The goal of any website should be to capture qualified leads and the best way to achieve this is by letting your prospective clients know that you exist. Getting your website to rank on Google is one of the many challenges all businesses face when promoting and marketing their services. Should you pay for advertising, such as Google AdWords, or put in some effort and play the long game with Organic SEO?
It’s a tough question and one that needs careful consideration before embarking on either, or both, paths. Most businesses don’t know whether to engage in an organic SEO strategy or a paid search strategy, or indeed whether to use both.
Every business is different and operates in a unique space so there is no right or wrong answer, however your business objectives, budget and time constraints will play an important part in the direction you take.
What we do know, from experience no less, is that if you get your marketing strategy wrong it can cost you a lot of time and money, and ultimately do more harm than good.
Organic Search Engine Optimisation
The biggest advantage to having a strong organic SEO ranking is that organic ranking tends to be more trusted than advertised. Google has been around long enough now for users to be wise to when they are being advertised to. And most users know that businesses at the top of Google AdWords have the deepest pockets. Statistics indicate that a high organic ranking attracts 50% more click throughs than the top AdWord listing.
With this in mind, businesses that recognize higher organic rankings means increased trust which in turn equals increased revenue are prepared to pay big dollars to get their site to the top of the pile. However, it’s not as simple as ‘if you build it they will come’. In fact it’s far more complex. Which is where SEO agencies come into play.
At Start Digital we ensure our web sites are Google friendly, increasing their performance and trust rating and in turn their perceived importance in the eyes of the search engine. We make sure your text is relevant, your headings are appropriately tagged (H1 > H6), your sites images are optimised and tagged and that the site is mobile friendly. We pay particular attention to the server performance, site delivery and stability by using services such as MaxCDN (Content Delivery Network) and Cloudflare to help give an added boost! We’ve seen some incredible results for every one of our SEO clients but it’s not an exact science and it is a moving target. Google regularly update their search algorithm which impacts how they rank sites. Most recently Google backtracked on their previous extension to site meta description length — making it short again. Like we said, it’s a moving target.
Organic SEO takes effort, focus and a lot of patience but, once your site is established, it undoubtedly yields incredible long term results that help businesses grow based on merit and trust rather than depth of pockets.
There are many forms of paid online advertising but for this article we’ll focus on Google AdWords. They are after all the biggest and better known player.
AdWords is a great way to elevate your listing to the top of the pile. However, it does come at a price and, if it’s not managed correctly, that price can be pocket emptying at a rapid rate.
Google AdWords charges on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis. That is, when someone clicks on your ad, you’re charged. Popular search terms are more expensive to purchase than those that are less popular. The rate you are charged per click is dependent on your market and where you’d like to rank. A company paying $0.20/click will likely not rank above a company paying $0.30/click. It’s the system man, it’s the system.
When starting a paid marketing campaign it’s important to understand what your customers are searching for when looking for your service. Often it is not the popular expensive search terms, but longtail search terms — which are far cheaper with less competition and a potential goldmine for new enquiries. We recommend doing your research on this because longtail can also equal 10 searches a month which is kind of pointless — in our eyes at least.
The biggest advantage of PPC is that you can control which terms your website will be listed for. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to determine which keyword term yields the best results. Using Googles AdWord management tools, you can easily see which keywords are converting into site visitors.
There really is no right or wrong answer here. It’s all depends on your business, competition and budget. For many businesses, a mixture of organic and paid results often works best. The organic ranking gives your business some authority, trust and longer term results while paid ads provide an immediate high ranking placement and increased visibility.
Whether you’re going to manage your own digital marketing or engage a digital agency, we recommend doing your research. What are your competitors doing? How are they ranking? How are they winning work? What keyword terms do they use? All too often we’ve seen businesses engage digital agencies, knowing that they need to market themselves online but without fully understanding what that entails. Australia’s media and marketing hub Mumbrella note that ‘Ignorance has allowed ad fraud to flourish, because clients aren’t sure what they’re paying for.’ We’ve seen this first hand and, in an effort to counter this, we endeavour to provide as much information as possible and to keep our clients in the loop every step of the way. With respect to our clients most of the time they don’t care what we do, they just care about results. And as a business owner I can understand that.