Search Engine Marketing (also known as SEM) consists of two main areas, PPC (Pay per Click Advertising) and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). If you are new to these terms, they can appear to be extremely daunting prospects.
Here we help to explain what they are, discuss the differences between the two of them, why they are important for increasing sales and revenue, and which one will work best for your business.
What is PPC?
PPC stands for Pay Per Click. This marketing technique allows you to show a customised advert to people who are searching for your products or services. The beauty of PPC is that you are only charged when someone clicks on your advert, hence the name, Pay Per Click.
Pay Per Click advertising is most effective on Google or Bing and the reason it’s so effective is that you get to choose the search terms your adverts are shown for. The ads are highly prominent as they appear at the top of search result pages and in most instances will be the first listings that potential clients or customers see.
The exact position your ad will appear in depends heavily on how much you are willing to spend, your resources and skill set in the area. If there is a lot of competition for certain “keywords” (which are phrases that your potential clients or customers are typing into the search engine), then it will cost you more per click to feature at the top of the page. You can identify which results on a page are PPC as they feature the word “Ad”.
What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the marketing technique used to try and influence the “organic” or “natural” search engine results, which you do not pay to appear in.
By optimising your website content and digital presence by focusing on certain keywords, you can end up getting your website on to the first page of the search engine results without the need to pay every time someone clicks on the link.
Organic results appear below the PPC ads. If you create your website with the keywords that people are searching for in terms of meta data (the code that sits behind each page and tells Google what your website is about, the text on those pages, the layout of the site and more), then you can create something that Google and other search engines will love and will be more likely to appear higher up in the results.
Having a site that is easy to navigate, answers your customers' questions and has a good overall customer experience are factors that Google likes and in turn will reward you with a higher position. But it is isn’t just enough to do this once and forget about it – Google likes to see a website that is constantly being updated and an active social media presence, so SEO is an ongoing process.
What are the differences?
Cost - The main draw to SEO is that it free - but only to a degree. Initially you will have to pay for the website and the content on it to be optimized if you want it to be done properly and in line with keyword research. You may also have to pay for someone to write ongoing content (such as a blog) or to write your social media for you, but you can do that yourself.
However, you will not have to pay each time a customer clicks, unlike PPC where you must pay for each individual click regardless of whether the customer ends up converting. Having said this, it takes investment in both time and money in order to get your SEO to a great level. The cost you end up paying for an ad depends on what keyword you are bidding for and how many people are bidding on the same keyword, among others, as PPC is effectively an online auction. Although you have to pay each time a customer clicks through, you do not have to pay every time your advert is viewed. Although SEO does not have a direct cost like PPC, you have to consider the cost of both time and money spent on your ongoing efforts to build you SEO as it is a time-consuming task.
Position in Search Results
PPC ads feature above organic results and also feature at the bottom of the search results page. The position of your advert depends on many factors. Organic results fill the middle of search engine result pages (SERPs) and the exact position, again depends on many factors.
The more relevant search engines think you are, the higher up the page it will place you. Many people think that if they are positioned high up in the natural results then they don’t need to feature in PPC, but often that isn’t the case. Many people will only click the first two or three results they see, which are often PPC. To catch as many visitors as possible, you generally need to appear in both.
PPC is a much quicker option and you can see results in a much shorter time period. If PPC adverts are set up effectively you can start seeing results straight away. SEO is a time-consuming task in comparison, and it can take months for the benefits to start to be felt. However, if it is carried out regularly and efficiently, you will see the benefits that can last a long time.
PPC ads are more visible across all of Google including their partners such as YouTube. This means your ad can appear in more places than your organic result which can lead to more visits to your site.
A benefit of PPC is that you are in complete control of what your ad says and how it will appear (even if you cannot completely control where). This means you can create tailored ads that are targeting specific groups of people. The more informative your ad is, the more likely a customer will click.
Amount of Traffic
Studies have suggested that PPC ads get more clicks, however this will therefore result in higher cost. SEO results will get high amounts of traffic but only if you feature high up in the results, which again can take a lot of time to achieve this, if at all.
In conclusion the best approach for many businesses is a combination of both PPC and SEO. Depending on the budget you have available and the type of business you own, you should start with PPC as the results can be seen faster, but team this up with an SEO strategy as soon as possible, as the sooner you start, the sooner you will start to see the benefits. This is a longer-term strategy and will require a lot of initial effort, however if you continue to carry out SEO you will hopefully appear on the first page of results which will be cheaper for your business in the long run. They also work hand in hand as if you start off with PPC ads you can use the keyword data you have created in your research to aid your SEO strategy at the same time.
Both PPC and SEO take time to completely master and will involve a lot of resources, however when they are done well, both methods make a huge impact on the visibility and success of your website and business.
If you need help with your PPC or SEO strategies, then the DBS team are happy to help. Contact us on 01522 811688 or visit www.dbsinternetmarketing.co.uk for more information.