Welcome Wpromoter Kyle Ashby to the blog! This is his first of what we hope to be many guest posts. Bravo!
It is not an unfamiliar dilemma. Marketing budgets are limited, and efficiency is key. You’ve realized utilizing search engines is a great way to grow your business. But where do you spend your limited budget? There is the ol’ reliable pay-per-click (PPC) versus the new hotshot search engine optimization (SEO).
The best way to find out which avenue is best for you is to TEST. Test running PPC and SEO alone, and test running PPC and SEO together. Performing these tests can take months of time, money, and analysis, and you’ll likely come out with some good information on which you can base decisions regarding your next move.
But if you don’t have the time and money for months of testing, you should consider the ups and downs of both off the bat and try to make a decision that way.
The benefits of PPC revolve around control. You are in charge, from conception to click. Firstly, you decide exactly what search terms, aka ‘keywords,’ you want to advertise under. Speaking of keywords, a huge benefit of PPC is the ability to advertise under nearly unlimited keywords, giving your campaign a very broad reach (no to be confused with ‘broad match’). PPC also allows you to determine the point of entry to your website for each ad you place with customized links. In short, users see what you want them to see and hear what you want them to hear, which in turn can help expedite the sales process and maximize your conversions.
All in all, PPC is a great short-term solution to web traffic woes. You get instant exposure for your products and services, and you only pay for visitors to your website, not the brand awareness which results from your ad being displayed. In addition, you can track the performance of your campaign from click to conversion. This gives you incredibly granular data which you can study to better understand your target customer and optimize your sales funnel to accommodate increased conversions.
The biggest pull for SEO is the almighty “free click.” Granted, you are never charged per click with SEO, but it takes a lot of hard work and time to get and maintain a high-ranking position in the organic search results. In fact, according to SEOmoz, SEO drives 75%+ of all search traffic. This can be seen in the heatmap image below.
Likewise, while a lot of hard work goes into both PPC and SEO, with SEO your work cannot be “turned off,” so to speak. While with PPC your ad only shows when you are paying for clicks, with SEO the time, money and effort put into making your site more search engine friendly doesn’t vanish – it stays there. And as long as you invest in upkeep, a key aspect of SEO, your investment will continue to produce a return.
Another important factor to consider when comparing PPC to SEO is trust. When your site is listed higher in the organic search engine rankings, this instills trust in your brand. Anyone can set their bids higher in AdWords to try and achieve better positioning, but when your site ranks well organically, it shows you’ve put in time and effort over the long-term and are deemed highly relevant to a user’s query.
The bottom line
So what is the answer, SEO or PPC? In a perfect world, the answer is both. The more highly search engines rank your site, the lower your costs per click is going to be for your PPC campaign. Likewise, the more traffic you bring to your site with PPC, the more legitimate and therefore highly ranked your site becomes.
Essentially, SEO and PPC is a match made in heaven for a marketer with the budget and resources to leverage both successfully. However, if you must choose between the two, there is one final factor you may want to consider: according to a recent NY Times article, paid links are 17% more likely to result in a purchase than organic links. What does this mean? Well, if you’re looking for immediate sales and must choose one tactic over the other, perhaps PPC is the way to go – as long as your clicks are affordable and cost-per-acquisition contributes to positive ROI.
Yes, as you can see, there are several key variables to consider when allocating an online marketing spend for either PPC or SEO – but if you can’t do both, weigh the pros and cons of each to help you decide which tactic best suits your business needs.
For more information on PPC or SEO, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.