The two basic drivers of online search traffic are pay-per-click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). PPC, which is a direct form of online advertising, can be much faster than SEO in generating traffic, but it can also be a strain on your budget. An approach used by many large brands is to implement both SEO and PPC, as this gives them a powerful mix of short and long term outcomes.
However, if you are a small business with a limited budget you may need to choose between these two approaches. So how do you make this decision and which strategy is really best for your business?
The case for organic growth using SEO
SEO is about building traffic to your website, based on ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This ranking is based over 200 ranking factors defined by Google, and is achieved by using specific techniques to optimise your approach to online marketing and integrating this with your website.
Organic traffic is well worth the investment, as once you achieve page one ranking on Google, if you maintain your SEO, you are pretty much assured of a continuous supply of ongoing traffic. This is one of the major reasons that large brands invest in SEO – to attain a page one position in Google and to enjoy a consistent supply of traffic.
Another reason that you may decide to sway toward SEO initially is because you want to build a large, authorative website. You do this because you want to reach the top of your field and act as a resource for both consumers and other industry members or to simply increase the dollar value of your website.
The case for online advertising using pay-per-click (PPC)
PPC, such as Google Adwords, involves paying the search engine to host your online advertisements which appear on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) whenever a searcher types in your keywords. Why can it be expensive? Because you pay the search engine every single time someone clicks on your ad. Regardless of whether that click converts into a sale, lead, download etc.
So when is pay-per-click more appropriate than SEO?
Immediate results: With your ads placed before millions of people, your results will be instantaneous. So if you have a high converting offer, then from a financial point of view, PPC is definitely a winner.
- Squeeze or Landing pages: PPC is good for squeeze pages not only because of the immediate results, but given the nature of a squeeze page, SEO is just not going to be effective.
- Time-sensitive offers: Not getting enough people taking up your sales offer? PPC will allow you to bid for the top position in the SERPs and potentially gain a massive amount of traffic from that in the same day.
- Niche marketing: If you need to target a small niche market, PPC is ideal. Since your ad is only presented to searchers using your keywords or within specified demographics, this is an ideal approach to generate lots of traffic.
- Market domination: If you want to be on page one of Google fast – PPC is your answer. The paid ads are shown at the top of the SERPs and since most people only ever look at page one, you will be well positioned to receive a decent share of traffic.
- Paid Amplification: Boost your SEO and content creation reach by target strategic keywords and boost your contents short-term reach, which can assist in reaching audiences your content has never seen before.
Given the caveat that both SEO and PPC can be part of an effective long-term marketing strategy, if you are looking to build an authorative website and have the time to develop your online presence, choose SEO. On the other hand if have a sizable budget and you need immediate results, go with a combined PPC and SEO strategy for both short and long-term results.