Which is Better, Pay-Per-Click or SEO?
So you’ve got yourself a website. Whether you hired a professional website development company to create it or simply made it yourself, one thing holds true no matter what: you want people to see it. Different businesses have different online goals. For some, visibility means providing a useful resource for current clients to find relevant information about the service they currently receive from you. For others, the website is to serve as a key marketing tool to increase the amount of business that company does in general. Whether that end-goal be sales, calls, requests, subscriptions etc., you will soon be faced with the choice of how to drive more traffic to your site and boost the results it produces, and this choice is not as simple as it first may appear.
There are all sorts of creative and effective ways to optimize your website to receive the best results, but the methods you choose will depend not only on the type of website you have, but also the amount of working capital you have to pull from, the amount of time you are willing to wait for results, and the nature of your company’s work in general. Today we are going to explore the two main online marketing techniques that you can use to increase the amount of traffic brought to your website and elevate your rank, both online and in your industry. We will begin first with the pay-per-click method, and follow with search engine optimization. Both methods have their pros and cons, but choosing the best option for you is important for both your company and your wallet.
What is Pay-Per-Click?
Pay-per-click, also abbreviated simply as PPC, is exactly what it sounds like. Companies simply purchase words or phrases that, when searched by users online, bring links to their websites to the top of that search engine’s result listings. Right now the largest platform on which clicks are sold and advertisements are posted is Google Adwords. Even if you aren’t familiar with the formal name, you have inevitably seen it in action. Think back to your last search submission in Google (probably only a few minutes ago). For many keywords and phrases that you search for, you’ll see the word “ad” written underneath the links in the top positions. This is Google AdWords hard at work.Today more than 95% of Google’s revenue comes from Google Adwords, but competition is always on the rise. Facebook has been searching for new ways to expand into this realm, and has seriously revamped its online marketing platform. While Google holds a strong lead for now, Facebook will soon give it a run for its money. Be sure to keep an eye out.
While PPC sounds overtly simple, it is its complexity that gives its users the results they are looking for. One does not simply purchase the phrase “search engine optimization company in Philadelphia” and then the world sees their ad every time they log onto Google. There are instead a variety of parameters that users choose from in order to refine the breadth of their ad. These parameters also affect the price. First you select where you wish for your ad to appear geographically. For instance, if you are an SEO and online marketing company in Philadelphia, it really makes no sense to extend the reach of your ad to appear to users all the way in California (unless, of course, that is indeed your target audience). Instead you would most likely have the range of your ad include the city of Philadelphia itself as well as the surrounding suburbs. PPC systems will usually allow you select specific regions or a certain mile radius from a central location.
Next you can choose who specifically sees your ads based on their particular interests. Without trudging too deeply into the data-mining ethics debate, search engines and websites are able to learn frequent users’ interests based on what they search for and which sites they visit. Again, you’ve likely been subjected to this form of online marketing. If you visited a website that sells shoes, you probably noticed an increase in the amount of online ads displaying shoes for the next few days or so. By selecting certain criteria through which you filter your viewers, you can assure that your page will only be displayed to those likely to have a genuine interest in what your company offers. This helps you save money by honing in on your target audience. While we could explain each and every one of the particular settings and filters through which you can adjust your PPC campaign, suffice it to say that are tons of different options and combinations of options that you can work with such as age, gender, time of day, season, etc.
This all sounds great and lucrative, to be sure, but the options you select as well as the competitiveness of the words and phrases you choose can quickly bid up the cost of your campaign. If you are a niche business with limited competition, your list of words and phrases probably won’t cost you too much. If, however, you are in an industry with many different competitors all buying up the same words and phrases, targeting the same audience, and there are many different words and phrases relevant to your company, it would be totally normal for one click to cost you more than $100.
What is SEO?
If you are familiar with our blog, you know that we have already written extensively on what SEO is comprised of and the various intricacies of the search engine optimization realm. For more detailed information, scroll back through our various posts and lose yourself in the bountiful knowledge to be found there. To avoid redundancy, we will simply outline the main points of SEO below.
Search engine optimization is a series of sophisticated techniques by which a professional web development team organizes both the design and code of a website in such a way that it is received by Google as the most relevant website for a variety of keywords and phrases. This is not paid advertising, but organic promotion. In other words, if a user were to search for something such as local website optimization company in Philadelphia, the top result would be their naturally, and users would simply click it, because best positions in Google are deemed the most relevant.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of PPC and SEO
As you now know, PPC and SEO are the two main ways to drive traffic to your website. While both of these methods clearly have their advantages, nothing is perfect, and each has its drawbacks. It is important as a business owner to understand what the differences between the two are, and what they mean to you.
- You can very easily select and modify who sees your ads and who does not.
- You can start and stop your PPC campaign at any moment and you yourself set the cap for your budget.
- It can be very expensive, and you must pay every time your ad is clicked. Once you stop paying, your ads stop appearing.
- As a rule, the traffic you receive through PPC methodology is substandard at best. The failure rate hovers around 70–80%.
- For many over-saturated industries, PPC is simply not a feasible tool because the costs of each click are so high that there is no way the benefits can make up for it!
- Unless you are a professional in online marketing, managing a PPC campaign on your own will drain your bank account… guaranteed.
- Your ads can simply blend together with all the others, whether they be your competitors’ or other non-relevant advertisers. It is worth noting that Google is seriously struggling with this issue.
- SEO work that is well-done typically lasts 1–2 years and will continue to produce results well after that.
- It is significantly cheaper when compared with PPC campaigns conducted for the same goals.
- There is a higher level of trust amongst potential visitors, since they see that your position at the top is the result organic relevance.
- With SEO, there is usually much better traffic, for which both the conversion rate is higher and the bounce rate is lower.
- The results of SEO work must take time to compound and grow, with the first significant results appearing around 6–8 months after the campaign begins.
- If you do not allow professionals to handle your campaign, you may get the opposite of what you want. That is, instead of having the highest rank in Google, you may actually fall from where you originally started.
How to Combine Pay-Per-Click and Search Engine Optimization
Those of you with the right intuition may see where we are going with this. One brings about immediate results while the other takes time to grow and compound. The ideal scenario would be to begin both campaigns at the same time. You offset the slow start of SEO with PPC. If you have a professional working with your PPC campaign, you can actually use the results it brings about to fund your SEO work. We always like to describe search engine optimization as a permanent adjustment strategy for your page’s rank in Google. As you see that adjustment begin to take root, you gradually reduce the money you spend on PPC and let the traffic influx become more organic in nature.
We should also note that PPC is very convenient for singular or small ventures. For instance, you are testing a new product in a specific area and what to gather statistics on it reception. Seasonal sales may also be worth using PPC. It is fast, targeted, and highly controlled spending.
It would be a fallacy to claim PPC is better than SEO or vice versa because each has different strategic purposes. However, in the long run, we have to admit that search engine optimization does offer a more preferable outlook, but this all depends on the type of person you are and the type of business you run. Both of these tools can be highly effective for online marketing if done correctly. It should also be said that PPC is simply the better strategy for some companies while SEO is better for others. Again, circumstances will always dictate what works best.
Combining the two will guarantee maximum efficiency for your company and its online pursuits, but we recommend that you do so only after you completely understand not only how each methodology works individually, but how they will work in concert. We at Direct Line Development offer a full range of online promotion services, including both pay-per-click and search engine optimization, as well as a combination of the two. If you are curious about how these methods could work for your business, call or write to us and we will gladly run a free audit of your site’s current promotion outlook. See you at the top!
Original publication can be read in our blog!