SEO or PPC?
Whether you are new to the world of Internet Marketing or an abiding veteran, the choice between SEO and PPC is one that will be different for every site, company, and situation. Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click advertising are the two most widely used forms of Search Engine Marketing and most popular techniques to drive traffic to your website. The goal of both of these is to drive traffic to your website via search engines. But which one is best for you? Sometimes, the answer is actually both.
As a starting point, it is important to fully understand the concepts and purposes of SEO and PPC. Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting traffic from the “free” or “natural” listings on search engines, such as Google or Bing. SEO is like a marathon, where it takes a lot of time to see the results of your hard work. Your website is modified or improved to help it appear higher in the organic listings. These listings or ranking positions are determined by factors such as the popularity of your links and the relevancy of your content, but changes definitely won’t happen overnight. Pay-Per-Click advertising allows you to display ads in the sponsored results section of each search engine’s results page, and when that ad is clicked, you are charged a fee. If you want immediate clicks to your website, PPC is a much shorter race—like a short sprint—because you can immediately start appearing on the first page of results. Your rankings with PPC are determined by how much you bid on keywords, the quality score of your ads, and the landing pages that the ads point to.
The main factor in deciding between the two is the kind of budget you have to work with. To go in depth on which online marketing technique is appropriate for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:
If you are first launching a website or even a brand new company, you want to get your new site/name out there as soon as possible. This is also beneficial if you have special promotions or events that need exposure and cannot be planned months in advance.
You are in Control—
With PPC ads, you have control over which page the “clicker” is sent to. By having control over the landing page, you are able to make sure that the visitor is seeing the most relevant information to what your ad was displaying. The ads that are displayed are written by you and you are able to test them to see which ad performs the best, which landing page is better for visitors, etc.
You have the ability to choose which keywords you want to bid higher on, how much you want to spend in a day, and even the ability to pause your campaign if you are running low on your budget. You are also able to set the placement of your ads and the location where you want your ad to be shown.
Limited Long Term Benefits—
Once the money stops, the ads stop. While you may gain some branded traffic down the road, that unbranded search traffic will completely disappear when the ads stop running.
PPC listings look like ads and are purposely placed where they are. Many people dislike ads, refuse to click on them or frankly just have no idea what they are and do not trust them.
Costs Add Up—
Even though you have the ability to control your PPC campaign budget, costs do begin to pile up and you may end up spending more money than you originally planned. Traffic to your site with PPC is completely dependent on the money you pour into it. If the keywords you are targeting are highly competitive, they may be expensive and can drain your budget quickly.
86% of search engine users reportthat they trust organic search results over paid search results. In fact, it’s been said that searchers simply get annoyed with the advertisements that come up during searches and do not even think about clicking on them.
Long Term Benefits—
Once all the SEO best practices are implemented – like creating quality, keyword-rich content and a strong linking profile – the results will outlast your efforts. The return on investment for SEO will continue to climb long after PPC has peaked.
Relevant, Targeted Traffic—
SEO allows for the use of long-tail keywords, which are three to five word phrases that refine a search term to be more targeted. For example, someone who is searching for “shoes” probably is just doing some casual window shopping, but someone who is searching for “red sneakers size 9” is someone who is further along in the buying process. With long-tail keywords comes more relevant traffic.
Forces Website Improvements—
A main difference between PPC and SEO is that with PPC, you pay for the visitors, but with SEO, you earn visitors by improving your site and following best practices. It may take a lot of work, but it’s a good thing in the long run because of the improvements to your site’s usability.
Ever-changing Google Algorithms—
A top complaint about SEO is that all of the work you put into your site to get your website on the first page results could be affected completely if Google releases new algorithm changes (which they do, at a rate of about 1.2 changes per day).
Required On-Going Maintenance—
Keyword research, content updates, link building and more are all factors of SEO that need to be regularly monitored and updated in order for your site to maintain rankings or to increase them.
Compared to the instantaneous results of PPC, the time lag with SEO can be a downfall. It can take anywhere from one to three months to see any increase in rankings or traffic. This also depends on how much optimization is needed for your site to even be ready to launch.
So should you start running that marathon or lace up the sneakers and begin the sprint? That question is up to you to decide. Both types of search engine marketing need to be considered, then from there you can determine whether SEO, PPC, or even both options are best fit for your needs, goals and budget.
What are your thoughts? Which did you choose, or do use both methods for your website? Feel free to post your preference, success stories, and more!
“Offering ancient wisdom on how to use skill, cunning, tactics and discipline to outwit your opponent.”
Have you ever read The Art of War by Sun-Tzu? Well, in case you haven’t, I’ll give you a quick overview.
Dear College Graduate/New Internet Marketer,
Congratulations! You worked your tail off, followed the tips for studying SEO in school and landed your dream job in SEO! You may be experiencing a lot of different emotions right now… excitement, relief, eagerness, nervousness, sadness in leaving your classmates, etc. Well, brace yourself! The days of waking up at 11am and going to the all-you-can-eat dining hall may be over, but trust me, your life is about to change for the better 😉
Have you ever seen the movie The Pursuit of Happyness? If you haven’t, here is a synopsis. It is a classic rags-to-riches movie where Christopher Gardner, played by Will Smith, overcomes unfathomable odds to become a stockbroker for Dean Witter. How did he do it you may be asking? Well, as Trevin stated in his previous letter, he “hustled.” Gardner developed a mindset where failure was not an option, and he strove to reach his goals – regardless of the price.
“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”
I would like to challenge you to develop a similar mentality as you enter your career in Internet marketing. Initially, leaving the classroom where you were probably at the top of the totem pole (you wouldn’t have gotten the job if you weren’t!) and entering an environment where coworkers have more knowledge and experience can be a difficult pill to swallow. One of the greatest benefits of SEM is that if you develop the mindset mentioned before, the rate of change in the industry is so great that you can bridge the gap sooner than you think. But how??
First off, classes may be over but you HAVE to become a student once again. Before you start the job, invest $20 to $40 in a book that will provide you with a foundation of mostly basic knowledge, but some advanced information as well (SEO: An Hour a Day is a good place to start). Here is the kicker… you actually have to READ IT! In college, you may have been able to get away with skimming chapters and playing Angry Birds in class, but this is an entirely different ball game. Read it once, twice, even three times… take notes, create flashcards; do whatever you have to do to get that information engrained in your mind.
Secondly, take this knowledge and apply some of it to your personal website or blog! SEO and SEM are great to read about it, but I would argue that it won’t really click in your mind until you try it out. Take chances! If you break your personal site once and a while, it’s okay (hopefully you backed it up)! Test what you are learning to see the direct impact your efforts can have.
If you remember one tip from this letter, remember this next point: Some of the most impactful knowledge I learned in Internet marketing came when I was listening to others on the phone. Open a Word document and start a daily notes journal. Did your coworker use a phrase that you are not familiar with? Jot it down and look it up! Did they state a statistic that would be beneficial to learn? Memorize it! Did they have a direct and informational response to the client? Remember it to use later! My point is there is a wealth of knowledge that you have at your disposal aside from the normal training sessions. Take advantage of it!
Next up, find a concentrated area of Internet marketing that you are interested in and become the office expert in it! After work, go home and study Schema.org markup. Learn so much about it that you become the go-to person in the office for any and all questions on that subject. After accomplishing this, move to another topic. Make your foundation so strong that not even Google can bring you down.
Another beneficial tip is to call your friends and family. Wait… what?! Exactly. Call them to explain what your job actually entails, what you are learning and what results your hard work has helped to achieve. More than likely, your parents don’t know the specifics behind SEO. By practicing and explaining the work you do to your parents, you will be a lot better equipped to explain and answer questions your future clients have down the road.
Lastly, set 30 minutes to 1 hour aside every day, outside of work, to research and find the day’s latest Internet marketing articles. Ask colleagues what their favorite sources are, set up a Google Reader, visit Inbound.Org and comment/interact on different blogs to improve your SEM credibility on the web.
This letter could go on forever but I am going to stop it here. In summary, if you want to become one of the top Internet marketers in the industry, it will be difficult but it is not impossible. Become a student once again and go get it. Period.
Google introduced a “freshness” algorithm update to its search results yesterday. This change will help users find pages relating to recent events, news and products much easier and more accurately. This algorithmic update is based off of their caffeine infrastructure. Google claims this change will make results more relevant for its users, which they believe is what truly sets their company apart from that of their rivals.
The last big update to the Google algorithm, known as Panda, affected only 12% of searches, while this update is will affect 35% of search queries (what users typed in the search bar in Google).
At the moment, you can see these changes taking affect when you search for items involving Basketball, Microsoft and the Wall Street Journal, but eventually this will spread across the board.
Read more about it:
- From Google – Giving You Fresher More Recent Search
- From Search Engine Land – Google Search Algorithm Change For Freshness To Impact 35% Of Searches; Twitter Firehose Remains Off
Here is a White Board Friday video from SEOMoz I recommend watching:
Steps You Can Take:
- Add a blog, news and/or articles section to your website (if you haven’t already).
- Have an effective presence on Social Media channels. Communicate with your followers/fans directly rather than automating your Tweets/messages.
- Facilitate product reviews from the general public on your website. Take Amazon for example. With millions of reviews from real people who have actually used the products, not only do more users trust the products they purchase from Amazon, Google trusts their content more. There is no other particular type of content that has the same impact on the search results; and with the freshness update to Google’s algorithm, this content is a great way to ensure your website is updated on a regular basis.
Note: When you bring together your Twitter followers, blog followers and Facebook fans, you create a community. It is important to enhance that community and continually provide fresh content through reviews, debates, chats, etc.
An example of creating a community:
- Pick a product – (i.e. ceramic cookware)
- Create a target audience – Moms (target blogs made specifically for moms)
- Get in touch with the bloggers of said blogs about your product
- Offer free products to the bloggers in return for a blog post dedicated to a review surrounding your product
Return you will experience:
- Links from each blog
- User generated content
- Word of mouth to other mothers and their followers
- “Domino effect” links
- Tweets and Facebook “Likes”, translated: social signals, (read: even more links)
- Example: Type in “ceramic cookware” in Google and you will see “Xtrema” as a result of doing just this!
How to create dynamic content with the tactics outlined above
Let’s say I write a blog post on SEO for the WebpageFX blog. I then make sure to tag the blog post for ‘SEO’. This subsequently creates a snippet on the SEO category page, which brings in the top 3 latest blog posts written for SEO. This in turn not only keeps the blog fresh, but also the SEO category page fresh.
Like Blogs, you can create snippets and ensure continual fresh content in this way. In fact, this will even add to the conversation you are currently having with your followers. All the better, is it not?
I am not certain whether Google considers brand new links coming into a website to be “fresh content”, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t either. Links have always been an important factor for SEO and will most likely remain one of the most important factors in the future.
Once again you can create a snippet for this type of content. For example, if someone writes a review about WebpageFX’s SEO services, the snippet would automatically pull the review and subsequently place it on the SEO page.
Actual car review:
It’s as simple as that, well for the developers I mean :).
Google is certainly rolling these changes sooner than later. Let me know what your thoughts are about this change.
Sometimes the simplest advice is the best advice.
Leona and I spend a lot of time doing some really high-level SEO stuff like server configurations, targeted linkbuilding and universal search optimization.
But its good to get back to the basics every once in awhile!
Believe it or not Google actually has a few resources scattered about their web properties that do a great job of explaining SEO, for beginners and advanced marketers alike.
Here they are: