Since the very first search engine sites went live, marketers have attempted to search engine optimise (SEO) their pages so as to appear at the top of the results list. The logic is simple: the most relevant pages are expected to be at the top, so people often won’t get past page one.
Search algorithms became more and more complex making the marketer’s job similarly more complex. But then came along a simple, paid option – Pay-Per-Click (PPC).
Pay-Per-Click allows your result to be featured at either the top or side of search results – you simply pick your keywords and your bid amount. Then, only when someone clicks on your ad, you are charged.
But is PPC really more simple and effective than SEO?
The Pros and Cons of SEO
Being found in one of the top few pages of a search engine’s results is a fantastic achievement for any business. To the customer the results seem a natural by-product of hosting a good website and running a good service, and it is this organic search result that encourages the highest amount of quality click-throughs.
However, search engine business leaders, such as Google and Yahoo, must continually improve their search engine algorithms in order to consistently deliver the best, most relevant results. In recent years this has lead to a huge competition between the major players, each involving vested interests, such as Google+ for Google and Facebook for Bing, in their search algorithms. This means marketers must work hard to stay ahead of these developments to keep their ranking – quite a difficult task.
The most recent development announced by Google is the inclusion of website responsiveness in their search algorithm. Responsive websites are those that are optimised for various devices. With the rise of smart phones and tablet devices Google wants to ensure that pages are reader-friendly on any and all devices. Therefore, preference will soon be given to those websites that automatically resize and change layout to suit mobile devices. For more information on responsive websites subscribe via Facebook or Twitter for forthcoming articles.
The Pros and Cons of PPC
The key benefit of PPC is its simplicity. You can easily target keywords and specific demographics and you have direct and easy control over your budget so you know exactly how much you will spend each month. Additionally, it provides clear campaign performance statistics allowing you to easily measure your ROI as well as run simply A/B testing for your ads.
Another benefit, especially of Google AdWords, is the network on which they are displayed. Given Google’s acquisition of popular video site YouTube, their host of additional services such as Gmail and their extensive networking programme, an advert purchased through AdWords will have a reach far beyond simply the search engine site.
The problem with PPC advertising is that they can often prove expensive for the quality of the leads you receive. Customers have become accustomed to the adverts being displayed and are often wary and sceptical of the usefulness of the site being advertised.
In reality, for most marketers it will not be a choice between SEO or PPC but rather a calculated decision of which to focus resource on. Some SEO techniques are cheap and simple to implement, for example tags and Google+ synchronisation. However, to reach page one of search results you will most likely have to pay for a SEO expert to implement far deeper and wider-reaching solutions.
PPC is a straightforward option and will be more effective for some companies than others. You can easily test its effectiveness for your business and scale up or down as necessary – and all without the need for an expert. However, to really make the most of PPC a big budget and an experienced copywriter are essential components.
If you are thinking about investing in either SEO or PPC it is probably worth testing both out before you jump in with both feet. Then, when you know what is the most effective for your business give us a call on 0207 226 0099 for some no-commitment advice on how to get started or use our contact page to drop us a message.