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27719728_sWhen it comes to ranking high on search engine result pages (SERPs), there are two search engine marketing (SEM) approaches for it: Pay-per-Click (also called cost per click) advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Let’s talk about each of them in detail.

Pay-per-Click

Pay-per-click (PPC):  “[On the Internet] a business model whereby a company that has placed an advertisement on a website pays a sum of money to the host website when a user clicks on the advertisement.” 

PPC is a commonly used method for boosting Internet traffic. Sponsored links have the form of text ads and appear above or on the side of organic search results. Google shows PPC ads with bright Yellow “Ads” label.

Pros:

  • • Instant Visibility – PPC provides instant first-page visibility on search engines for the terms you may not be ranking high on organically.
  • • No worrying about algorithm updates – Unlike unpaid (organic) search, PPC is protected from any search engine algorithm changes.
  • • ROI can be measured pretty quicklyIt is fairly simple to track the effectiveness of the keywords being used. You can easily monitor the number of clicks you are receiving and track number of those resulting in sales.
  • • Not required to format websiteUnlike organic search where you are required to add keywords to the content of your website so that search spiders can locate your site, PPC ads do not require you to format your website in any specific way.

Cons:

  • • Getting right keywords is difficultYou need to target the right keywords to attract potential customers to your website. Finding high-quality, low-cost pay-per-click keywords are difficult.
  • • PPC is Expensive – Today as there are many PPC advertisers online, there is high competition for general keywords which in turn increases the cost per click (CPC). Moreover, companies must pay advertisers every time someone clicks on the ad, whether or not that click leads to profit for the company.
  • • PPC ads create short-term presence on search enginesFor PPC, the efforts of campaigns are immediate, but they are also quickly lost once you stop paying for ads resulting in a decline in website views and sales.
  • • Consumers tend to ignore sponsored ads – A recent study revealed that 59% of people ignore search engine ads.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):  “The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”

SEO will increase traffic to your website by ranking it high on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and many more.

Pros:

  • • Long-term impactThe results of effective search engine optimization can be long lasting. Its long-term impact will attract more clicks which will ultimately bring in more conversions and revenue.
  • • SEO is cost-effectiveEven though you spend to hire an expert to optimize your website, it is practically a great investment since the result will cover your cost. SEO gets more traffic to your website for a cheaper price.
  • • SEO gives competitive advantage – SEO may take time, but will leave you way ahead of your competitors. SEO efforts contribute to building brand awareness and increasing trust among customers. This, of course, translates into building a greater audience, more frequent purchases, and an advantage over your competitors.

Cons:

  • • High Competition – There are nearly 1 trillion Web pages, majority of them created with SEO tactics. Every business owner wants the top spot on the first page of search engine results for his website. Some businesses and keywords, therefore, face stiff competition.
  • • Quality SEO takes timeUnlike PPC, you will have to invest significant amount of time and energy before you can expect to experience its benefits.
  • • Susceptible to algorithm updates – Algorithms for search engines keep changing. When search algorithm changes, the formatting of the page and its effectiveness according to the old algorithm are no longer meaningful, and the page could actually fall in search rankings.
  • • SEO is a continuous process – SEO is a continuous trafficking process even after you rank on top in search engines. If you do not continue with SEO your rankings may begin to slip. SERP placement fluctuates.

Still wondering which of these two methods is the best for your business? Here are 4 factors that will help you decide:

  1. • Budget –Competitive industries with a plethora of big brands can be much more difficult to rank high in organically and PPC can get very expensive. If this is the case, utilizing an SEO-based approach where you target longer tail keywords can help reduce competition and increase your chances for organic rankings.
  2. • Time – If you don’t have the time or people to devote to developing an SEO website for your business, go for PPC.
  3. • Goal – If your goal is to gain clicks and views, go for SEO. But if you are looking for rapid and urgent leads, go for PPC.
  4. • Timeframe – If you are aiming for long run, you should go for SEO. A PPC ad stops appearing once you stop paying.

Final Thoughts

Both SEO and PPC have their own advantages and disadvantages. The above factors will help you decide the tactic you should invest in to reap benefits, though it is wise to use both as this would lead to significant lift in the traffic to and awareness of your website. PPC is a short-term plan with temporary results, whereas SEO is long-term plan with permanent results. PPC can bring you faster results so you can run a PPC campaign and test which keywords convert better and then take on SEO to rank for those keywords.

Organic and paid traffic are independent of each other, but using them together can give your efforts peak performance.

June 21, 2014

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