SEO or PPC — Which One?

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Small businesses and new companies want the best return possible from any advertising or promotion they undertake. When it comes to creating a website and promoting it to potential customers within search results, there are often conflicting opinions from different people on the most effective way to do this.

The (Obviously) ‘Ideal’ Scenario

Use both. Whilst at first this may seem like a poor suggestion as budget is limited, it’s not too expensive to make use of both organic and paid search, at least initially.

Google AdWords and Bing Ads do occasionally offer free credit to new advertisers, which allows you to take advantage from instant exposure as long as your campaigns are setup properly. Both search engines provide free local listings which can rank your website quite high for relevant local searches.

If your website is “SEO friendly” and Google has some of your pages within their index already, then Webmaster Tools can help you make your pages more compliant with SEO best practice.

Which One? Well, Why Any?

Some aspects of SEO aren’t suitable for every website. Some business owners want to retain an air of mystique around their products by not adding any descriptive text. Ranking an image-only website can be a long, hard struggle.

Pay per-click advertising is also not suitable for every website. High bids and low conversion rates can make you think that it’s not the best medium for success.

However, you can gain insight from both, and use information from one to benefit the other.

PPC First, Then SEO

Running a pay per-click campaign can give you

  • A fair idea of whether search results are a good place to promote your services
  • Detail of level of demand for your goods and services
  • Inspiration for website content topics
  • Accurate indicators of performance of various keywords
  • New keyword ideas

As with any kind of promotion or marketing you need to set some aims, objectives and events to measure in order to see how the campaign performs.

Some key performance indicators could include:

  • Sales via website
  • Sales via telephone
  • Enquiries
  • Time a visitor spends on a page
  • Time a visitor spends on the website
  • How many pages of the website people visit

Using Google Analytics and simply asking callers how they heard about your services, you can record performance easily.

It’s from here that you can apply these findings to an SEO plan.

Data-driven SEO Campaign

Ask yourself:

  1. Which keywords performed best in terms of sales?
  2. Which keywords led to enquiries?
  3. Which keywords didn’t send sales/enquiries but performed well in other areas (time on site, etc)
  4. Which keyword combinations could you use for writing new website content?

If your initial PPC campaign led to sales and enquiries then it’s a good idea to continue with it. If it’s not cost-effective but did bring in sales then proper PPC management can help you bring down costs whilst maintaining sales.

Using the best-performing terms in SEO is likely to have a really positive effect on traffic and sales — you’ll rank well in organic results whilst also having a prominent advertisement in the PPC section of results.

If there were no sales or enquiries from PPC you may be thinking it’s not the best platform. Keywords that sent visitors who stayed on the website for a long time or visited a high number of pages would perhaps perform better over a longer period of time, making them ideal candidates for use in Search Engine Optimisation, where traffic is “free”.

Website content ideas can come from visitors questions you find in keyword phrases – e.g. if someone clicked on a PPC advertisement after searching for “what is X”, “How do I use X” and related queries. By writing this content you can help answer visitor’s queries in a direct way whilst gaining exposure for your products and services.

Integrate For Maximum Effect

Conversely, if you have an existing amount of well-performing traffic from organic search results, you already have some keywords that may do well in Paid Search. That additional place on a popular search engine results page can be a valuable asset.

No promotion or marketing strategy should focus solely on a single channel. By making use of two channels that are similar you can use the contribution of one to increase the performance of another.


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