SEO or PPC?

By Matt Brown, matt@onevision.co.uk

We are often asked, “What is the best way to market my business in the search engines?” and occasionally, “Surely SEO is better, as it’s free!”. Well nothing is free. Both natural and paid listings in the search engines take time, experience and money to implement.

Search engine marketing is unique in that it offers you the opportunity to put your message in front of a potential customer at exactly the time they are seeking your product or service.

Search engine marketing is split into two broad categories:

Natural search listings

  • Search position is influenced by the quality and relevance of the website page content, but position cannot be guaranteed.
  • Ranking can take several days or weeks, particularly for new sites.
  • Clicks on the listing are not chargeable.

Paid search listings (AdWords)

  • Search position can be controlled.
  • Adverts can be set to display immediately and can be switched on and off for set times or days.
  • We can target where and when adverts are shown.
  • The advert can be personalised to the search made.
  • The displayed advert message can be modified quickly and frequently.
  • Clicks on the advert are chargeable but the advertiser is in control of budget spend.

The best methods to increase natural search ranking are well-constructed pages, regular content that stays on topic, and reciprocal linking with other quality sites. But quality over-rules quantity every time! Google provides an explanation of how they rank websites here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34432

People sometimes query that if they are achieving a high natural ranking, why should they bother to also have a paid search listing? But they are not allowing for the pros and cons of each listing type, or considering that if they are not displaying a paid search advert, then a competitor will be.

A well-constructed and managed PPC campaign is a very powerful way to reach your potential customers, as you can quickly test and modify adverts, messages and landing pages to develop highly effective converting campaigns.

Choose your search engine marketer very carefully as you need to be working with people who have broader business and marketing experience in addition to the technical knowledge of keyword research and how to post an advert.

It is also vital to be clear on your goals for your search marketing. Both natural and paid search listings require time and money, and for the campaigns to be sustainable for your business, the investment must deliver a clear return. As always with any marketing tool, it is essential to test and measure to see what works for your business. Only then can you know where to put the effort, but look deeper than clicks and page views. Work out your expected lifetime customer value and how you can attribute this back to the different elements of your marketing.

If you’d like to discuss any of these points in more detail with me, please get in touch or post ideas and comments on Google+.

Jargon Buster!

  • SEO - Search Engine Optimisation. The process to improve the position of a website in the natural search engine results listings.
  • PPC - Pay-Per-Click, also known as Cost-Per-Click (CPC). These are adverts that are displayed on search engine results pages and the advertiser pays a charge for each time that the advert is clicked on.

The Author

Matt Brown is a co-founder and Director of One Vision Ltd, a certified Google Partner. Matt has been managing Google AdWords campaigns since 2001 and provides online advertising management, consultancy and training.

For tips and advice see www.onevision.co.uk and @1visionltd


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