For your small business marketing you need to understand the tools and pick the right one for the right job at the right time. You cannot effectively compete without at least considering all the marketing channels and that certainly includes both SEO and PPC.
The issue is not “Either Or.” It is about the balance, frequency, and audience.
If you have a web site you need to consider playing on both sides of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). As people debate the issue of SEO and PPC I hear some very interesting statements and my absolute favorite is “I never click on the ads.” The reason it is my favorite is it is so blatantly absurd.
If people did not click on the ads why did Google post $21.128 billion in PPC revenue in 2008? Clearly people click on the ads, and they also click on the organic. We have studied the mix of PPC and SEO several times and the bottom line is every link on a SERP has the potential to get a click. In both Paid and organic, showing up is half the battle.
Just to put my prejudices on the table I am an Adwords Expert but I also earned a living for a decade doing SEO so I have played on both sides of this playground. People are sometimes confused by our business and they call me and just want to optimize their site because they think that SEO is fast, cheap, and easy. The problem is that SEO is none of these things.
We have studied this many times and while PPC and SEO have different cost dynamics neither of them is even close to free. A good SEO strategy requires a steady stream of unique content and that costs plenty to generate.
In all the dozens of cases we have documented, SEO and PPC tend to be about the same cost. What people always forget is the cost to generate, manage, and promote this stream of content. If your business has a source of free professionally skilled labor to write this content then SEO is free, otherwise you just need better cost accounting.
One weakness of SEO is that most web sites will only rank highly for a very small list of keywords. You may think that your business is the center of the universe; however it is unlikely that Google will share that opinion. You might want to rank highly for 50 keywords but the reality is that in most cases that is not going to happen.
Since most sites get 1-3 core words with good ranking make sure you know what you want. If your list is 50 long make sure you put it into priority order because it is unlikely Google is going to give you everything you want.
When working on optimizing content the advice I give all the time is to write a great article about a unique topic because Google has a whole team of people and thousands of machines trying to find that and serve it up to deserving searchers. Write great copy, do not hide it from them, and Google will be your friend.
PPC has its strengths and weaknesses and everyone knows the big weakness – it costs money! Once you get past the cost, PPC normally out performs organic. The bottom line with PPC is that you can get traffic that you have no prayer of ranking for organically. PPC can also help improve your organic traffic. While there is no direct connection, PPC will tell you things about the volume of traffic that you will never know in a SEO only approach.
A web traffic strategy without a PPC and SEO component is likely to have the same problem as the football team with no defensive team – make sure you’ve got defense.
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