PPC 101

PPC 101: Intro to PPC versus SEO

When it comes to the world of search marketing, PPC (Pay per Click) marketing and Organic Optimization, or SEO (Search Engine Optimization),are the two prevalent traffic generation methods. They really are more like two sides on the same coin, as PPC and SEO share the same objective of driving search engine traffic to your website. Both methods, however, require very different strategies to obtain advertising success.

The PPC advertising model provides businesses with the opportunity to quickly generate traffic for their websites. PPC as a medium offers many positives features including:

Usability – PPC is very easy to get started. Creating a campaign requires minimal “tech” knowledge.

Effectiveness – Usage quickly increases the visibility of your business online. PPC can expose your online business to more potential clients in a shorter amount of time than with traditional SEO.

Scalability – Your advertisements can be tweaked to allow you to reach targeted demographics ranging from location to age group. These tweaks, in turn, lead to higher quality leads

Speed – Potential sales/leads can arrive within minutes of your offers being approved

Transparency -Unlike many of the traditional advertising mediums (i.e. Print, Radio, & Television), PPC provides analytical data to help users gauge their return on investment (ROI).

That isn’t to say that there aren’t negative aspects related to paid search usage. Some of the drawbacks to managing a PPC campaign include:

Cost – Popular keywords in your niche can be expensive to bid on and can obliterate your advertising budget.

Time Requirement – As stated previously, getting ads up and running requires very little technical “know-how”. Successfully optimizing a paid campaign can, on the other hand, can be very time consuming endeavor. Marketers need to analyze everything from keyword performance to traffic sources in order to ensure that their campaigns receive the best possible exposure.

Lack of portability – Strategies that may work on Google may not necessarily translate to Bing, Admarketplace, 7search, etc. Best practices are often search network specific so be prepared to learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can.

Risk – Advertisers can lose a lot of money if they do not monitor the performance of their campaigns. Factors ranging from ineffective bidding and poorly written ad copy, to traffic volume fluctuations, to poor traffic partners, can all impact your ROI.

Click Fraud – Click Fraud is a very real issue that affects campaign performance – especially with high volume search terms. It is important to your bottom line that your PPC provider offer features which help you identify and removes poor performing sources before they destroy your offers. Use of independent analytics software is a must.

Search Engine Optimization, on the other hand, requires the use of website optimization techniques to increase the likelihood of your website from the organic (think FREE) listings shown in the search results. And really, what’s better than free?? If properly maintained and optimized, SEO can be low-to-no cost way to derive leads and sales from your top keywords.

The main drawback to basing your web business solely on SEO is that your advertising can be destroyed (as shown recently by Google’s Panda Update) due to algorithmic changes by the larger engines. SEO can be a long process and can take months to show results. Even then, there are no guarantees as to how high your ads may appear, and there is always the risk that you may need to pay a professional in order to make the most of it. SEO requires quite a learning curve and novice marketers will have their hands full.

An ideal long term strategy using both PPC and SEO in conjunction may work best for most businesses. PPC can be used to drive quick, targeted traffic while increasing your web presence. This instantaneous stream of traffic allows users to determine which keywords perform best in short order. This information can be used, in turn, to craft an SEO campaign targeting keywords which convert into sales to increase the advertiser’s organic presence in those results. Free traffic = more profit towards your bottom line.

Want to learn more about search marketing?? Check out Web360: The Fundamentals of Web Success published by our friends over at Websitemagazine!