Are you thinking about how to best promote your new business? Are you considering expanding your existing company’s marketing efforts to digital? If so, you likely find yourself in a daunting situation and have many questions of your own that need to be answered, such as: “What exactly are SEO and PPC?”, “Which should I take on?”, “What can I expect?”. I will help you answer these questions to get you started on your digital journey.
Before we talk about the specifics of SEO vs. PPC, we need to discuss performance tracking. It is important to set up tracking before you begin your SEO and/or PPC efforts so that you can accurately assess resulting performance changes. One of the best things about digital is that there is no need to guess about how much revenue was generated, like you have to do with a television commercial or print ad in a magazine. All of the performance data you want can be available to you.
Setting Up Analytics
If you are not already tracking your web performance, you will need to choose a web analytics provider, get the appropriate tracking code implemented on your website, set up goals for conversion actions that you would like to track and set up eCommerce tracking (if applicable). I recommend Google Analytics, as it is free, comprehensive and the most widely used service. Explore our resources on setting up and using Google Analytics:
- A Guide to Setting Up Google Analytics (free)
- Getting Started with Google Analytics: How to Set Up Google Analytics Correctly from the Beginning (Amazon e-book)
- Getting the Most Value from Google Analytics (free)
If you already have Google Analytics tracking set up, I recommend performing an audit of your Analytics account to ensure that everything is being tracked correctly, as it is oftentimes not in my experience. This also gives you the opportunity to evaluate your website for other conversion actions that you should be tracking that have been overlooked previously such as micro-conversions like newsletter signups or video views.
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your website in order to achieve higher rankings in organic search results. Google, the most used search engine, has more than 200 ranking factors in their algorithm, which is used to rank websites in their search results.
- It’s free! You do not have to pay to appear in organic search results.
- Once your website achieves a high SERP ranking, results are long lasting and you will likely see sustained traffic.
- Organic results tend to have higher click-through rates than paid ads.
- It’s a long-term effort, as it takes time to build page authority and be indexed on search terms.
- Although it’s technically free, fully optimizing your website can be a tremendous investment of time and resources.
Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising model in which you pay for each click your ads receive. Search engine advertising is the most common version of PPC. It involves bidding for your ad to show when someone searches on a keyword that is relevant to your business or offering. PPC advertising is also available on social media websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, where ads are typically served when a user meets demographic, interest or other specifications you have chosen.
- Once you have launched your PPC campaigns, the traffic boost is typically immediate.
- With all of the advertising platforms that offer PPC, you can choose those offering targeting options that can help you easily reach your desired audience.
- PPC traffic tends to have higher conversion rates than organic traffic.
- Unlike SEO, you must pay for your ads to appear. Hence the name—pay-per-click.
- Although the traffic boost is immediate, a time investment is required to learn how to properly develop and optimize campaigns and ads, which is necessary to get the most out of PPC.
- Good short-term results are achievable, but if/when you turn off your campaigns, the associated traffic will also disappear.
SEO vs. PPC: Which One Should You Choose?
The answer to this question is complicated, but in short: it depends. Several factors go into deciding if SEO or PPC is right for you. Ideally, your long-term web strategy should include SEO, even if you choose to start with PPC. For example, SEO efforts, such as improving page content and page speed, also provide a better user experience for PPC visitors, keeping them engaged and making them less likely to abandon your website. For most companies, taking on both SEO and PPC isn’t an option in the beginning, so there are a few things you need to ask yourself before getting started:
How big is my budget?
As a reminder, SEO is free while PPC is not (although both can require significant time commitment to jump-start). If you don’t have the extra budget required to “pay-per-click,” getting started with SEO is likely the right move for you.
What is my timeline?
If you are promoting a time-sensitive offer like an event or sale, the results from SEO will likely take too long to come to fruition. PPC campaigns will start bringing in traffic immediately and can be turned off once the promotion deadline has passed.
What are my goals?
If your goal is to develop a go-to informational website, SEO is the way to go. The ultimate objective is for search engines to view your website as an “authority,” which can be achievable with quality content, backlinks from reputable websites and consistent traffic. If your goal is to sell a niche product, PPC will likely serve you better. Many PPC platforms can help you reach the highly targeted audience you seek.
Now that you have a better idea of where to start, go forth and boost traffic. Questions? Comment below to continue the conversation.