SEO vs PPC
Imagine you are a SME (Small and medium enterprise) and you have a limited budget set aside for your online marketing needs and you are not sure whether to invest in SEO or PPC, how can you possibly decide which will give your organisation the best ROI? First of all lets define these 2 Search Engine Marketing (SEM) options.
Photo by panoramas via Creative Commons
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation which is the process of ensuring that your website is as visible as possible in all the major Search Engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo for the search keywords that your buying customers are using in their searches.
Statistics suggest that web users rarely venture out of the Top 10 search results, if they find what they need in the top listings. In terms of traffic; there is a large difference between even position #2 and #1 in click throughs and hence conversions (sales). If you are not in the top 5 positions, you are missing up to 80% of search engine traffic, and if you are not in the top 10 positions you can expect 1 in 100 hits by comparison to the #1 Position.
Search engine optimisation is the instrument that can make sure that your website will be listed within pertinent search results, and as close as achievable to the top of these results. One way to ensure a positive ROI is to use the services of a SEO firm with an established track record of achievement, knowledge of new trends and techniques, and skill working with the major players in your industry.
PPC stands for “pay per click”. Pay per Click is an advertising strategy where enterprises pay a decided upon amount, each time a user clicks on their ad. Advertisers choose keywords, keyword phrases or keyword groups for which they want their advertisements to appear. Advertisers prepared to pay out the most money for a suitable ad will generally be listed foremost. Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter are three of the most often used PPC programs.
When you setup a PPC campaign you can manage the traffic. While a new site takes time to rank well in search engine results, with PPC you determine when your ad will be displayed. With PPC you can generate almost immediate website visitors. Unlike SERP’s, you control the information and where the visitor is directed to on your website. Another advantage with regard to PPC ads is the opportunity for worldwide visibility. Organic search listings fluctuate in different countries. With PPC you have power over where your ads are seen. A thriving PPC campaign should be targeted not too narrowly and not too broadly. The campaign should direct the visitor who clicks on the ad to a relevant landing page that has information on it associated with the keyword used in the ad campaign.
Difference between SEO and PPC
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and PPC have a number of key differences. SEO is the science of increasing traffic to your web site by improving the internal and external factors influencing ranking in search results. There may be a more expensive cost of optimising the website upfront, however once this is complete any traffic you gain is free.
PPC is a form of Digital marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs) through the use of paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion – this is most often called PPC for Pay Per Click.
Which online marketing method should you use?
There is no hard and fast rule that’s says you should use PPC exclusively or SEO exclusively, it all depends on what your defined objectives for your online marketing campaign are and what kind of time scale you need to achieve these results. If you need results fast then PPC is probably your better option as the results are pretty much immediate whilst implementing SEO takes a fair bit of time. If you are looking at sustained ROI then SEO is the better choice as the work and resources dedicated to SEO repay themselves many times over, within a longer period of time. If you have a limited amount of expertise on the matter and are determined to carry out your online marketing campaign yourself then you should probably use PPC as it takes much less knowledge on the matter to implement. If you are a small business with locality as a USP (unique selling proposition) you should use SEO to get listed within the Google local results.
Results are easier to measure and analyse with a PPC campaign than with SEO so if certain stakeholders are expecting detailed ROI reporting PPC might be the correct element of SEM to implement. Organic listings are generally more trusted than PPC ads so if you have a product or service that is somewhat perceived as unreliable or risky; you should try to use SEO to get in the organic search results. PPC definitely has merit, but overall PPC will leave you with thinner margins and an ever decreasing ROI. The reason for conducting an organic SEO campaign is to appreciably increase your ROI over the long term. If you want to direct visitors to a specific page in your site as opposed to your website as a whole, you should implement PPC as you have the ability to choose your landing page
In conclusion there is no real comprehensive answer to the question of which SEM element to use, you need to examine your objectives, evaluate your resources and see which method will lead customers to choose your website over competitors, whether that means using SEO, PPC or a combination of both.
P.S here is an eye tracking study showing the difference in levels of attention that organic and PPC listing get.
P.P.S A very happy birthday to our very own superstar and fellow blog aficionado, Kate Gamble