PPC, SEO

Two sides of the same coin intending to help you with one goal: bring traffic to your website and ultimately help grow your business.  On one hand, you have search engine optimization (SEO).  On the other, you have pay-per-click (PPC).  More often than not, they both focus around Google.  Similarly, they both are going to require you to have a healthy budget if you plan on succeeding where so many others fail.

We sat down with Michael Mallery of Mallery Online Marketing for a brief discussion on the topic of SEO vs PPC.

SEO

Strang (S): In your words, what is SEO?

Michael (M): SEO, simply put, is a service or technique used to help propel your website or web property to the top of the search engines’ organic search results for specific words and phrases that are important to your business.  Typically, the search engine of choice is Google because it holds such a large percentage of search traffic.  If you can get your site to the number 1 position for strategic keywords, your business can really take off.

S: What are the benefits of SEO?

M: Free traffic.  Technically, it’s not free because you’re usually paying someone or a company to get your site to that position, but once it’s there and it stays there, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you get, you likely aren’t paying more for it.  As your site grows and you can start to target other keywords either through expanding your offers or even just running a blog on your site, you could potentially see more and more traffic.  More traffic could mean more business – depending on your site design, your ability to sell once someone calls or emails, etc..

S: What are some of the negatives of SEO?

M: There is no guarantee.  Google’s algorithm changes all the time (Note: Don’t believe Michael? Check out just the major updates Google at Moz – https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change).  What gets your site ranked today may not be the same tomorrow.  You could go to bed with your site hitting number 1 for 1,000 keywords and wake up the next morning with your site on page 5, 6, or 7 – or worse yet, your site could be deindexed, completely removed from Google altogether.

Of course, with the right SEO company, your rankings should both hold and not run a risk of ever getting penalized or deindexed.  Similarly, a good SEO company will give you a time frame of when you might expect your site to hit page 1.  But again, that’s not entirely up to them.

There’s also the waiting game.  Your site won’t be number 1 over night.  It could take months or years to get there.  You have to be able to pay an agency to get you there.  You have to have faith that they know what they are doing and will get your site where it needs to be.

PPC

S: Moving on to PPC.  What is it exactly?

M: PPC is your chance to tell the advertising platform, be it Google, Bing, Facebook, or any other site that has the traffic volume and audience you want toy find yourself in front of – it’s your chance to tell them what you’re willing to pay to get 1 click or 1 visitor to your site.  Most of the time, the platform will tell you what it’ll cost, but you can set the budget, set how you want to spend your budget, and walk away.  You could be on top of Google within minutes.  You could find yourself in front of thousands of potential customers on Facebook instantly.  It’s your chance to pay to win.

S: Same as SEO, what are the benefits of PPC?

M: Instant payoff.  Possibly.  If a campaign is configured and optimized properly, you might find your business start to pick up.  With Google, this is a prime opportunity to have your business plastered at the top of search results almost instantly.  The trade-off, however, is that you’re going to pay a premium for that.  In some cases, that’s not an issue.  If your not in a competitive niche, you might pay next to nothing just to get a visitor to your site.

S: And the negatives?

M: If you (or the agency you hire) has no idea what is going on, you’ll notice that your ad spend will start to rise and you’ll see little to no return on your investment.  The processes, be it Google or Facebook, can be complex.  It’s not as easy to set up as jumping on to your dashboard and saying, “Send me leads!”  There’s planning, budgeting, and optimization involved.  It can be a full-time job just making sure that your campaigns are running well and not just emptying your coffers.

S: There are clearly positives and negatives to both options.  Which is your preferred method of marketing and why?

M: You are correct.  Both options have theirs ups and downs, but there is no clear-cut winner between the two.  They can both vary wildly between costs, time frames, and results.

My recommendation is to sit down and plan out a strategy with a reputable internet marketing agency.  If you’re looking to expand your business immediately but want the grand pay-offs of having your site show up on page 1 of the organic search results, you’ll want to front-load your marketing budget towards PPC.  At the same time, though, you’ll want to make sure you are on your SEO game so that you can eventually remove yourself from needing PPC.

Ultimately, though, regardless of your marketing campaign decisions, you need to make sure your in a position to sell your products or services.  This means having an inviting and intuitive website.  Your site needs to be responsive and fast.  You need to get involved with video and quality sales copy.  Barring that, if your potential customers are picking up the phone and calling you, you need to make sure you’re answering the phones and turning these potential customers into life-long customers.

SEO

5 SEO Tips to Improve the Rankings on Your Blog

Blogging is a great way to share your knowledge and it’s a great way to drive traffic to your website.  First you need to rank highly in the search results in order to get traffic to your blog.  You may already be aware of the basics like building backlinks or sharing across social media but that isn’t the end.  There are lots of factors that go into improving your rankings and some that you may overlook.  Here are 5 SEO tips to improve the rankings on your blog.

A Great Headline

How exactly does a great headline help improve your rankings?  It helps in a couple of ways, first your headline should include the keywords that you are trying to rank for and it lets Google and your readers know what your post is about.  A good headline can do a lot for your click through rate, even if you’re at the bottom of page 2 the more clicks you get on your article the higher Google values it.  A good eye catching headline can do a great deal to boost your rankings.

Do-follow Links

There are do-follow and no-follow backlinks, ideally you want more do-follow links going to your blog.  A link is like a vote from another site saying that your site has good information.  However not all backlinks are created equal and you want to make sure that you are getting high quality relevant links from trusted sites.  Look for opportunities to guest post on other good quality blogs or social shares.  Do not ever buy links, your site can end up getting penalized and that is hard to recover from.

Use Images and Alt Tags

Images make your blog easier to read and more appealing, each image should have an alt tag.  The alt tag tells Google what your image represents and it serves as a keyword.  Many bloggers are very good about including images in their posts but overlook the alt tag.

Link to Trusted Authority Sites

It is important to outbound links as well as inbound.  It shows Google that you are involved in the community and providing your readers with quality information from other credible sources.

Longer Content is Better

The more relevant content on a topic you can provide the better, and Google loves long content.  That being said don’t make your posts wordy and repetitive, you still need to create a quality post that readers enjoy.  Your post doesn’t need to be the length of a novel, but 500 words should be your bare minimum.

These are important factors that many bloggers overlook, pay attention to them and watch your rankings climb.

Social Media

Don’t Overlook How Important Social Media is to Your Business

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram used to places where people went to be entertained and businesses didn’t pay much attention to them.  Today it’s a whole different ballgame and if you’re a business owner you need to understand the role social media plays in your business growth.  Whether you advertise on these platforms or just engage with customers.  Don’t overlook how important social media is to your business, now let’s look at how to make it work for you.

Brand Awareness

Social media allows you to introduce your business to new people.  Facebook alone has 2 billion users, all of them ready to see different products.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a local business or a global ecommerce brand you can get your brand in front of potential customers.  You can detail all of the features and benefits of your product, create compelling content and drive traffic to your website.

Audience Insights

Social media platforms provide some incredible insight into who sees your posts and pages.  It can show you what’s trending so you can tap into it and increase your audience.  If you are advertising the targeting you can do is incredible.

Customer Service

You can interact with your customers immediately, many customers are willing to comment on your page while they won’t call your customer service line.  This allows you to solve any issues right away and improve your relationships with your customers.  Brands that are active on social media have a much higher customer approval rating than those that don’t.

Competitor Research

Social media also allows you to check the posts and pages of your competitors to see what kind of engagement that they are getting.  Are there customers happy?  What are they doing that you’re not?  This will allow you to build a strategy to beat out your competition.

The advantages that social media can provide your business are incalculable but it is more than just throwing the occasional post on your Facebook page.  You need to know how to make it work for you.  Which platform works best for the type of business that you are in, if you cater to millennials then you want to be on Instagram or Snapchat.  Do you work in the B2B space, then LinkedIn can be a gold mine.  Next you need to figure out how to engage your audience so that they become customers rather than just fans or followers.  Working with a credible social media agency can help turn your social profiles into profit generating machines.

PPC

Do This Before You Launch Your Next PPC Campaign

One of the most effective ways to market your business online is through a PPC (pay per click) campaign.  You can get your business in front of the people who are already searching for your product or service.  If done correctly PPC campaigns can dramatically change your volume of business, but if you don’t know what you are doing you can bleed money.  So you need to do this before you launch your next PPC campaign if you want it to be successful.

Plan Ahead

For the sake of demonstration, let’s assume that you own a local business and are looking to bring more customers through the door.  You will start your campaign with extensive keyword research and use keywords that convey buyer intent and have the best chance of converting those that click on your ad into actual customers.  But that isn’t all here are some other things you need to make your campaign successful.

  • Use Geographical modifiers: Your PPC campaigns, especially if you’re using the Google Ads platform allow you modify your ads according to geography making your results more relevant, it saves you money and gives you a better chance of conversion.
  • Use Negative Keywords: Honing in on buyer intent keywords is a good start but you still want to do as much as possible to filter your ads so they get in front of the right people.  Negative keywords can help you do that.  Here is a tutorial on how to use negative keywords.

Track Everything

Creating a PPC campaign is useless without tracking your results.  You need to know which keywords are proving profitable, the click through rates, and what is working.  A good PPC campaign is one that is constantly getting tweaked so you can maximize your results.  Ideally you want to find that sweet spot between lowest cost of keywords and highest conversions.

Effective Landing Pages

Having the best managed PPC campaign in the world won’t help you if your landing page is terrible.  Once a potential customer clicks on your ad they need to land on a page that is built to convert.  It needs to be visually appealing, have well written content along with a strong call to action.

Implement these steps to maximize the return of your PPC campaigns and be prepared to tweak as necessary.  A well put together PPC campaign can drive sales unlike any other medium in digital marketing, but it needs to be done right.

SEO

Finding the Right Keywords

Finding the right keywords can make a difference in the amount of traffic and ultimately customers you get from the search engines.  Think about your own actions when you are looking to find a local service, you probably check Google first, most people do.  There are dozens of businesses that are competing for a couple of spots on the front page so you need to get your SEO on point if you want to be in those few spots.  When it comes to SEO you need to find relevant keywords that connect your buyers to your business.  Here are some techniques to help you do that.

Define Your Business

Keyword research can be one of the more tedious parts of SEO but it is necessary to your success.  You need to track who visits your website and why, where does your existing traffic come from and what terms did they search to get there.  If you haven’t already then you need to install Google Analytics on your site.  It will show what keywords are effective in driving traffic and where it is going.  It can show you where your customers are coming from.  You can use it to fine tune your SEO campaigns to help you attract relevant visitors.  Here is a quick tutorial on how to use analytics.

Check Out Your Competition

If you want to beat your competition you need to know what they are doing.  Do your own tests, type in the keywords you want to rank for and see who is showing up.  Take a look at their sites and see how they have them optimized.  There are tools you can use where you plug in the URL of your competitor and it will show you what they are ranking for.   The more information you have the better off you will be, and this type of research can show you keywords that you haven’t been targeting.

Longtail Keywords are Your Best Bet

General keywords like “attorney” are nearly impossible to rank for and you don’t want to bother anyway, they are far too vague.  Using longtail keywords allows you to find keywords that are very specific to what you sell.  Yes, they do provide less traffic but it is traffic that is far more likely to make a purchase from you.  It allows you to target people looking for exactly what you specialize in.

Research First

Keyword research should be the very first thing you do in any SEO campaign, regardless of the type of business that you are in.  A solid keyword strategy will help you rank higher in local search results.  If you are unsure about how to go about improving your rankings then working with digital marketing firm can definitely help.