The best website traffic comes from organic searches, which results from good SEO. Search engine optimization helps websites to rank on the first page of search results for queries potential customers enter. Unfortunately, this does not happen overnight. It takes months and sometimes even years to make it to the top of the first page, especially for competitive keywords, such as PPC and SEO.
Because of this, many business owners rely on ads to boost their website traffic. While this delivers immediate results, it begs the questions of whether pay-per-click ads can hurt your campaign. In most instances, such a strategy actually improves it. It is sometimes best to avoid paid search vs. SEO comparisons, because ideally, every business has a marketing plan that includes both. However, the ratio of one versus the other may significantly affect the success of a marketing campaign.
What Is PPC and SEO?
Search engine optimization is defined as, “The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” Success depends on where the company ranks in search results for particular queries. The techniques involved largely focus on back-end work on websites and content creation to create these positive changes in website traffic. Business owners pay for the initial work but may continue to reap benefits for years to come once they are in place.
Paid search, also known as search engine marketing, operates differently. This strategy relies on ads that companies pay to place in the sponsored section of search engine results. SEM also includes social media, which may allow a company’s posts to appear in the timeline of its targeted audience. Unlike SEO, once the company stops paying for these ad spaces, the momentum dries up.
Still, the differences are not always this clear cut in the paid search vs. SEO debate. Sometimes paid search gets a company in front of enough of the right customers to spark a movement. This may bring visitors to the business who then become regular customers. However, as far as direct website traffic goes, the well runs dry until the company funds another campaign.
Because of these differences, many people pitch the two marketing strategies against each other. Rather than continue along this line, though, these experts recommend that business owners and managers should consider how the two work together and play off each other.
Why Use PPC and SEO Together?
Some business owners may require more convincing when it comes to combining PPC with SEO. There are many reasons business owners should use a PPC and SEO mix instead of a paid search vs. SEO approach. When combined, PPC and SEO can help each other rather than work against one another. Note that technically speaking, PPC does not have a direct impact on SEO. Even so, there are indirect effects that you can take advantage of.
1. Increased Brand Awareness
Most brands have neither the time nor money to focus campaigns exclusively on raising awareness. Only bigger companies usually tackle projects like this, building off the momentum of already existing as a household name. Even so, paid search does help to raise awareness. Over time, this may encourage people to click on organic links or give the business a try, because it feels more familiar.
2. Fine-Tuning Local Leads
For online companies, local leads may not be all that important. However, for brick-and-mortar businesses, location affects the quality of their leads or conversion. When locals do searches via their phones, they will see the PPC ads first. Listings from Google My Business follows next. This is a twofold plan, as when people scroll down to the listing, they may come across your business again. This reinforces it as a viable option.
3. Better Overall Targeting
Marketers often add geo tags to keywords to help make the content more location-specific. This helps to ensure people in a particular locale see the content in search engine results. However, it does not prevent Google from showing the content to everyone else. When doing a paid search vs. SEO comparison, this is one of the benefits PPC does have over SEO. For instance, Entrepreneur.com describes PPC ads as “highly targeted.” On search engines and social media, you can choose demographic factors in addition to location, such as gender, age, interests and even travel habits.
4. Increased Visibility
Step back from viewing marketing from a business standpoint for a moment. Return to your everyday life as a consumer. Now, ask yourself. How many times have you clicked on a link or checked out a website or restaurant because it kept popping up in your feed or search engine results? Virtually everyone with an internet connection falls prey to this at some point. By using two highly effective methods to get your message in front of customers, you create a similar effect.
5. Better PR Control
Marketing gets businesses seen. Public relations affects how people perceive the company. When a small business starts out, the owners typically focus more on marketing than PR. Even so, during a crisis, companies rely on PR to maintain a good brand image and remain in business. Using PPC and SEO together is one of the most effective ways to control what people see about the company in the media.
6. Testing SEO Strategies
Are you new to SEO? Even if your marketer is a veteran of the industry, is your business new? If either of these are true, you may need to test SEO strategies before fully implementing them. PPC ads may help with testing and confirming good keywords. You may also use PPC ads to test ad copy, landing pages and specific deals. On social media platforms that preview a featured picture, such as Facebook, you may also use it to test imagery.
Combining PPC and SEO
As with any marketing mix, how you combine two or more elements has a strong impact on the outcome. Note that failure to consider the following factors may create more problems than solutions. Such inefficiencies can raise more questions in the paid search vs. SEO debate.
1. Consider the Budget
How much money can you spend on marketing? The larger a company’s budget, the more it can afford to spend on paid search. For smaller budgets, some money should go toward PPC. However, to take advantage of a more long-term focus on ROI, invest as much as possible in organic results.
2. Plan for Business Age
How long have you been in business? If your company has been around for a long time, chances are word-of-mouth has already spread regarding what the business does. PPC can help to reach more people and marketers should use it for this. However, already enjoying some degree of popularity allows the company to invest more in a long-term SEO strategy.
3. Optimize the Keywords
Keywords remain at the heart of virtually all SEO and SEM techniques. However, for them to work, you need to focus on optimizing. That means analyzing the data and paying attention to what works and what doesn’t. Too many business owners have access to this information and know the benefits, but never act on it.
As a business owner, you’re already limited on time and resources you can dedicate to a marketing strategy. SEO is constantly evolving and it requires a lot of attention and expertise to execute a strategy that will work for your website. Boostability is the leading provider in small business SEO and white label SEO services. While we don’t specialize in PPC, our team of SEO experts can help you increase your online positioning and reach. Get started with a free SEO analysis and speak with one of our digital marketing experts for more details!