What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym meaning Search Engine Optimisation. This is about optimising your website for visibility and click-through performance in search engine.
SEO involves a number of different approaches to give your site more authority in the eyes of search engines and also to make it more visible for specific search queries.
Benefits of SEO
Clicks through to your website from search engines are free of charge if your website is shown in the organic (natural) results displayed by search engines in response to search queries, so SEO work can be a valuable way to get you free advertising and leads through search engines.
Because the greater part of SEO work is about improving the quality of the content on your site, thinking in terms of SEO can also give valuable pointers to improving the experience of visiting your site for all web users, including customers who already know you.
The benefits of SEO are cumulative. Once you’ve improved your website’s authority and content and made search engines aware of the fact, you should find that you have moved to a permanently higher plateau in terms of visibility.
Limitations of SEO
Domain authority and incoming links take a long time to build up naturally, so for a new website or one operating in a highly competitive field, it may take years to get decent search engine positioning for phrases describing your key products and services, and even then there’s no certainty of a Top 10 or even Top 20 placement nationally in your country.
Google’s algorithms determining search engine positioning are subject to unpredictable changes, and what works at one time may stop working when its programmers decide that another aspect of user experience carries more weight or changes the basis on which domains themselves are given authority. You may also find your site penalised if Google’s algorithms detect an artificial pattern of keywords or links that appear to be the product of SEO work designed to ‘game’ them.
You have less control - you cannot turn traffic on and off. Competitors may successfully use strategies that go against Google's own guidelines, and you may find that your site is not treated fairly.
What is PPC?
PPC is an acronym standing for Pay Per Click. This refers to paid advertising for your website in search engine results pages, that causes it to appear either at the top or at the bottom of the first page of results for a given query.
Separate PPC campaigns can be set up for each major search engine, including Google and Bing, and targeting the keywords of your choice, so that your advertisements are only placed when there’s a good match to what you sell. The cost of clicks is determined by a competitive auction marketplace for spots, into which the search engine’s algorithmic assessment of the ‘quality’ of your landing page and its relevance to the search is further factored.
Benefits of PPC
PPC gives you instant visibility in search engine results even when your site has not built up any domain authority yet or does not have enough to outrank competitors, so it can be well-suited to getting potential customer traffic in to a new website or one that has only been established for a few years and is not yet rated by Google as one of the top ones in its field.
Some e-commerce sites find that visitors from paid adverts are more likely to convert to purchase than those coming from organic results, who may be more often window shoppers or casual information seekers. The fact of clicking a link marked ‘Ad’ can be a fairly strong sign of a solid intention to make a purchase.
The management systems used to run PPC campaigns can be very precisely controlled by the inclusion of specific words and phrases of relevance and the exclusion of all words and phrases that tend to indicate a search intention other than purchase or an intention to purchase something that is not a good match for what you offer.
Limitations of PPC
Every click by an unseen user somewhere on the Internet costs you money, whether or not it leads to a purchase. Costs can add up fast, and need to be kept under control with a daily budget limit you can afford. Even when you have set a daily budget limit, PPC is all cost until you convert to a sale. And then you need to work out the actual cost of a conversion based on the cost of clicks that do not convert or convert only to an enquiry and not to a final sale, the cost of setting up and managing your PPC campaign, and the profit margin on whatever it is you’ve sold.
As soon as you end your PPC campaign, you are back to square one in terms of visibility, so the results in terms of improved traffic are temporary and transient, whereas with SEO they are cumulative and tend to be permanent.
Some people trust PPC listings less than organic search results, as they know they have been paid for.
SEO and PPC are really useful ways of generating traffic to your site, especially if you are able to use both methods as part of your marketing strategy.
If you need a quick boost in sales:
- Put your budget into PPC
- Research SEO, can you do it yourself or do you need to outsource?
- Plan to implement SEO when the time is right
If you want to invest in long-term growth:
- Invest time in exploring and implementing your SEO strategy
- Add in a PPC campaign and test the water with costings
- Wait for the results to come in