Which is best for your business, investing in immediate gains that pay per click advertising can generate, or driving the long term benefits associated with optimising your website for organic search success? The question of where to invest your internet marketing budget or how to allocate the budget is much debated by novices and experts throughout the internet.
First, let’s give a little background in the unlikely case you are new to search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click advertising (PPC). SEO refers to the process of optimising your website to improve page ranking in organic or free search results for specific keywords or phrases. PPC (sometimes known as SEM) is paid advertising where you bid on targeted keywords to gain prominence in the (SERP’s) search engine results pages.
Let’s start by looking at some of the pros and cons of both SEO and PPC. SEO First.
Pros Of SEO
Organic results more likely to be clicked on
Research into the effectiveness of PPC v SEO has established that organic results are more likely to be clicked on. Speculation is that this might be due to the positioning of organic results and how searchers view web pages. Others hypothesise that individuals are beginning to understand the difference between sponsored listings and organic results, and that organic results are perhaps more respected than paid listings. Whatever the reason, organic results can be clicked on 8+ times more than their paid equivalents.
SEO is more affordable
I stopped short of saying that SEO is free. While there is no cost for each click on your listing, it would be naive to think you can benefit from top search rankings without investment. That investment might be in the form of hiring an SEO company to optimise your site, or perhaps the cost of your own time if you are attempting to do it yourself. The good news however is that the investment required hiring a professional to improve your search prominence tends to be significantly lower than most PPC advertising campaigns.
Trust and credibility
I touched on this briefly above, but it seems that businesses that rank highly in organic results are more likely to be trusted by web browsers. This may mean you attract a higher quality traffic source to your website as a result.
Cons of SEO
Make no bones about it; achieving search engine success is tough. It is not simply a few weeks work and you are done. SEO takes time and commitment in order to achieve improved rankings.
If you are a small business the competition can be extremely daunting. Often you are taking on large corporations with significant advertising budgets or resources.
Pros of PPC
Higher conversion rates
Consumers are less likely to click on paid listings, the traffic that is generated through paid listings in search engines tends to have a higher conversion rate. Some of this may be attributed to highly optimised landing pages from the advertiser, but regardless of the reason there is a real opportunity to drive significant sale volumes for your business through PPC traffic.
SEO can take a long time to achieve success. PPC on the other hand can be set up within a day and you can be in front of laser targeted customers in no time.
The fantastic part about any pay per click campaign is that you have 100% control over your listings. That includes the amount of money you pay, the ad copy, landing pages and who you target. If something isn’t working you can quickly stop or modify it.
Cons of PPC
It can be expensive
The cost of PPC can escalate quickly, especially when done incorrectly. It is usually best to hire a company with skills and experience in platforms such as Google Adwords to manage it for you to ensure you minimise the cost per interaction and to constantly monitor and optimise campaigns over time.
OK, in summary… this will probably come as no surprise to you that you need to include both pay per click and SEO as part of your internet marketing strategy. Pay per click is fantastic at building brand awareness quickly as you continue to establish your SEO presence. It can also help guide your SEO efforts by providing wonderful data on what keywords and customers to target, before you invest long hours into driving SEO. What’s more, even when you achieve improved search engine prominence, you can count on fluctuations in rankings and inconsistencies in your traffic, a problem that a sustainable PPC advertising strategy can minimise for your business.