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The Mysteries of Online Advertising Explained

PPC or SEO: Which Is Best?

When it comes to advertising online, most small businesses realize they need to have a strong Internet presence. But with all of the different options—and acronyms—out there, it can be hard to determine which tactics will work best for your specific needs. Let us help clear up some of that alphabet soup confusion for you…

PPC = Pay Per Click

Unsurprisingly, this type of Internet advertising involves paid ads. These small ads appear on the top and/or side of the search engine results pages and contain a link to your website. That way, people can see the ad and then visit your site simply by clicking on the ad. Although a variety of factors can affect which place (1 through 10) your ad will occupy on the results page, it boils down to two main issues:

  1. How much are you willing to spend on each click? The more you pay per click, the higher your ad can be placed. If one of your competitors wants to pay more, they’re typically going to rank higher than you do.
  2. How closely does the topic of your website match the topic of the search? If, for example, your site is about plumbing services, but the search was for “wedding rings,” your website is not particularly relevant to the search performed. The more relevant your site is to the search, the lower the price per click…That makes relevancy extremely important for PPC campaigns.

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization involves maximizing the relevance of your site content to the searches being performed. The good news is that you don’t have to pay for your placement like you do with PPC: That means all the traffic is FREE. But there is a catch. There are practically infinite factors controlling which sites are chosen for positions 1 through 10 in the middle of the search results page, and their order is all based on how much Google believes that your site is what the searcher is looking for. Because of this inherent complexity, most small business owners find the game of SEO to be even more overwhelming than PPC. It also takes considerable time and resources to optimize your site properly. In fact, simply optimizing your site often isn’t enough.

Nerd Alert! Here’s the Scoop…

SEO has two main parts:

  1. On-page optimization: This involves optimizing the content of your own site. Let’s not get into the gory details, but the basics include properly constructing the structure of the site, its navigational links, and its text.
  2. Off-page optimization: This involves maximizing how your site interacts with other websites.

Here’s where the nerdy part comes in: Google regards links to your site like votes. If person A links to person B’s website, person A must think that person B’s site is of some value. Creating that link functions like a vote, and according to Google more votes equal more value. That’s the basics, but the reality of the situation is somewhat more complicated. Off-page optimization is all about increasing the number of quality links pointing to your site. The tricky part is that not all links count, and not all links are of the same value. Off-page optimization involves figuring out which links will help boost your website’s results ranking in the best way!

That’s Nice, But Which One Do I Pick?

Choosing between PPC and SEO depends a lot on your goals but also on your budget. Let’s look at it like opening a store in the real world: Do you want to quickly set up a kiosk in the mall to capitalize on holiday shoppers, or do you want a storefront that you can build value in over time? Like the kiosk, PPC is the clear choice if you’re looking for immediate results. You can set it up, turn it on, and get traffic the next day. There are already shoppers in the mall (and on the web), so you just have to rent some space to get to them. The downside is that the kiosks tend to have high rent because they’re prime real estate. The same is true for PPC. The rates are high, and increasing all the time because more and more companies are using PPC and consequently bidding up the prices. Opting to construct a storefront is more like SEO. You can leverage a storefront for years to come—you have control over your own space and your business will become more recognized and trusted as the years go by, just like with SEO. Although there are costs involved with building a store (or website) and getting people to visit it (online traffic), the long-term cost is far less than with PPC. It also becomes harder and harder to knock you out of your spot the longer you’re in business.

What This Means for Your Business

In an ideal world, you would have an unlimited budget for online advertising—and if you did, we would recommend that you do both SEO and PPC! This would ensure you get the best of both worlds. As the SEO ramps up, you can cut back on the PPC campaign: That way you get immediate results but also long-term stability. However, most small businesses are operating on a limited Internet marketing budget. If that’s the case, we generally recommend SEO. That’s because SEO can be looked as more of an investment than an expense. The simple truth is that it is a more cost-effective strategy. Of course, it all depends on your goals, but most of our clients find they’re happy they went with our program over a PPC campaign. That’s generally because the cost is lower and the overall value just can’t be beaten by PPC.

Dip Your Toe in the Water

If you’re ready to try out a little of this SEO thing but don’t want to jump all the way in, Prospect Genius has a great way for you to sample it. Our Ad Blast program can promote your website in all sorts of local places online. We use this strategy for our Lead Generation customers, but we now offer it as a stand-alone service. For a low, one-time fee, we’ll generate a whole pile of links pointing back to your site. We leverage directories, newspapers, classified ads, online magazines, and a bunch of other site types to make your business more visible to people the web. This program is especially effective if you have a seasonal special or sale that you want to advertise online. Give us a call (800-689-1273) if you’d like to learn more about how SEO, our Ad Blast campaign, and the PG team can help your business! Prospect Genius has other services that can complement the Ad Blast program as well. For details, visit our website.