In running an online business, good organic rankings that generate “free” traffic that convert into large volumes of sales or customer inquiries are highly desirable and the aim of many.
However, very few sites achieve this goal with an SEO strategy alone, for a number of reasons, including:
- Building content is very time consuming
- There is no control over results
- The process can take months and years
- The words targeted to rank for may not be the ones that convert into sales/customers
- The costs of production and timelines can be deceptively expensive
A PPC strategy has an obvious direct cost as customers click on the ads which can quickly run up costs – but these can be managed carefully into a predictable cost of sales as well. Some of the reasons to run PPC campaigns are:
- Rapid testing to determine what drives desired results
- Can be manged to a ROI (return on investment)
The question is often raised, which strategy should I do, or invest in? In very rare cases it may make sense to try only one, but generally an integrated approach delivers a much better return in the long run and the short run.
For example, in some cases driving ppc campaigns to generic lead capture forms can work, but this is not usually the most effective strategy as there is no benefit to the SEO listings and many people will find information on the company or service and come back later when further along the decision making process.
In PPC, quality score of ads are very important, which includes sending traffic to relevant landing pages. If there are keywords that convert well but do not have optimal landing pages, creating these pages and content will help lower the cost of the PPC and increase the conversion rates. By implementing these changes on the main website, the content for SEO will increase and therefore rankings should improve.
Both PPC and SEO traffic will engage users with the site, and these users will interact in different ways – some will share the site with friends via email or social channels. Others may be journalists or bloggers that write about the site or services. All of this activity increases engagement and links to the site, which in turn should increase the presence and rankings in the search engines.
In working on SEO, one aspect is also making sure the site works correctly technically with all links working and has good flow for the user journey – this will also enable visitors that arrive via PPC to use the site better.
Additionally as search engines such as Google continue to give preference to paid ad space, companies that rely on only SEO will lose their customers to competitors that have top rankings via PPC.
Therefore rather than thinking about one or the other strategy, an integrated approach to SEM (search engine marketing) is in almost all cases better for the business to grow an effective online sales acquisition channel with the best allocation of resources.