It’s typical when clients approach us for internet marketing services, they have an understanding of Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click advertising, but honestly they’re not aware of the main differences between the two. Many have just heard that they need to “increase their SEO” or they have just been told or do more “PPC advertising” to drive sales. To be successful you should be doing both SEO and PPC, but before loosely beginning an SEO and/or PPC project it’s best to understand what they are and what the difference is between them so you can make an informed decision for your business needs.
Let’s start by breaking them down…
SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization):
The process for ranking your website higher in the search engine results pages (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc…), we also sometimes refer to these as SERPs. As shown in the graphic below, SEO focuses on the natural or organic listings of web pages:
Studies show that on average, a website positioned in the first spot on Google for a particular keyword or key phrase will get roughly 33% of that search terms traffic. For example, if a keyword gets 100,000 searches per month, that web page will get nearly 33,000 visits. Would your business benefit from that amount of web traffic? Yes.
Optimizing your website is a long-term solution. SERPs, particularly Google, often update their algorithms for how they rank websites. The old methodology used to be that one could build a bunch of links, point those links to your website with unique keywords, and you would typically start to rank quickly. However, that is not the case anymore. As SEO experts we now focus on quality content generation that will build links organically. By using old SEO methods Google will now often times penalize you if their programs determine you are trying to “massage” the search results. Growing your website links and content must happen over time or it will look unnatural in the eyes of SERPs.
SEO agencies and consultants do charge a monthly fee for their services. There are some basic SEO fundamentals, however each SEO campaign is unique to the client and their business and are treated individually. At a minimum you should expect to pay monthly for quality SEO services about $600. But keep in mind, like in all industries, you get what you pay for.
PPC (short for Pay-Per-Click)
Pay-per-click, usually referred to as PPC, is far different than SEO. PPC, as you can probably guess by the name, is paid online advertising that enables you to create your own customized ads based on relevant keywords. Here are some examples:
You will always pay a certain price every time someone clicks on your ad, depending on the level of competition for the targeted keyword. For example, if you choose to target the keyword “Plumber Riverside” it may cost $4 per click on your ad, or you could target a longer tail keyword such as “24 hour emergency plumber in Riverside” and you may only pay $1 for that click. In general, the more specific your keyword or phrase is, the less you advertising dollars you’ll spend, but you’ll also sacrifice not reaching as many potential people.
What Makes PPC unique?
As opposed to SEO, which is a long-term solution, PPC is what we consider a short-term solution. If done correctly PPC advertising will allow you to drive new traffic right away to your website. Your PPC campaign goal should always be to provide a positive return on investment. With PPC we recommend that you allot a monthly budget. Google Adwords for example makes it easy to control your monthly PPC budget. When you hire an agency or PPC consultant to manage your online advertising campaign it’s their job to keep the cost-per-clicks at a minimum, control your ads, and help you identify new opportunities that your business can capitalized on.
Another added benefit to using PPC advertising is called remarketing (or sometimes referred to as retargeting), this is the practice of delivering custom ads to people who have already visited your website. Remarketing conversions on the whole tend to have higher conversion rates because the people that see the ads are already familiar with your website and are further along in the research cycle.
So What Should I Do SEO or PPC?
The simple answer to this question is both. When we’re approached to build a brand new business website, we always advise our clients to do a mixture of both SEO and PPC. Having your website listed number one is always the end goal, but like written above, SEO is going to be a long-term process, and sometimes it takes a many months or years to reach that level. This is why it is advised to start on your SEO campaign from the beginning. While your SEO campaign is gaining traction in the SERPs, we advise clients to strategize a PPC campaign to drive new website traffic for the short-term. As you begin to receive more SEO traffic, we then cut back the PPC advertising.
When running a PPC campaign you must allocate a realistic monthly budget towards ad spend, while also calculating an agency or consultant management fee into the numbers. The industry standard for this is 18% to 20% of your ad budget, but this can vary based on your industry and the amount of keywords being managed.
With SEO your building your brand. A lot of energy goes into composing the content that should be distributed and where it should be distributed. But the rewards, if done correctly, mean a high ranking organic listing will stand the test of time and continue to drive new traffic, where as with Pay-per-click, if you turn off your ads, your site will stop receiving traffic.
By combining a solid SEO and PPC strategy, you essentially have an opportunity to rule the first page of search results for your keywords. This doubles your chances of getting someone to your website, which is always the goal.
If it’s not in your budget to do both an SEO and PPC campaign, you’ll need to determine what path you want for your business website. If you want instant website traffic, then PPC is going to be your best option. But if you are looking to establish your online presence, build your brand, and have long term online success then we advise you to invest in SEO.
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