Regardless of how good your website looks, visitors aren’t going to find it automatically. Instead, you need to employ a series of tactics to link your business with traffic coming from search engine users. Two of the most popular options include SEO and PPC. Both are very different in terms of approach but share the same goal of bringing leads to your website. So, when it comes to SEO vs PPC, which is the best solution for your website? Here’s everything you need to know.
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What Is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. The best way to understand SEO is to get into the mindset of the phrases people are entering into search engines, and how you can include them with your business website.
When writing content whether it be landing pages or blog posts, it needs to be SEO optimised so that search engines can send people to the right place. SEO can be implemented within various aspects of a website but is most commonly used within the written content.
Every business will have a range of keywords that specifically relate to their website as a whole, or even specific pages or services. For example, let’s say you are a self-employed plumber from London. As well as the obvious keyphrases such as ‘plumber London’, you could also pick up traffic from phrases such as ‘how to fix a leaky tap’ on a blog post. The more related keyphrases you use within your content, the more you are telling search engines your result is relevant to their users.
There are many different ways you can identify keywords for your business. From there you can then import the results into a spreadsheet along with their rankings to use within future content. Google Trends is also a great resource for finding trending keywords too.
Optimising Your Content
Whether you are writing a landing page or a blog post, your content needs to be optimised for SEO for others to be able to find it. If you are new to SEO, it’s worth brushing up on H tags, which on the surface appear as headers that break up your content. However, every H tag you use is another opportunity to implement those all-important keywords. As an example, a H1 tag is your main headline and so needs to feature a highly relatable keyphrase. On the subject of tags, be sure to optimise your ‘alt’ tags on images and videos you upload to your website (especially on WordPress) by using relevant phrases.
Another top tip here is to also rename your image files to feature keywords too. The more clues you can give Google, the better!
What Else Affects SEO?
Search engines want to send their users to the best results to remain competitive. Not only do your keywords need to be on point, but so does your website as a whole.
If you can’t remember the last time you added new content to your website then it’s likely outdated. In some cases, your site could be so old it’s not responsive. If so when people view your site on a mobile or tablet, the contents aren’t fitting to the screen property. Given 72.6% of users will access the internet via their smartphones only by 2025, it pays to make sure your site works on all devices.
Speed is an issue for SEO too. If your page is slow to load or has broken pages this can affect your bounce rate, which means people are immediately exiting rather than staying on your website. What this signals to Google is the result isn’t helpful, so your rankings slip as a result. There are many other factors that can affect page load times including using excessive videos and images as well as advertising banners.
While SEO might seem daunting to understand at first, the basics are that it’s all about making your content relevant for what people are searching for.
A huge advantage of SEO is once you make that connection, it can help align your business strategy. If your existing content isn’t SEO optimised, you can easily go through it and ensure it becomes so by adding relevant keywords.
There’s also plenty of tools you can use that will tell you where your pages are ranking. Some even give you a traffic light system too which is extremely helpful for beginners. Best of all, SEO isn’t a one-time gig. If you optimise your content correctly now, it will continue to bring in new leads to your business over time.
Unlike paying for advertising, you can’t just throw money at the situation and fix your SEO right away. Even if you employ tools (or people!) to optimise your content for you, it can take time to do well.
It is about going back to basics, finding all the errors and in some cases rewriting the content so it reads better and of course, featuring a lot more keywords. If your blog has thousands of entries but no SEO, it can get pretty tiring trying to fix everything.
Plus, even if your content is perfectly optimised, traffic won’t just appear overnight. Building organic traffic is greatly helped by SEO but it’s still a process.
What is PPC?
PPC stands for pay per click and works as a form of online advertising for your website. The most common place to find a PPC campaign is on a Google search result.
The reason PPC advertising works is because it buys your way to the top of a search page for a particular query. When searching for a result, most people look to the top few results because they are generally deemed more relevant.
Plus, people don’t want to spend hours scrolling through lots of results. After all, they use search engines because they want a quick answer! Even if your business is brand new or your SEO is poor – it doesn’t matter. If you set up your ads correctly, your business along with a clickable link will appear either at the top or within the first few highlighted results.
Setting Up PPC
PPC ads need to be set up through a dedicated provider such as Google Ads or a social media platform such as Facebook Ads. When creating your PPC campaign you have the option of displaying a text or visual based advert. You will need to write or design the campaign yourself and you’ll be given a limited number of characters to fill out. The goal here is to choose the right ones to maximise conversions. The PPC platform will also give you options for budgets as well as categories for targeting.
When creating a PPC campaign you should have a targeted industry or product in mind. You’ll need to use specific keywords within the copy to reach your intended audience. Ads can also be targeted to a specific location or even time frame. It’s also good to be aware that some industries are prohibited from using PPC as a form of advertising.
As the name suggests, businesses only pay when someone clicks on their sponsored link that has been created specifically through a PPC platform. It works by creating a daily budget which can be stopped or amended at any time. The actual amount you pay for a PPC ad will depend on how competitive your niche or chosen keywords are, as well as your quality score and how you choose to target your audience. So if your niche or if the location you are targeting has a lot of competition, you should expect to pay more versus low competition.
You might be wondering why anyone would bother paying to get to the top of a Google search result when organic results sit right beneath it for free. In an ideal world, your website would rank top organically, but ultimately there is only one top spot and getting there requires a lot of amazing content not to mention backlinks too. PPC can get you there right away, meaning your business is the first thing people will see when they search for that term. The best part? You only pay for actual link clicks.
The flexibility of PPC is also a huge advantage for businesses. That’s because you can target specific search terms such as ‘dentist in Manchester’. Not only that, but you can also set the location of the ad to only go out in Manchester (or your relevant location) meaning those who click on the link are more likely to convert, versus targeting anyone in any location. Doing so will make even better use of your budget.
There’s also a huge element of control with PPC which not all marketing strategies can offer you. At any point, you can halt the ad or change any of the details to improve its success rate. Instead of marketing your services as a whole, you can hone in on a specific area of the business, for example, a new product launch that you are trying to push.
PPC isn’t easy to grasp if you are completely new to it. That can soon become an issue if you are blindly spending on ads that aren’t generating revenue for your business. Everything from the keywords you use to the quality score of the ad make a difference. Not to mention how much you are willing to bid! On that note, your total spend isn’t indicative of how successful the ad will be either. Many people end up outsourcing their PPC campaigns to an expert instead, which is also an added expense.
As PPC is a bidding system, a competitor brand could easily come along and outbid you and go to the top of the results page instead. If you have an extremely limited budget yet are bidding on highly competitive keywords, you may struggle to get any traction at all. Plus, once your campaign is over… it’s over! Compared with SEO, PPC has a limited shelf life.
Finally, any PPC campaign you create will display the word ‘Ad’ next to it. While this won’t necessarily harm your campaign, it will tell users that you paid to be there rather than doing so organically. Some users may skip over paid content as a result. That being said, the top 3 results get 46% of the clicks on a page. What’s more 98% of users choose a result that lands on the first page of the results. But there are never any guarantees!
Can You Use Both SEO & PPC?
Absolutely! It’s a good idea to look at both your SEO and PPC strategy. On a basic level, your SEO is how your content is optimised to pick up search engine traffic. It shouldn’t be ignored, because you can’t just rely on paid advertising alone. But as we know, SEO can be slow to effective and if you need leads right away, then paid advertising through PPC is the way to go.
Given SEO is free (bar any special software or people you’d prefer to hire to do it for you), it’s also a budget-friendly option compared with PPC. Using both at the same time will target both ends of the spectrum which if done correctly can be extremely effective at bringing in leads to your business.
To Sum Up
In the battle of SEO vs PPC, it’s clear that each is a useful marketing tool with distinct differences. When it comes to the best solution for your website, the main consideration is whether you want to build organic content over a long period with SEO, or whether you need quick results to market your business as a whole or particular strand with PPC.