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.

SEO vs. PPC: What Are They?

You have two options when it comes to boosting traffic to your site: SEO (or “Search Engine Optimization”) and PPC (or “Pay per Click”). But what do these actually mean? All jokes aside, you really should know what these acronyms mean for your digital marketing campaigns. Let’s dive into each.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Wikipedia defines SEO as “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as ‘natural,’ ‘organic,’ or ‘earned’ results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.”

In plain English, SEO is the “free” or “organic” way to earn traffic to your website. SEO means employing different strategies to affect search engines’ algorithms in order to get a good ranking in their searches. The lower your ranking (ie. being #1 in search results) gets your website more visibility, which in turn means more visitors coming to your site. In order for SEO to work, you need to be in the top results of a search, because, let’s face it, when’s the last time you looked at the 10th result in Google, let alone the second page? In order to be in the top results for searches related to your business or website, your website must be optimized for SEO.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Wikipedia defines PPC (also known as cost per click or CPC) as “an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which advertisers pay the publisher (typically a website owner or a host of website) when the ad is clicked. It is defined simply as “the amount spent to get an advertisement clicked.”

To break it down, essentially PPC is the “paid” option (notice “PAY” per click) to earn traffic to your website. Ads are set up to be shown on different publishers’ sites and displayed when a relevant keyword is searched or when the page has relevant content to the ad set. These campaigns are what you see as “sponsored ads” on sites like Google or Facebook. You pay each time a visitor clicks the ad to your site. If your ad is never clicked, you are never charged.

There is a big different between these two traffic strategies. Your marketing needs and budget determine which strategy or mix of these strategies is best suited to meet your marketing goals. We will discuss the difference between the two and pros and cons of each in the coming weeks.

Pay Per Click and Google AdWords Are Not the Same Thing

It’s important that you understand the distinction between pay per click (PPC) and Google AdWords.

Pay Per Click

PPC is a model of Internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is the single most popular PPC advertising system in the world. The AdWords platform enables businesses to create ads that appear on Google’s search engine and other Google properties.

AdWords operates on a pay-per-click model, in which users bid on keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements. Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of AdWords advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids.

Why is it important to understand the difference?

A lot goes into building a winning PPC campaign: from researching and selecting the right keywords, to organizing those keywords into well-organized campaigns and ad groups, to setting up PPC landing pages that are optimized for conversions. Search engines reward advertisers who can create relevant, intelligently targeted pay-per-click campaigns by charging them less for ad clicks.

If your ads and landing pages are useful and satisfying to users, your cost per click is lower leading to higher profits for your business. Understanding how you’re being charged for clicks is important. Is the cost of the click being artificially elevated? Are clicks coming from valid potential consumers or a complex system of fake networks designed to deliver the “agreed” upon number of clicks (don’t sign a contract that includes a pre-determined number of clicks). Fraudulent PPC schemes are endless. Don’t become a victim to click fraud.

Unfortunately wherever corruption can occur, it will. If you want to start using PPC, it’s important to do it right. Google AdWords accounts for 85% – 90% of all PPC. If you’re paying a company to generate a pre-set number of clicks know the reputation of the company well and educate yourself about the dangers of click fraud.

The goal of PPC advertising is not to accumulate clicks. The goal of PPC advertising should be the same as it is with most advertising, to generate leads at or below your average cost per lead.


How to Rank in Google for the Town Beside Yours

Your business has reached page one and you’re doing everything you can to make sure it stays there. Now you’d like to take steps to reach page one for Google searches outside of your physical address location.

For example…your office is located in Smithtown, PA and your ranking for Smithtown, PA is #1. Now you’d like to rank #1 for Riverside PA, Fairview PA and Pleasant Valley PA three towns where many of your customers reside. Not only do you want to rank #1, but you’d like it to happen as quickly as possible. Optimizing your website for the town in which your business is located is one thing. Optimizing your business for nearby towns is an entirely different ball game.

Google’s “Rules”

Google has a million rules, but I’ll give you an overly simplified, condensed version of the rules.

It’s all about Google.

So what’s good for Google’s customers is good for Google. Google makes a living off a searchers ability to find what they want to find. If you live in Pleasantville ND and you Google plumbers, Google knows you aren’t looking for a plumber in Anchorage AL. If Google were to display results for plumbers in Anchorage AL you would either search again or heaven forbid use ANOTHER search engine. There’s a limited number of ways to accomplish this but the most efficient way is with Google AdWords.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is a pay per click service offered by Google. The fee will vary depending on the competitiveness of the market and the desired geographical radius.

To put it simply, advertisers can bid on keywords to have their text or image ads appear on Google’s search network (search engine results pages) when someone searches for those keywords or on Google’s content network when the page being viewed is relevant to those keywords. Bing and Yahoo have their version of AdWords, but the results are less than spectacular.

Bidding is competitive with the bid range determined by the popularity of the keyword being bid on. In theory, the higher the bid the greater the likelihood that an advertiser’s ad will appear on the first page of Google’s search results.

However, Google uses a complicated and proprietary system to assign a “quality score” to the landing pages to which ads direct viewers. If a landing page does not meet Google’s quality standards, the advertiser faces a choice: bid an unusually high amount to have the ad shown or improve the quality score of the landing page.

If you’re interested in utilizing Google AdWords as part of your online strategy, contact Obelis Media more information today.