Even if you have little experience with online marketing for your business, you’re likely aware of the potential benefits it offers and the prospective audience you could reach. The move from more traditional forms of advertising to online marketing can be challenging, but it comes with the offer of achieving success in a digital age if you’re willing to be a student.
If you can learn how to use online marketing effectively, you stand to gain a pretty extensive reach that’s incredibly cost-effective. As of 2018, there are more than 4 billion internet users and about two-thirds of them are using smartphones. That’s a potential audience that no business can afford to disregard. But how do you reach them?
You’ll hear a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising, and they are both very important in your online marketing efforts. But what are they exactly and what can they do for you?
Unless someone knows your business’s URL and goes to it directly, they will find your website through a search engine like Google or Bing. SEO is a set of methods used to ensure people find you in the search engines, driving targeted, organic, free traffic to your site that you can use to build an audience. SEO is a long-term marketing strategy that doesn’t see success overnight. Instead, SEO requires monitoring, analysis, and frequent adjustments but can be effective in growing an audience and boosting your conversion rate over time.
PPC is online advertising but a little different than traditional advertising. Search engine ads, a common example of PPC, are seen at the top of your search results when you conduct a search and are clearly marked as sponsored ads. Using PPC, advertisers only pay a fee when someone clicks on their online ad. You’re essentially buying visits to your website rather than earning those visits with SEO where you hope they find your listing and click on it.
If your SEO is sharp and you’re on the first page of results for a given keyword, you might be in luck. But even if you’re in the very top position, you’re still competing with the paid ads that will appear before yours.
Advertising with search engines is one form of PPC advertising. You have the opportunity to bid for ad placement among the search engine’s sponsored ad spaces for a given keyword. When someone searches for that keyword, your ad may appear in the very top position of search results.
The SEO vs. PPC Debate
The key differences between SEO and PPC are important to understand.
SEO involves more than just helping websites ranking higher in organic search results. When you consider that the major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo also factor in how people interact with your website and how many other sites are linking to you, you realize that SEO also helps establish how much of an authority you are in your given area.
The algorithms the search engines use are complex, and with the rise of mobile and voice search, they’ve been shifting on a frequent basis for the last couple of years. SEO requires that marketers be perpetual students in adjusting their SEO for maximum benefit and keep up with the changes. And all the while, results build slowly over time. SEO, however, costs nothing.
PPC involves paying for advertising space based on specific keywords used for queries on the search engines. Is SEO involved in developing a PPC campaign? Absolutely. The better your grasp of SEO, the better you’ll do in creating a PPC campaign that’s effective all around. Since the ads appear at the top of the search engine results when visitors use the keywords you’re optimizing for, the results are immediate which is a real benefit to a business that’s brand new or struggling. There is a cost involved, but it’s easy to control.
When PPC Has an Edge over SEO
While both SEO and PPC are essential to online business and can be used with great results together, some situations, like startup businesses or businesses who are struggling, can’t wait for SEO to benefit them. PPC advertising can achieve results faster and comes with many other benefits as well.
- Above the Fold Content: Using up the first four ads on desktop searches and the first three spots on mobile, with PPC the visitor always sees the paid listings first even if they choose to scroll down.
- Targeted Traffic: PPC ads allow you to be very specific in targeting your audience. Not only do you select keywords, you can select the time of day, day of the week, geographic location, language, device, and much more. The specificity of PPC is a huge benefit over SEO alone, which can be a scattered prospect.
- PPC Campaign Budget: When using PPC, you have solid control of your advertising budget. You choose how much you’re willing to spend per day and set strict limits. Once the limit is reached, the campaign ends, and your budget is not exceeded. Such budgeting control makes it easier to control marketing costs.
- A/B Testing: Also called split-testing, A/B testing is a method of comparison where two versions of a web page or app are used to see which performs better. If the keywords used for PPC ads on page A outperform the keywords used for PPC ads on page B, you’ll have an idea of what’s working in your marketing efforts. You can make adjustments and focus on the better results to reach your conversion goals and help save money.
- Listings that Catch the Eye: Since PPC listings are ads, you have much more control and space to play with than you do for standard search engine listings. You have the option to include locations, talking points, links, pricing and more. You also have the option of using images which proves to boost click-through rates.
When strategically used, SEO and PPC can work beautifully together to help you reach your online marketing goals. When it comes to achieving your goals faster when your business needs a lift, or you’re brand new, PPC advertising is an easy, cost-effective method to get quick, meaningful results.
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