If you are involved in a business, you may have heard of the term Search Engine Marketing (SEM). A form of internet marketing, SEM increases the visibility of a website or webpage in search engine results through optimization and advertising.
SEM is made of two parts: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising. While SEO generates web traffic for “free,” PPC does it at a cost.
Regardless of which type you choose, SEM is a critical component to a successful Internet Marketing campaign.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
So, let’s dive in! Though SEO traffic is “free,” it requires considerable effort and hard work to win traffic organically from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Many companies invest in experts and agencies to do the work for them, but there is no shortcut to a healthy website and high rankings in search results.
For almost every query you can search for, the competition is fierce; thus, having quality website content is key. Without knowledge of site health, algorithm changes, or how search engines work, increasing your website’s visibility in organic search results is next to impossible.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC, on the other hand, takes a different route. PPC involves putting money behind certain keywords, so that your ads display in paid search positions on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The higher position the ad, the more likely a user will click through to your website or landing page. In PPC, you only pay for the clicks an ad receives, not for the number of views or impressions. Reviewing a number of metrics, you can determine the daily budget that works best, where you pay no more than what you want for a certain number of clicks.
If you are in a toss up, you are not alone! Google’s frequent algorithm changes over the past decade have brought a lot of speculation to the world of SEO. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen an article harking the death of SEO, I’d be a fairly wealthy woman.
The main goal of SEO is to show Google, along with other search engines, that your website is trustworthy and within their guidelines for quality. Some SEO agencies do implement below-the-belt “black hat” tactics, but Google penalizes that.
Many businesses still aren’t “sold” on SEO. You can’t quantify success immediately, and results aren’t instant, but remember – when you hire an SEO expert, you also hire the knowledge of the ever-changing SEO Industry.
Seriously, Google has made more updates to its algorithm in the last 2 years than in the last 10. SEO is a long term plan.
Which One to Choose?
If instant results are what you seek, picking PPC over SEO makes sense. With PPC, there are endless options to choose from that can drive traffic and leads to your website. Tactics like text ads, remarketing and display advertising, video ads, and PLA’s (Product Listing Ads) can all help to increase your website’s sales or conversions.
PPC is an affordable way to see results. It gives you the chance to test which keywords convert better, rather than trying to increase ranking through an SEO plan, many experts champion PPC over SEO.
But I have news for you: it doesn’t have to be one or the other!
SEO and PPC are stronger together. Knowing where each of their strengths lie will give you the ultimate results.
Brand Awareness and Exposure
The exposure that you receive from a PPC ad can indicate trustworthiness to consumers. Google’s research blog shows that even if you rank #1 in Organic SERPs, having a PPC ad on that page as well improves traffic by 50%. If you rank #5 or lower in Organic SERPs, PPC exposure can boost your traffic by 96%.
Having a double listing within the SERPs reinforces your brand in front of searchers; it gives your brand the opportunity to take up more “digital shelf space.
For SEO, 2015 is the year of quality content. Creating and sharing content is the best way to promote your site. PPC can then be implemented to extend the reach of that content to users who wouldn’t otherwise see it.
The keywords you would be bidding for would mostly be Long-tail, non-commercial keywords; and those are cheap.
Improving Site Health
Part of the ranking factor in SERPs is a quality score. A quality score includes factors like click through rate (CTR) and the time it takes for a webpage to load. If the page your PPC campaign lands on is slow-loading, your ads cost more.
What’s more, site speed is also a determining factor for SEO. Part of SEO strategy is reducing page load time so your organic rankings don’t suffer.
Landing Page Optimization
A/B analysis between PPC landing pages will help you discover which headlines, layouts, and images work better. Knowing what works will help you optimize those pages for organic search as well.
Google Analytics offers a free website metric tool, which allows you to see what your website users are searching on your site. By having an SEO expert analyze these terms, they can be added to a PPC campaign to drive specific keywords to the page that users are looking for.
By setting up demographic targeting in a PPC campaign, and analyzing CTRs and CPAs, an SEO can then make changes to the website to target new regions.
Hopefully, by now the outstanding benefits of incorporating an integrated paid and organic strategy into your Internet marketing campaign are clear.
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