SEO or PPC – Which is Best for Your Business?
It’s no secret that online marketing can be one of the most effect marketing tactics for small and start-up businesses. It has the ability to help you produce extremely low cost conversions while increasing your visibility and brand recognition. But when it comes to online marketing, how do you decide whether to use SEO, PPC, or both? The truth is that there is value in both forms of search marketing – paid and unpaid. However, it’s important to realize the difference between these two forms of search marketing and the different roles they play in your overall marketing plan. Here are a few basic facts and tips to help you determine the right online marketing mix for your business.
PPC: The Basics
PPC is known for helping businesses produce highly targeted leads for a relatively small cost. Major search engines like Yahoo, Bing, and Google all offer forms of paid search ads, but Google Adwords is by far the most widely used of them all. In fact, it’s reported that Google’s ad revenue in 2010 surpassed $28 billion. Businesses like using the Adwords platform because if needed, the platform is simple enough to run a campaign independently. However, many businesses have turned to online marketing agencies for help with managing and increasing the efficiency of their campaigns in recent years.
PPC advertising can be a valuable part of a company’s online marketing mix for business because it provides a method for immediate search visibility. With PPC, businesses can get a better idea of the search demand for their targeted keywords. Additionally, PPC advertising tends to provide better tracking results for proving a positive return on their advertising investment.
When advertisers create a new PPC campaign, their ads can start appearing in the search engines as soon as their ads are approved and there are funds in their account. This is the main reason why many businesses tend to spend more on PPC rather than SEO. Because results are immediate, it also provides a faster way for businesses to determine what type of keywords perform well and which don’t, setting precedence for their organic search marketing campaigns. With ad tracking, businesses can easily determine how much of their site traffic and conversions can be attributed to PPC.
The cost for PPC advertising varies quite a bit among different businesses, and is very dependent on the keyword competition for the keywords they are targeting. Some costs per click can be as little as $2 while others can be upwards of $20. There is no monthly minimum or maximum that businesses can spend on PPC advertising, but the most important factor that businesses should remember is that PPC advertising is strictly a short term investment. Once funds are exhausted, ads stop showing. There is generally little or no residual traffic that is generated once a PPC campaign stops running.
SEO: The Basics
If you’re in the business realm, you are mostly likely familiar with what SEO is. While SEO refers to “search engines” in general, most people today are mainly concerned about their Google rankings, considering that Google receives the majority of the world’s search traffic. Google uses hundreds of factors to determine how sites are ranked in their search engine results pages, but a couple of the key indictors include you’re site’s keyword relevancy and the quality of links that point to your site. SEO is the practice of improving your site’s keyword relevancy as well as the quality and number of links that point to it in order to increase its position in the search engines.
Why is SEO so important? It really comes down to two main points: visibility and credibility. While some PPC ads do show above organic rankings in the search engines, people generally tend to trust organic rankings more so than ads that have paid placement. If your company is aiming for top notch online credibility and authority, achieving top organic search results is one of the best ways to do just that. The authority and credibility of top organic results also plays into ROI as well. In fact, a recent report from the 2011 State of Digital Marketing report shows that both B2B and B2C business report that SEO had the biggest impact on lead generation rather than PPC or social media marketing.
SEO can be a complex science. It typically involves a lot of time and strategy to produce top ranking results, especially in a competitive keyword market. This is the reason why many industry experts claim that SEO is underfunded, and that most marketing budget dollars go to PPC instead of SEO. It’s true that SEO results are much more gradual than those seen with PPC campaigns. However, the main difference businesses should pay attention to is that SEO is a long-term investment. In fact, it usually takes businesses about a year or longer to see a steep improvement in the ROI of SEO. However, once that return is reached, businesses reap big benefits from the rankings they’ve worked hard to get, as it produces far more traffic and leads. Additionally, once top rankings are reached, they are much more long-lasting than PPC.
Finding the Right Mix
When it comes to SEO vs. PPC – it’s not necessarily a matter of which to choose, it’s a matter of which combination of both will be most effective, especially depending on your marketing budget and the nature of the products or services you are selling.
If your business needs immediate results, wants to advertise to a highly targeted audience or markets time-sensitive offers that change often, PPC is the way to go. PPC campaigns for situations like there are complimentary to the results that SEO can provide.
In most cases, consistently investing in SEO is always a good decision. SEO will more often than not produce effective returns for your business at some point, though it may take a little longer than you ideally want. Even if you think your initial keyword market is much too competitive to reach first page rankings, you can most likely find long-tail keywords, or more specific terms, that your website will see traffic increases from if optimized for.