What is SEO / Search Engine Optimization
SEO or search engine optimization is all about ranking on the organic search results on a search engine results page (SERP). The organic listings are the ones below or after any paid ads and are also known as 10 blue links.
To succeed at successfully generating organic traffic from SEO, it is important to understand how to optimize your marketing strategy. You should make full use of social media, and other forms of marketing. You need to ensure that the search engines are able to crawl your site, understand your content, index it, and show that your site is a significant authority.
The challenging part about SEO is that you can’t pay to appear here, instead algorithms will calculate the quality and relevance of your page and rank you accordingly.
Therefore one of the most important parts of SEO is figuring out what the search engines deem important, and then optimizing your website and web pages accordingly in order to maximize organic traffic.
Pro of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Let’s look at the advantages of SEO:
- Organic clicks are free, and won’t cost you a cent. Of course, it takes investment in time and resources but there are no ‘click’ costs, as there are when running a PPC marketing strategy.
- Organic traffic has staying power. As long as you can rank highly for your desired keywords, you can generate consistent search traffic. Your business will show to potential customers 24/7, whereas PPC ads are like a faucet, when the money stops the ads stop.
- Organic SEO are also usually more stable. Your rankings should remain relatively consistent if you optimize your site in the right way. PPC ad positions can fluctuate a lot depending on your competitor’s bidding strategy.
- If using SEO, you can create content that targets different stages of the funnel without needing to pay for clicks. Normally with PPC, you would have to focus on either middle or bottom funnel to drive conversions.
- In most cases, SEO is more cost-effective than PPC in the long run, since you can generate the same amount of traffic (or even more) from organic search than you would from a PPC ad but the costs are a lot lower because you can factor out the cost of clicks.
Cons of Search engine optimization (SEO)
Here are some downsides to SEO.
- SEO takes time, especially for a new business or domain. It can take months for your site to rank in top spots for competitive keywords. If you only have a short window to make an impact, SEO might not be the right strategy for you.
- SEO requires unique and compelling content as well as other investments. Since a solid organic strategy involves technical SEO, content creation, data analysis, and more, you need a diverse team of individuals. This means there could be a considerable investment either in building an in-house team or hiring a specialist agency.
- Not only does SEO require a lot of initial investment, it also requires continued investment. Tweaks and improvements can always be made and even then your site will never be 100% “optimized.”
- Lastly, there are no guarantees that you’ll outrank your competitors. But when a strategy does work, you’ll earn big wins. It’s an imperfect science that demands perseverance and patience.
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What is PPC / Pay Per Click?
Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising model where you pay for clicks to your website. It’s typically associated with search engine advertising like Google Ads or Bing Ads. Today, most social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Quora have also adopted PPC as their primary business model.
But whereas SEO delivers free clicks, PPC ads require you to pay every time someone clicks on your ad. This means that it’s very common for businesses to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every day to drive traffic to their website.
What makes PCC such an effective marketing channel?
Pros of PPC / Pay Per click
- PPC allows you to see almost instant results. After your PPC ad goes live, you’ll start to see traffic, clicks, and conversions right away. Meanwhile, it can take months to achieve the same results with SEO.
- PPC ads are above all organic results. PPC gives you the opportunity to appear right at the top of the SERPs, in positions that aren’t even possible to achieve when you rely on SEO alone.
- PPC allows for granular targeting, with PPC, you can play around with different types of data (demographics, geography, etc.). As a result, you can control and pay ONLY for the people you want on your website. It also gives you opportunities to enhance your business’s presence on the search engines with things like phone numbers, callouts, and expanded site links.
- You can take a laser-targeted approach to serve ads to your specific customers. Whether you want to target searchers based on their location, the time of day, the device they use, or other factors, you can sculpt a PPC campaign to reach only the people who you know are more likely to buy. This will minimize your cost per click which will help you stay within your budget!
- When running a PPC campaign you really only need an experienced paid search specialist and a copywriter to write enticing ads and landing pages which means that a smaller team of individuals is needed in comparison to SEO.
- Running a PPC campaign gives you a vast breadth of data on the keywords and ads that your customers click on before they make a purchase, as well as those which don’t result in a return. This means you can quickly make changes to your campaign to better optimize it and improve your ROAS (return on ad spend).
- Additionally, it’s very quick and easy to run split tests and A/B tests with Google Ads, allowing you to take an ‘always testing’ approach to running your campaign which will result in continued improvements and bigger returns. In comparison, SEO is slower and thus it can be difficult to attribute success or failure to any single individual change or tactic.
Cons of PPC / pay per click
PPC is not all sunshine and roses. There are some downsides.
- Unlike SEO, traffic from PPC advertising isn’t free. Every single click that is made to your website from an ad, you’ve got to pay for. And while some industries see relatively low click costs, others can be upwards of $10 per click. If you’re in a competitive industry like insurance, PPC can get expensive fast. It’s important to make sure you’re not losing money on search engine marketing.
- For PPC ads, you have to spend money in order to direct traffic to your website. And the more you invest, the higher up you’ll be in terms of search results and the greater the number of clicks and conversions. Your conversion rate is an important metric to watch because if your traffic isn’t converting, you’re going to be wasting clicks and money.
- Unlike an organic search strategy where you don’t need to pay to start a campaign or strategy, you need a higher initial investment to get started for this search marketing strategy.
- Aside from click costs, you also need to consider people costs. You’ll need to pay for either an agency, a freelancer, or someone on your team to manage your campaigns. Additionally, if you’re looking for someone who is exceptionally skilled their rates may be higher than your business can afford.
- The biggest difference between SEO and PPC is the traffic they generate.. Unlike SEO which will result in long-term traffic, once your PPC ads are off your traffic stops. If you need to turn your PPC campaigns off, you need to consider how your site will survive without those leads. It’s all too easy to become reliant on PPC alone, so it is important for your business to develop a well-balanced strategy to ensure you have no issues in the future.
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SEO vs. PPC — Which is Right for Your Business?
Now that we’ve looked at both SEO and PPC and the respective pros and cons of each channel, it’s time to answer the big question: which one is right for your business?
The real answer: it depends.
Neither is better or worse than the other. Both are legitimate sources of traffic.
To quickly recap, here’s a handy side-by-side comparison of each of these channels:
Choosing a Single Channel
If you’ve decided to only pursue a single channel to invest in, you need to consider and think about the specific situation of your business, and the balancing of the cost and investment against the speed of seeing returns for each digital marketing strategy.
Here are some example scenarios and single-channel recommendations for each:
- If you need to drive results quickly and have no budget restrictions, choose PPC.
- If your business already has sales from other sources and you want to maximize your long-term returns, consider SEO.
- If you’re looking to test a new and innovative product or offer, you should use PPC. It’s a quicker and easier method to drive traffic to your site and you can set a fixed budget and turn ads off if needed.
- If you want to increase the awareness around your business by utilizing top-of-the-funnel traffic, choose SEO so you can focus on a solid content strategy.
Integrating SEO and PPC for Search Success
The best businesses use both SEO and PPC because they compliment each other. After all, if both channels are profitable, why wouldn’t you want to do both? Additionally, if utilized properly the two integrate really well together to drive digital marketing success. It shouldn’t just always be a case of SEO vs. PPC or SEO or PPC, but the two of them combined, as each channel can complement the other when properly utilized. And if your marketing budget allows you to use both, you should take full advantage of it, even if the only purpose for it is to balance short-term and long-term returns.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how you can integrate SEO and PPC.
Use retargeting for PPC strategy
Retargeting is when you show ads to people who have already visited your website.
It is also known as remarketing along with other names, and you can build curated lists of people who have engaged with your site. For example, you could see if a user visited a certain page and then added a product to their basket before leaving the site. Now you are can create ads that specifically target these users to encourage them to return to your site through Google Ads, social media ads, even email ads! You could also increase your bids for someone who abandoned their basket, so that when they return to the SERPs and search again, your product or service will be more prominent because you’re bidding higher for this audience.
Pursue keywords your competitors are bidding on
Imagine if you could see the keywords your competitors are bidding on in Google Ads? That way, you could find potentially lucrative long tail keywords and pursue them either via PPC or SEO.
Well guess what, you can! By pasting a competing domain into Ahref’s Site Explorer, you’ll be able to view their “PPC keywords” report. From here, you can see the keywords your competitors are bidding on, the landing pages they’re sending traffic to, and even the ad copy they’re using.
This will give you the chance to consider targeting keywords that may also be lucrative for your business via PPC or SEO.
Run Ads and Collect Data to Optimize Your SEO Strategy
You can gain valuable insights from your PPC activity that can feed straight into your SEO strategy. Since PPC provides faster data from your ads, you can use this to your advantage when designing SEO ads.
You can use data and findings from things such as conversions, ad headlines, messaging, and calls-to-action (CTAs) so your SEO strategy is prioritizing the terms and keyword groups that have the strongest conversion rate. Insights from your PPC campaigns can give you a glimpse into areas that you might have otherwise missed.
It’s actually NOT uncommon to find that another company bids on your own brand name.
Businesses often bid on another business’s brand name with ads. If you’re relying solely on SEO, you’ll most likely have the top organic result for your brand name. However, if a competitor bids on your brand name they could be showing above you on the SERPs.
In cases like this, you can use PPC to bid on your brand to maximize your visibility, meaning that a searcher should end up clicking onto your site regardless of the channel they take to your site (paid or organic ads).
Using Shopping Ads to Target Buyers
If you rely on digital marketing and sell products online you cannot just ignore shopping ads. Even if you rank strongly organically through a great SEO campaign, you need to create a compelling and effective pay-per-click campaign.
It has been proven that consumers are drawn by product listing ads, because they display both images and prices. A consumer can quickly see which and what product is available to them and for what price. Shopping ads should be used in conjunction with SEO to make sure that you’re maximizing your visibility on SERPs and also covering all the various types of options on how your customers want to find a new supplier of products or services.
If you visualize SEO an apple and PPC as an orange, can you really if say an apple is better than an orange, or vice versa?
Both are different, but yet the same, as mentioned in SEO vs SEM.
If you want a well-balanced diet, you should include them both.
Going back to digital marketing terms, you should be taking advantage and leveraging all marketing channels that work for your business. Good luck!
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