PPC, SEO

Search Engine Optimization vs. Pay-Per-Click

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.