SEO vs. PPC: Choosing a Strategy that Fits Your Marketing Goals

Last week we discussed what SEO and PPC were, and a bit about their differences. Even if you understand the basics, it may be hard to determine which is right for your marketing needs. So how do you pick between the two, or must you even choose? AJ Kumar, in an Entrepreuner article, suggests to consider these three questions when deciding whether SEO or PPC are right for your business:

  1. How large is your website advertising budget?
  2. How high are the CPCs in your industry?
  3. How competitive are the SERPs in your niche?

Let’s break these three questions down and explain why they matter.

1. How large is your website advertising budget?

As we discussed last week, SEO is your “free” option when it comes to generating traffic, whereas PPC is the “paid” option. So in choosing between SEO and PPC, you first need to decide what size advertising budget your business can support. With PPC campaigns, we suggest at minimum a $5.00 per day budget.

If you have a very minimal budget to commit to advertising, you’ll need to stick with free SEO methods. But if you have even a little capital to invest in PPC advertising, consider giving it a try because it offers a number of benefits, as AJ Kumar explains, including:

  • “Faster testing. Websites should focus on achieving conversion, whether it’s selling products, signing up email newsletter subscribers or some other action. That means actively testing website variables to improve conversion rates. These tests, however, require traffic to generate data, so you might want to purchase traffic through PPC advertising to get faster results.”
  • “Protection from SEO algorithm updates. One major weakness of SEO is that algorithms change from time to time. When that happens, sites that have been optimized in one way can lose rankings — and profits — practically overnight. But when you pay for traffic, you’re assured a steady stream of visitors, no matter what changes Google and the other search engines make.”

2. How high are the average CPCs in your industry?

While setting your budget, also take a look at what others in your industry are spending on CPC, if possible.

PPC platforms typically allow users to bid what they’re willing to pay for a single keyword click — a fee that’s referred to as “cost-per-click” (CPC). In Google Adwords, for example, broader keywords and keyword phrases, such as “hearing aids,” require a much higher bid than more narrow-focused keywords or keyword phrases, such as “audiologist Bala Cynwyd PA”

If you wish to run PPC campaigns for very broad keywords and phrases you will need a higher budget to have a successful campaign.

3. How competitive are the SERPs in your niche?

Your strategy will also depend on how competitive your search engine results pages (SERPs) are in your industry. For example, if you would like to rank #1 for “hearing aids” you’d be competing with Starkey, Mayo Clinic, NIDCD, and ASHA. But the more specific the niche (specialties and areas) the less competition for top SERP rankings.

In the most competitive industries, you may find that results pages for your target keywords are dominated by authority websites. They can be nearly impossible to displace without a significant investment of time and money. In such cases, it may ultimately make more sense to pay for traffic via PPC promotions.

But it’s almost never necessary to make an “either-or” choice between SEO and PPC. When combined, PPC and SEO are powerful tools. By asking yourself these three questions above, you can begin to determine the optimal mix of PPC and SEO for your website.

Infographic: How Facebook Has Changed Advertising

There’s no way around it, Facebook is changing the way customers consume content and the way marketers advertise.

Facebook users don’t just post about their personal lives; they also post news and content that are important to them. Political news, sports scores, funny videos, they even post about their favorite brands & companies — on Facebook, it’s all fair game.

The rise of social media, particularly Facebook, forced brands to rethink how they deal with customers. Now, if someone complains on a brand’s Facebook page or Twitter account, a customer-service rep responds. News travels fast on social media, and the last thing a brand wants is for an angry customer to tell all his friends about a poor experience. Companies’ social media interactions can even make the news. Look at McDonald’s “Peace Day” debacle. How did McDonald’s choose to post their response to Burger King? On Facebook. And since Facebook interactions go both ways, they are seeing the backlash from their customers right on their Facebook page.

Facebook is constantly evolving and so is the way we, as customers and marketers, use it. The following infographic shows just how far Facebook has come since it’s inception in 2004. Bluehost has unveiled this infographic looking at both the changes that Facebook has made in its own advertising structure throughout the years, and what this has meant for advertising as a sector.

how-facebook-changed-the-advertising-world-infographic-1

A History of Social Media

I’m going to let you in on a well-kept secret: there’s nothing new about “social media.”

Further, most online social sharing still happens outside of social networks. The Internet and the valuable content it distributes, have always been social.  From the very first email sent by researchers in Switzerland in 1971, to modern sites like Google+ Local and Pinterest. The purpose of the Internet (every blog, website and virtual gathering place within it) is to let people connect, communicate, and collaborate.

So the concept behind Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking tools isn’t new. These sites just give us new, sexy, and easy-to use ways to do what we’ve always wanted to do online — exchange ideas and information. The Internet has always been social, and it always will be. Still not convinced?

Here’s a handy timeline that might dispel any further historical myths about the true nature of the Internet, and where we’re all going with it, together …

From copyblogger

history_of_social_media

The Value of Social Media

Still not sure about the power of social media?  Below is a series of posts that came from my personal Facebook newsfeed.  The names and identifying information have been obscured for privacy reasons.

Value-of-Social-Media

So what does this tell you?  People use social media to get information.  The person who posted the query is obviously a fan of getting information online.  She has been given two options Dr. ABC and Dr. XYZ.

The next logical step 

Rather than guess at what her next step would be, I called her and asked her what she did.  She was already online so she googled both names and looked for more information about both doctors.  She scanned (her words) their websites and read a few reviews and then chose on of those two doctors.  In essence she used social media to get an answer to a question and then “shopped” the answers all without leaving home.

Was this a scientific study, of course not, just a casual observation.  If you own a business particularly if you rely on the patronage of the “locals”, you need to be involved in social media.  Get a Facebook account and  a Twitter account if for no other reason than to stay in the loop.  Every so often, google your name and the name of your company, see what pops up.  You may be surprised at what you find.

How to Create an Effective Facebook Ad

There are literally millions of ways to create an ad for Facebook.  But creating a Facebook ad and creating an effective Facebook ad are two entirely different concepts.  And creating an effective ad for the “targeted demographic” adds an additional layer of complexity.

Define Effective

Typically the effectiveness of a Facebook ad is measured by whether or not people click on the ad.  The more clicks, the more effective the ad.  Facebook ads need to factor in the following:

High Relevance

Is the ad directed toward the target demographic?

Compelling Call-to-Action

The call-to-action of your ad should motivate a user and generate a sense of urgency to click on your ad now.

Value Proposition

Is the offer worth my time?  Do I want to waste the 10 seconds of my day that it’ll take to click on the ad?

The Facebook Dilemma

This is the methodology that most people use when advertising online. The problem is that advertising online is not the same as advertising via Facebook.  If I enter the phrase “purple dress” in a search engine, the results that are displayed are there because I’m actively looking for a “purple dress”.  It’s what I want, it’s why at that very moment I’m sitting in front of my computer.

If you sell “purple dresses” and run a Facebook campaign, people who are not actively looking for a “purple dress” are seeing your message.  In fact, not only were they not looking for a “purple dress” but your message is getting in the way of what they want to see…namely what their friends and family members are posting.

When advertising on Facebook, the crucial elements of ‘effective’ ads does change a bit. Best put by Dan Slagen at HubSpot, “Your ads now need to be louder and grab the attention of a user so they stop doing what they had initially set out to do on Facebook, and change their course of action to pay attention to your ad. And for Facebook advertisers, that’s a big challenge.”

Next Week – 10 Effective Facebook Ads and Why They’re Effective

Facebook Ads, What You Need to Know

You’ve seen ads on Facebook and think you’d like to start to use them, but you aren’t sure where to begin.  We’ll walk you through how to create a Facebook ad.
  • View the page you want to promote as an administrator.
  • Choose “Build Audience” from the top right tool bar.
  • Select “Create an Ad”.
  • Select “What would you like to do?”
  • Select Advanced Options:
  • Select “Create a New Ad”
  • Start filling in the blanks…
There are a few areas that you may find confusing.

Cost Per Click versus Cost Per Impression

You can toggle your bidding options between costs per impression (CPM) and cost per click (CPC).  Here’s what you need to know about CPC vs. CPM.

  • Cost Per Click (CPC) – The most obvious reason for selecting a CPC bid is that you are only charged when people click on your ads. This works best for people opting for a low budget ($5 to $20 a day).
  • Cost Per Impression (CPM) – This is an advertising model that people running tens, hundreds, or even thousands of ad combinations will often use. The only way to maximize your performance beyond a stated bid rate and figure out the lowest possible bid is to run on a CPM basis.

Choose Your Audience

  • This is the tricky part.  Your goal is to reach your target audience.  After choosing your ads and sponsored stories, you will be able to choose the specific audience for your ad
  • The estimated audience size indicates the total number of people your ad will have the opportunity to reach if your bid and budget are high enough
  • Location, Age and Gender allow you to choose the basic demographics of the audience you want to reach

Campaign, Pricing and Scheduling

  • Name your campaign, select your budget and set the schedule for your campaign
  • You will never pay more than your budget, and you’ll never pay more than the actual cost to reach the people who are more likely to help you achieve your goal.

Test Multiple Ads

  • It’s never a bad idea to run a few versions of the same ad.  Running multiple versions of ads can help you to determine what your target audience will respond best to.
  • Use an original version of the ad as a control against which you can compare your changes.  Never change more than one component of the ad at a time. (this is great advice for offline ads too.)

Measure

Finally, measure your ad performance by using the Ads Manager section

Next week…”What Makes a Facebook Ad Effective?”

Online Reviews in Healthcare…Something New?

Online reviews in healthcare are nothing new.  In 2004 Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman was a Harvard Business School student exploring ideas for promising startups when he caught the flu. His online search for a doctor eventually led to the creation of Yelp Inc.

Both consumers and business owners have been slow to embrace the idea of reviews. There a probably a multitude of reasons for the hesitation.

  • Uncharted territory – For both groups this is new territory and while some people embrace “new” others are loath to change.
  • Look at me – Consumers are a little unsure about posting both positive and negative reviews so publicly. What if they post a negative review and then need to return to that particular healthcare provider?
  • The good, the bad and the ugly – Business owners tend to fear asking a consumer for a review only to realize the review isn’t a happy one.

Who’s Looking and Why?

The ways reviews affect business have not been fully understood—yet.  But what is clear is that the posting and researching of a business via reviews is increasing.

Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. (Local Consumer Review Survey 2012)

In “Scoring Healthcare: Navigating Customer Experience Ratings,” PwC found that 48 percent of 1,000 representative respondents said that they have read online reviews related to health care, such as: doctor ratings, hospital reviews, insurance company information, and pharmacy/medical device reviews. Of this 48 percent, 68 percent said that these reviews influenced their decision – and that they used the info to choose where to get health care.

Seven percent of Consumer Reports readers surveyed said they had plans to change hospitals after reading its recent hospital safety ratings story.

Reviews can function as a tie-breaker.  All things considered equal, timely reviews and consumer feedback become an important—often decisive—ingredient.

Where Should I Be Online?

Good question, easy to answer, difficult to predict.

You want to be where people will find you.

Here are a few places where consumers may go to find reviews about your business.

  • Angie’s List
  • Google+ Local/Reviews
  • Yahoo! Local Listings
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

You also want to make sure you have a system in place to not only find reviews that have been posted about your business, but what to do with them when you get them.

Should I Wait?

Online reviews are “word of mouth” recommendations spread digitally.  You’re success rate is always much higher when you start and control (as much as possible) the conversation.  Jumping in to defend your business or to provide information after the proverbial horse is out of the barn is never a good idea.