You've got your website up and running. Now it's full steam ahead.
Now that you know the value of having a website to promote your business, you'll have to decide how to best grab the attention of those you most want to reach. There are literally millions upon millions of websites out there in cyberspace. How do you get your site noticed?
There are two main ways to generate traffic to a site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC). So, what exactly are they? What's the difference between the two? And what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Let's jump on board and find out.
SEO vs. PPC: What's the Difference?
SEO and PPC are both tools used in search engine marketing that help direct traffic to websites. The basic difference between the two is that SEO helps you generate organic traffic (meaning that your website shows up at the right place at the right time) while PPC, as the name suggests, must be paid for whenever a user clicks on an ad.
SEO is the practice of using clear, descriptive, and relevant content that also gets your site to show up in relevant online searches. Content will typically include certain keywords that are highly likely to be used in a search. It's also helpful to have a good number of quality sites, such as relevant blogs or positive reviews of your products or services, that link to yours, as these will impact your rankings in a positive way.
PPC is basically paid search advertising where website owners bid to use certain keywords or phrases to have a publisher (in this case a search engine) give them a prime spot in search engine results pages (SERPs). Website owners only pay when a user actually clicks on their ad (note that there are other forms of pay-per-click advertising including display ppc, video ppc, and in-context ppc).
How much the cost per click will be for such advertising depends on several factors, including how popular the keyword or key phrase is, how many advertisers want to use it, and how many similar websites with ads with those words are out there clamoring to be seen.
As a small business owner, which method is right for you?
If the word FREE makes your eyes light up and your heart start palpitating, you may be inclined to go for SEO without even batting an eye. However, it's not really that simple.
Search engine marketing is not the easiest thing to do and whether you use SEO or PPC to market your site, unless you have a strong knowledge and background in this area, you may not be successful in getting your site to rank high in search engine results pages. As a result, you'll likely need to pay for the services of an SEO expert. Additionally, both SEO and PPC have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages.
Ready to pick up speed and take a look at each of them?
Pros and Cons of SEO
- Longer Lasting: Unlike PPC where content disappears when you stop paying, SEO can last a long time in search engine results.
- Ranking is Always Accessible: Whether a user does a search at 2:00 AM or 2:00 PM, your ranking will always remain accessible. In addition, if you continue to have high rankings, your branding will appear more positively to an audience searching for your products, services, or content.
- Tends to Generate More Traffic: Research has found that when comparing SEO and PPC dollar for dollar, SEO is by and large the more profitable vehicle over the long term.
- No Cost to Appear in Organic Search Results (once you are there, but you do have to pay to get there).
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- Stiff Competition: This is highly dependent on the industry you work in, but it does create challenges when you want your site to show in the top ten listings.
- Requires a Greater Investment of Time: Even with the best SEO help, it will likely take several months of hard work to get your site to attain and maintain a high ranking. Patience will be required.
- Less Control: Unlike PPC, you can't pay search engines to place you in a top spot. Additionally, as search engine algorithms change occasionally, you'll need to stay on top of your SEO regularly to make sure your ranking doesn't slide down or disappear.
Pros and Cons of PPC
- Can Provide Fast Results: The turnaround time for setting up an ad and having it published online is short, which means you can start generating leads quickly.
- More Easily Try Out New Strategies or Abandon Those that Don't Work: Is a keyword not giving you the conversion rate you were looking for? Want to try a new image? If you're looking for instant gratification, PPC can better fill that need than traditional SEO.
- Offers Greater Control: A PPC ad can be fine-tuned for a specific audience, schedule, location, destination or more. You also can stick to a budget by running an ad for a set period of time.
- Large Financial Investment: PPC gives immediate results, but it comes with a price, and you definitely have to budget for it.
- Ads Disappear When the Money Stops Flowing: It's the unfortunate flip-side of instant gratification.
- Users Tend to Ignore Paid Advertising: It may be a sign of the times, but habitual exposure to paid advertising has inured many internet users from even glancing at such ads.
Where Do You Go from Here?
When it comes to moving your business forward, the biggest job is laying the track. While SEO and PPC marketing options have both their advantages and disadvantages, the good news is you don't have to necessarily choose between the two.
SEO is a traditional marketing tool which, when done right and with patience, can well benefit your business in the long term. PPC, on the other hand, can help you take quick advantage of short-term marketing opportunities that you can tweak at a moment's notice.
Of course, any business decision needs to take into account your best return on investment, and in many ways both SEO and PPC can add something to your bottom line. I'd recommend not putting all your eggs in one basket, but since we've got this great train metaphor going, perhaps it's best to advise you against loading all your marketing dollars on one train car. Either way, the decision is yours.
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