So, when it comes to increasing the traffic to your website visa the major search engines you have two options to consider – Pay Per Click (PPC) or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
is the process where you pay for the traffic using the advertising programmes presented by Google, Yahoo and Bing. Simply put you pay for ads that are placed in the sponsored ads section of the search engine results. You are then charged a fee for each ad – this is dependent upon how competitive the selected keyword is – whenever a viewer clicks on your ad and goes to your website.
is the process of optimising your website to so that chosen keywords are indexed and appear in a high position on the search engines. The search engine results for these organic or natural keywords are ‘free’. NB. However before you consider the traffic as free you need to factor in the time/ effort put in to achieve the results by yourself or a 3rd party. Whereas PPC can achieve page 1 positions the same day with SEO there is no certainty how long it will take to achieve results – weeks, months or in some cases never.
So which of the two approaches is better and the most cost effective/ achievable? Well it first of all depends on your budget and also the urgency i.e. the time scale you need the traffic delivered by.
If you need more traffic quickly and you are happy to pay for it then PPC is the most logical route. If, however you have no or little budget then your options are limited and your time may be better spent trying to obtain organic keyword rankings.
Other key factors you need to consider are:
Are your keywords targets affordable with relation to your return on investment ratio or are they far too expensive. In some industries CPC’s can be as high as £50-60 e.g. ‘car insurance’ or ‘SEO’. If you are targeting these terms it makes it almost impossible for new advertisers or entrants to the market place to generate a profit from this PPC traffic.
Before embarking on SEO you need to know how ‘achievable’ are your goals? One way to estimate this is to enter your keywords into the Google Keyword Planner Tool. This clever tool will give an indication of your estimated competition level along with the number of other advertisers bidding on your keywords as well as the average CPCs.
In competitive sectors you can find that the organic results for your targeted keywords can be dominated by authority websites. If this is the case they are practically impossible to displace without a very significant investment of money and time.
For example using the ‘car insurance’ example again is your work going to dislodge heavy weight competition websites such as the AA, Compare the market, Tesco, Confused, Go Compare, RAC? In such instances it makes more sense to acquire your traffic via PPC campaigns.
It is amazing how many businesses still prefer to launch straight into an organic search campaign bypassing the PPC route. But if you do this, aren’t you going in blind?
As we have established the SEO process can be long and protracted, so you need to be 100% certain you are targeting the right keywords for your business/ products. This means identifying keywords can deliver worthwhile traffic volumes (what’s the point of achieving organic page 1 results for a keywords that in the real word no-one searches for?) and also to ensure that you are setting achievable goals and not chasing the end of a rainbow.
If you take a step back and re-evaluate your needs you’ll soon appreciate the key benefit of being in possession of targeted data which provides you firm ground upon which to make a decision.
The importance of getting enough data or ‘information’ to enable us to make an informed decision affects everyone the world over.The Department Of Applied Mathematics at Hong Kong University put it far better than we ever could….
Data is the basis for all scientific research – PPC and SEO are no different. Collecting good quality data plays a vital role in supplying objective information so that analytical understanding of a problem and hence solution can be obtained.
Making decisions on the basis of poor quality data is risky and may lead to disastrous results, as the situation may be distorted and hence all subsequent analyses and decision making will rest on a shaky ground.
A focused PPC campaign can provide an efficient set of performance data that can be extracted and analysed within a Keyword Insight Report which can in turn be used to formulate your SEO strategy.
Onsite analytics can also be used to determine how your website is performing and which pages need work from a user/ search engine point of view. Again this onsite analysis can be used to drive an SEO keyword strategy that can be implemented across keyword specific landing pages.
Google’s AdWords platform for analysing data now allows both paid and search traffic to be pulled into one report highlighting the strong links between SEO and PPC marketing. This valuable insight will help improve overall marketing performance.
Here’s what Google says:
Previously, most search reports showed paid and organic performance separately, without any insights on user behaviour when they overlap. The new paid & organic report is the first to let you see and compare your performance for a query when you have either an ad, an organic listing, or both appearing on the search results page.
This new reporting process provides a number of useful options:
This greater transparency within AdWords should allow online marketing to be optimised for maximum conversions across both SEO and PPC.
Whilst Organic (SEO) and paid search strategies rely on similar best practices as demanded by Google and other major search engines, in our opinion a well constructed and managed PPC campaign will always have an immediate and positive knock on effect by dripping down into SEO. This doesn’t necessarily translate back the other way.
We consider that there is a logical progression from PPC leading down to SEO. By rolling out PPC first some key benefits will be:
It is important to understand it isn’t always a question of one or the other. By combining the two (PPC and SEO) you can achieve powerful results. You need to ask yourself some of the questions listed above to pin down the optimal mixture of PPC and SEO for your business.
Hopefully the points raised will go some way to improving your understanding of natural and paid search strategies and how combined they can help each other to improve your visibility on the search engines and ultimately your visibility to potential clients.