When should you use Pay Per Click Advertising or SEO. Is it a straight shoot out? Can there only be one winner for you?

By Steve Dye –  When a client comes to us asking for a new website design one of the first things we always ask them is “how are you going to promote your website?”

We know we can build a magnificent website with all the latest features and functionality but if the right audience does not visit that website – and take the right actions while they are there – then that website will ultimately be judged a failure.

Clearly we don’t want that scenario. Hence the question “how are you planning to market your website?” How will your target audience find your site? And crucially how will you make sure they ‘convert’ while on your site. By this I mean convert to become customers, subscribers, prospects or contributors. In short, a “convert” will have done the thing that you wanted them to do while on the website.

So – if we look at the key question of how to drive traffic to your website. You have a number of options or strategies that you can use here. These would include; offline marketing, online (or Internet) marketing and Social Media marketing. For this article I have separated Social Media out from Internet Marketing though you could easily argue it comes under that banner.

If we look at the two main options available under Internet Marketing we have Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Paid Search Marketing a.k.a. Pay Per Click (PPC).

For the uninitiated here it’s time for a couple of definitions;

SEO is all about getting your website on to the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPS) ‘organically’. Work is done to ensure that when someone uses a search engine to search for a product or service that you offer, it is your website (or web page to be more accurate) that appears on the first page of search results.  Studies show that in truth, being on page one of Google is not enough, you really need to be in the top 4 or 5 places to take full advantage of the traffic that will then flow to your website.

PPC is to do with the sponsored searches that appear alongside the organic search results. The sponsored searches, or Ads, may be displayed in a shaded area above the organic search results (no more than 3 and not always displayed) or listed down the right hand side of the results pages. You will set up a campaign based on a selected number of keywords or phrases – when someone searches via a search engine and uses one of the phrases in your campaign then your “Advert” will be displayed. If the searcher then clicks on your advert  they will be taken to your website – in fact to a specific page in your website – and you will be charged for that click – hence the term Pay Per Click.

Many people seem to believe that they need to make a choice between using an SEO strategy or a PPC strategy.  This is not the case and we certainly don’t hold this view. In our experience there is much to be gained by developing an Internet marketing strategy that utilises both PPC and SEO.

If we were working with you to put an Internet marketing strategy together we would be looking to take the best from PPC and SEO. So what are the pros and cons of PPC and SEO?

PPC – key benefits;

  • Hit the market quickly. The main benefit with PPC is the fact that you can be on page one of Google (or other search engines) within a few hours of your campaign going live. This could prove tremendously powerful if you are trying to hit the market very quickly. With SEO it could take months before you get near page one.
  • Highly manageable. PPC is highly manageable and controllable. You will decide how much you want to spend on PPC and the campaign can be designed around that monthly budget. Once your budget limit is reached your adverts simply stop displaying until your budget is replenished.

You can also set the amount that you are prepared to pay for each click. The average ‘click costs’ will vary depending on how competitive that phrase is. Click cost will range from a few pence to a few pounds.

If you need to pause or stop the campaign for any reason this can be done instantly.

  • Precise Audience Targeting. Because you choose the keywords or phrases that will trigger your advert to be displayed when someone enters those search terms into a search engine, this means that you can tightly define the type of audience that will see your advert.

You can also target the geographical areas that you want to cover. For example if your target audience is all within 30 miles of your business you can set your PPC campaign to only display your ads to people within that geographical area.
Therefore your advert – if written correctly will be appealing directly to your target audience at exactly the moment when they have chosen to look for the products or services that you offer. Compare this to traditional broadcast advertising which is fundamentally a mass appeal to everyone in the hope that a few of those will be in a research or buying ‘mode’.

  • Detailed Reporting. The systems which control the PPC programmes also provide comprehensive reporting information. You will be able to track such things as number of times your advert has been displayed (impressions) the number of times your avert was clicked and the Click Through Rate (CTR) the amount you pay per click and the average click cost. This is just some of the campaign management information that is available to you to help you refine and manage your campaigns.

SEO – Key benefits;

  • Cost effective marketing. £ for £ you will be hard pushed to find a more effective marketing strategy than SEO. Apart perhaps from a properly managed Social Media campaign, SEO will put your website in front of real people who are actively searching for the products or services that you are offering. Given the huge increase in online search volumes – away from the traditional use of Yellow Pages or local directories – means that a well-managed SEO programme is the best way to put your business in front of your target audience exactly when they are prepared to receive your message.
  • People trust organic searches more than PPC Adverts. The statistics show that searchers trust organic search returns more than they do the paid adverts and so are more likely to click on an organic search result than a sponsored link. I believe that this is especially true when the searcher is looking for information rather than a product. Personally if I was looking online for a specific product and price was my main motivation, then I would not care if I clicked a sponsored link (paid advert) or an organic search result. Where I am searching for information however I always prefer the organic results to the paid search results. I feel they have more credibility.
  • SEO is less expensive than PPC long term. If you are looking to develop a long term (over 6 months) strategy for marketing your business online then SEO will be the winner over PPC. This is because once the hard work has been done and you have achieved a page one position on Google then the cost of maintaining that position should reduce significantly and at that point you start to enjoy “free” traffic.  Contrast this to a PPC campaign where you will always be paying for every click or visit to your site regardless of the outcome.
  • A Search Engine Optimised website is a better website. To get a website SEO’d requires a lot of attention to be paid to the sites content (among many other factors). Sites that are in a professional SEO programme should provide a better site visitor experience. Their content should be well structured and presented, pages should load quickly, all links should be working, content will be regularly refreshed etc. In short the site will be properly set up and well managed and maintained which will make it more appealing to the visitor.

If your business needs to be found online then the good news is that you have a choice over how you achieve that result. The main thing is to have a clear view of what you are trying to achieve and then to apply the best strategy to achieve it. Depending on your objectives you can use PPC or SEO but be aware that a combination of both could be the best way to deliver you the ideal results you are looking for.

For more information on this subject, or to arrange for a free no obligation consultation with one of our Internet marketing specialists, please contact Steve@searchinternetmarketing.co.uk or call 07816 998341. We would be delighted to talk to you.