Traffic is your website's bread and butter, you can't convert if you don't have visitors flowing through your cyber door. We are often asked about organic and paid search, ie. "which is best?" or "which one would you prefer if you had to choose?" .. particularly when you have a limited budget and are deciding which route to pursue.
To start with THERE IS NO better or worse - these two are ideally complementary to ensure the best outcome, and while they both drive traffic, there's no easy way to choose given they both can drive great results. Let's have a look at what's the actual difference, what's best for your budget and your brand.
#1 WHAT IS PPC?
When people search on Google - like the brand 'man with a van' that's local to them - they might type in 'best man with van in Brunswick'. Pay per click (PPC) advertising is paying Google to display your results above others; however it is not only the ad spend that will get your ranking up.
Google has earned its credibility and provides ranking that is deserved by good websites with great content and favourable reviews. Google tries to find a balance between pleasing people who search for accurate and relevant results; and advertisers who pay their hard earned dollars to get more traffic. So while the ad spend bids play an important role, Google will also consider many other factors like quality of your website, reviews, relevance and even your social media.
#2 WHAT'S SEO THEN?
SEO is optimising your website so that without paying, your website is seen by Google as that most reliable and accurate result for the searcher under a variety of search terms. This will help your website's ranking with or without PPC adverts running.
This takes a lot of things into consideration, from quality of the website, using keywords that people search with at the back and front end of your site, to third party back-links and review sites that link to your website.
SEO is focused on improving all those factors so that Google algorithms perceive you as the best resource for the person searching for that service. SEO also includes some basic fundamentals such as submission of site-maps to Google, links within pages of your websites, keyword titles on visuals, links to social media and of course being in a mobile-friendly format.
#3 WHAT'S BEST FOR YOUR BRAND AND BUDGET?
You need to know your brand's marketing strengths and weaknesses in order to successfully implement either of above strategies. If you really can afford only one, here's a couple of hints of what's best for you:
Go for SEO - if your focus is long term benefits - SEO takes longer to kick in, but results will be at their best over a prolonged period of time. In contrast, immediate results will be achieved with PPC: it's perfect for product launches, seasonal promos and any deadline-tight events
- If you're trying to build your brand as an authority and to-go website - SEO is your choice again. However if your website design is not SEO-friendly - i.e. very simple, visual-driven site without much content or updates, PPC is a better option
- If your website audience is very niche and targeted, PPC is you best choice, allowing you to narrow it down to location, gender, age, interests, education or even marital status
- If you have budget to spare and sell items online - PPC can boost your sales very quickly. However if your budget is very tight, you'll have to stick to SEO which doesn't require an actual advertising budget, just the time of the person optimising your site. You also need to consider how competitive your industry is - with PPC this will drive the cost per click up and will require bigger budgets. For SEO, you will need to add content regularly and devise ways to drive your traffic via other means such as social.
Remember - get your basics right first - your marketing budget will go to waste if you try to pay Google to advertise a slow, badly designed website with low quality content. You will never outbid your competitors, and will most likely receive a low-ranking from Google that will damaging your organic results. Make sure before you commence any search engine marketing, that your website is at its best!
Lastly, for optimal ranking performance, the best result will be achieved with a combination of both SEO and PPC - one plus the other - is the ultimate formula for success.
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Written by: Natalie Potter (brand strategist / director)