SEO vs PPC
When developing a website marketing campaign, Search engine optimisation (SEO) and Pay-per-click (PPC) are the most common routes taken, particularly when trying to boost traffic to your website.
SEO is usually the first port of call for new businesses, but PPC is also beneficial dependent on your target audience. When deciding which marketing campaign to use, you need to understand your prospective customer and how they use search engines to find your products. Ultimately, this will help you decide if SEO, PPC or a combination of the two are best to promote your website and increase traffic.
SEO is notoriously cheaper and easy to get started. Based on keyword research, SEO builds brand awareness by making your page visible in searches that include your target keywords. This builds trust in your brand, as customers genuinely interested in searches containing keywords related to your site will repeatedly see your page turn up in the results. This can also add to your brand integrity and build further trust in your products, as customers tend to want to support smaller businesses that appear in organic results, rather than those who have paid for advertisements.
SEO, if done well, will lead to an increase in site traffic, which will drive brand awareness and give you the opportunity to educate your target audience.
SEO also offers a degree of sustainability that is not available from PPC; once the payment for ads stops, the leads they produce also dries up. Additionally, once SEO has helped you establish a certain position within the results, this cannot be stolen from you by another company outbidding you.
However, things may not be as simple they seem with SEO, after all why would people choose to pay for advertising if SEO worked so well on its own? SEO is completely dependent on search engines. Unfortunately, search engines like to change their search algorithms, meaning there is a real possibility of losing ranking and profits overnight. Additionally, SEO dependence on keywords, means that in highly competitive markets, keyword searches may be completely monopolised by big companies, meaning you don’t appear until customers are pages into their search.
PPC, whilst more complex, does provide more traffic and at a faster rate than SEO. This is mainly due to the 'above the fold' phenomenon; where results appear in the first 2-3 results on the page making them more noticeable.
Paying for ads also mean more control over your search engine entry. You can include keywords, offers, your address, opening hours and even product images; all of which are likely to increase leads.
There are various budgetary considerations with PPC, and any controls should be stringently applied to prevent inadvertent overspending. Just be careful, it's not unheard of for companies to get into bidding wars over certain keywords, and overspend on their budget. It is also important that PPC campaigns are carefully monitored and managed, possibly requiring further investment in specialist staff to manage your advertising.
Why not both?
So what's the best solution for your business? This is impossible to answer without considering the uniqueness of your business, but generally, a combination of both tends to work best.
Most importantly, you need to ask yourself what are your business goals - both short and long-term - and develop a marketing strategy around that.