correctly, you are able to cover more ground. There are many ways that people do searches and to hit every possible search query with a PPC strategy would be costly, if not impossible. With a properly formatted SEO strategy, your whole website becomes an advertisement and will do its part to make your business show up in search results.
Over time, you will be able to establish your business online and your competitors’ PPC can’t invade your turf. If your competition is relying solely on paid search results, they’ll have a hard time beating your search results.
This all sounds good, but the bottom line comes down to cost. Is all this going to be worth it? SEO is more cost-effective than PPC, you get a long-term strategy for less money. One way to measure the cost of SEO is cost-per-click. Developing good search results takes time, effort, and money, but there is no cost-per-click. People can click on your listing in the search results 100 times and it won’t cost you one penny more.
You’ll find that you get a better Return on Investment (ROI) with SEO than you do with paid media. You pay for the SEO work and, if it is done correctly, you’ll begin seeing an increase in sales. It may take more time to see results than PPC, but your ROI will be greater. SEO will provide you with the opportunity to put your brand in front of the eyes of potential customers and bring traffic to your site.
Studies have shown that more users click on organic search results than they do for paid ads. That’s more eyeballs on your product or service, so you have a better chance of making a sale.
This all sounds good, and so you may be thinking “what’s the downside?”
First off, well-done SEO takes time. You are not going to see overnight results. The search engines have to go over your site and run all of their algorithms before you see a change in search results. There are a lot of factors that come into play for a search engine to decide where your result is going to be placed on their list.
Additionally, if you are working against a competitor that is bigger or more established than you, you may have a harder time moving up in the search results. Competing for a search result against a company like Wal-Mart or U-Haul is going to be an uphill battle. They have more resources, so you may have to find a different way of competing online against them. You can run into the same problem locally if you are a new company and there are competitors that have been in the area longer. They have had time to establish an online presence and develop their own SEO, so it may be difficult and expensive to battle them head on.
Your site will need real link building and this isn’t always an easy task. You may be tempted to just throw as many links as you can into your site, but that will send warning signs to Google and Bing. Their algorithms can tell that these are unnecessary links and add nothing to the user experience (UX). You are better off having a few good and real links that give your website credibility and trust.
SEO that is done well isn’t something that you can just sit down and do in your spare time. You’ll need someone that is dedicated to working on your site. They will need to study your market and trends in both your area and on the internet. They will have to see what your competitors are doing and stay ahead of them. In addition, the person doing your SEO needs to be a good writer. Poorly written content reflects on your business, making you look unprofessional.
So, after reading all of that, why would anyone want to pay for results?
Like we said earlier in our golf analogy: SEO is driving to the green, whereas PPC is sinking the putt. Both are parts of the game, but have different methods and goals. A Pay Per Click strategy is going to target certain users, whereas SEO just puts it out there for everyone.
When you first enter a search query, search engines, like Google, generally show ads for the top four results. These are called “above the fold”, which comes from newspapers. The headlines that they wanted to grab you with would be above the fold, so they would be visible when the paper was on display. A similar thought process goes into search results. A computer or phone screen can only show so much, so the links that Google or Bing wants people to click on are at the top, so the user doesn’t have to scroll down. Even if the users don’t ultimately click on your link, they will see it first and it will be in their mind while they look.
By using a PPC strategy, the advertisements will give you more options on presenting your marketing message. You can highlight prices, locations, and more while giving you the flexibility to change quickly if things aren’t going the way you want. You can also double down on methods that are working in your favor.
If you are offering a product, you can do a visual product ad as seen above. People can see an image of your product and they are placed at the top of the page. You can’t do this with organic search results. Users are reacting more and more to visual cues, so this is a great opportunity to get your product in front of your potential customers.
With PPC, you can get your brand out there. Your brand will be in front of the right people, adding to your marketing reach. In addition, if you are targeting a certain demographic, your ad will only be seen by certain people. You can target a wide variety of variables including a certain day of the week or time of day, where a person is located, or what type of device they are using. You can also target certain keywords, allowing you to fine tune your marketing.
One of the strongest benefits of a PPC campaign is the marketing feedback you can get through programs like Google Analytics. With this data, you will be able to see what keywords work, how well, and at what cost. You can also use this information to boost your SEO and other marketing methods.
Like SEO, a good manager for your PPC is vital. They will be able to find the best keywords at affordable prices and implement them to your best advantage. Also, as you gather information, you can add the keywords to your SEO to lower your costs even more.
When looking at the cons of PPC, the biggest issues revolve around money. If you don’t have a good PPC manager, the strategy can be costly and ineffective. The campaign has to be focused and using the right keywords or images. If a keyword that is popular and costly is used, you are likely throwing money away. You want to find keywords that target your customers and your product or service.
You can get into a bidding war over sought-after keywords. Savvy competitors will be trying to get the same advantage as you. There are only so many pieces of the pie, so you and your PPC manager will have to decide if it’s worth paying for a sought-after keyword or to get creative and find another keyword or strategy. You don’t want to lose sight of your ROI attempting to get an expensive keyword.
Speaking of competitors, PPC is easily copied. Your competition can see what your ads are and imitate them. SEO is harder to duplicate and if they are only beginning SEO, you have a headstart on them.
When SEO is implemented, you can take time off, if necessary, and it will still work. On the other hand, with PPC, if you don’t buy ads, you have nothing out there. A good PPC campaign has to be continuously funded; Google, Bing, and other search engines won’t run your ad just because you’re a nice company.
A successful PPC campaign is time-consuming, you or your PPC manager will have to monitor bids, click through rates, Quality Scores, positions, and more. You have to keep on top of your campaign, things can change in the blink of an eye and you don’t want to waste your money on an ineffective ad.
Just like other aspects of your business, there is no one-size-fits-all scheme. Depending on your needs, competition, product or service, and other variables, it is tough to say one method is better than another. What is clear is that you need a clear digital marketing strategy with both short and long goals. Once you have a better idea of what you want to achieve, you’ll have a better idea of how to get there.
When you do both PPC and SEO you can have the best of both worlds. Keywords and conversion data can be used to beef up SEO and make it even more effective. If you find that the keywords you want to use are expensive or are high volume or low-converting, they can be integrated into the SEO content without having to pay for them.
You can perform A/B testing with PPC and use the results in your SEO content and landing pages. You can also do a quick test of your keyword strategy and then use what you learn in your organic listing.
Think of it as a holistic health strategy. The parts work together to make the whole better. Your end game is an increase in sales, so why not use all the tools available to you and your business? PPC and SEO: the two methods can work together to increase traffic and, in turn, increase sales.