Many companies, big or small, use paid search marketing, search engine marketing or paid-per-click (PPC) marketing (it’s the same thing) to promote and grow their business. If you feel like you need to do something to push your business forward, then search engine marketing should be one of the possibilities to consider.
A well-thought-out and carefully managed paid search marketing campaign can help you raise awareness of your business, bring traffic to your website, attract new customers, and achieve many other measurable business goals.
A good marketing plan takes a lot of work to set goals, study a market, and define a target audience. You also need to set a marketing budget, and decide on many other things, such as content and marketing channel that would be the most suitable for your campaign. Perhaps you’d need to train your team or find a marketing agency you can trust your business with.
While staring at this hodgepodge of daunting tasks required to do in the pre-launch phase of your campaign, you come across a new notion, SEO. What is search engine optimization? Do I really have to do all of this?
In a word, yes.
In a few words, if you want to get a great ROI, and achieve your goals, then yes.
Now, let’s head for a somewhat longer explanation, and start with an example.
You decided to run paid-per-click ads, so more people could see your business when they search for handmade jewelry stores online or nearby. You’re not that into digital marketing, and the only thing you’ve heard about PPC ads is that they make companies appear on the top of Google’s search results. So, you hired a digital marketing agency to do the job for you as you want to focus on doing what you do best: make jewelry. Fair enough.
You received a pre-campaign report from your agency, telling you that you need to optimize your website and other online channels for search engines. What does that mean? Can’t you run your PPC ads without SEO?
You can indeed start your search engine marketing campaign without search engine optimization, but this is not that recommended.
SEO is a set of practices used to improve your online visibility, website ranking, and user experience. SEO makes your business more “searchable” or “findable” online – organically. This means that, when a user searches for specific keywords, your optimized website is more likely to show up in search results naturally.
What do organic search results have to do with paid search engine advertising?
While you may think it’s not necessary to do SEO when you’re already paying for your business to appear in SERP, if you truly want to optimize your online presence and reach as many prospects as possible, then SEO is definitely worth considering.
By optimizing your website, not only will you improve your Quality Score, since the quality of your landing page impacts your ad’s position, but you will also improve user experience, thus increasing your chances of having your ads displayed in SERP more frequently.
Imagine you’re running ads including links to a poorly designed website. Content is awful, links broken, pages loading indefinitely… A person who clicked on your ad won’t want to do business with you. They will leave your website without buying – but search engines will still charge you per each click, whether or not a purchase occurred. Lost money – and you don’t want that.
Of course, not all people who click on ads are necessarily looking to buy, which is normal. Sometimes, people aren’t aware that they clicked on an ad at all – or they simply don’t care that you’ll have to pay a few cents or dollars for their visiting your website and just browsing. However, if you can do everything that’s in your power to actually get conversions, why wouldn’t you?
Now, imagine you’ve had your website SEOd. Content is enriched, relevant, useful. Pages are picturesque, loading quickly, providing a seamless user experience. The entire website is easy to navigate through, and people can find what they want with just a couple of clicks. In the back-end, you now have great meta descriptions, well-functioning internal and outbound links where appropriate, stunning images with alt text.. Your other online channels have been optimized as well: you’ve added your business to Google My Business Listings for more local business visibility; your social media profiles are looking nice.
And here comes a girl looking to buy a bracelet, so she types in “handmade bracelet with fast shipping”. When she hits “enter”, your ad appears at the top. She clicks on it, spends some time on your website, and decides you’re a good company to do business with. And she makes an order.
What’s also possible is that a link to your bracelets appears below paid ads as well. If a search engine determines the page is relevant to the user’s search query, it will display it whatsoever. So, you’ll appear twice in SERP, meaning that, even if a person skips ads, your chances of having that person visit your website are greater.
Does this mean I could do just fine without PPC?
Yes, and no. If you’re operating in an industry where the competition is high, you’d better do with some paid search advertising as well. You want to win over new and your competitors’ customers, so you better go rough.
SEO is incredibly useful for both organic and paid search results, but, when combined, SEO and PPC work best. The explanation is quite simple: you need a great website to have your online marketing campaign pay off. That’s what SEO does: to have your ads appear for relevant searches more often, you want the best content, experience, and relevance.
Additionally, with PPC, you can reach more customers as ads can be adjusted to their search queries, and are often more captivating. PPC ads with a straightforward call to action, particular offers and promotions will capture users’ attention as they search for products and services online. Something a simple product page, although optimized, cannot always do.
Yet, it would be silly to run a PPC campaign for purposes other than well-defined, even cashable goals. If you cannot value conversions in terms of some sort of profit, there is no need to spend money on PPC ads.
That said, it all depends on your long-term strategy. For example, you may want to promote your blog with an intention of having people interested in your content, and, consequently, your business. In this case, you might decide to run PPC ads with links to some of your best articles that, in turn, contain links to your products or services that are very likely to convert.
Is this advisable? If you’re 100% sure that you will have a positive ROI, it’s okay. But, try testing out your strategy first. Don’t spend too much money at once. Invest a smaller amount first, and track user behavior and other analytics in order to confirm or refute your initial assumption.
If you want to promote your blog, then it might be better to reach out to other influencers in your industry. Those could be other bloggers, experts, businesses offering solutions that aren’t directly competing with yours – and even competitors, if possible.
Guest blogging might also be a great idea to promote your business and content. If you have a number of followers on social media, they will share your content as well – especially if it’s interesting and useful for other people, too. That’s why your content strategy has to be in line with your long-term goals.
Another way to promote content is through direct outreach. Ask people to recommend your content by including it in theirs. It’s called backlinking.
There’s also a novelty, called “broken link building” – when you find a link to some content that’s not working anymore, and then you recreate a version of it, before outreaching to webmasters who link to that content, asking them to replace the broken link with yours. However, this is often way time-consuming and inefficient, despite the fact there are tools to help you detect broken link on a website. You could spend quite a lot of time working on new content, only to be rejected by webmasters later. Do it at your own risk.
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t do PPC to increase brand awareness. However, sometimes, you might do equally well with a free (or cheaper) option. It’s a good option to build reputation first and then spend more money on promoting your business.
So, SEO is better because it’s free?
SEO isn’t really free. It requires a lot of time to reach the first page of search results. You need to pay people who are going to work on SEO, whether in-house or through an agency. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you earn $1,000 with PPC ads in a month. You won’t get to the first page with SEO in a month. And even if you do, it doesn’t mean you’ll sell.
Of course, this should not be the reason not to do SEO at all. All businesses should optimize their online profiles for SEO, especially their website.
However, SEO is hard to control. It’s not guaranteed. Even if you do create great content, optimize the structure of your website, and follow the best SEO practices, all in order to reach top rankings, there’s still a lot of other factors that could knock you down once again. For example, your competitors might be winning over your customers or prospects through PPC. Google can change its algorithms, so what mattered today won’t matter today in the SEO world.
On the other hand, SEO is a long-term investment in that it benefits your business in the long run if successful. This could mean you can see a better ROI with SEO than with PPC over time.
PPC campaigns can help you generate profits more quickly, and they only take a few hours to set. Your ads will appear in SERP whenever possible, i.e. whenever you win the ad auction. Search engine ad analytics tools allow you to track more accurate data than with SEO, which means you will be able to make more informed decisions, edit settings, and adjust as you go.
While PPC ads might be a quick-earn scheme, you shouldn’t rely solely on them if your marketing budget is limited. If you notice your ad budget is consumed rapidly, or that you’re getting few conversions, you might be doing something wrong. This is another reason why you should be extremely careful in the pre-launch phase, especially when choosing keywords for your campaign. If you pick too broad ones, you risk wasting money on irrelevant searches and clicks; if you pick too narrow ones, you risk not appearing in SERP at all. If you target a wrong audience, again, it’s wasted money.
PPC ad campaigns require a lot of monitoring and testing, which can be time-consuming, so bear that in mind, regardless of whether you have an in-house digital marketing team or plan to hire a digital marketing agency.
Both PPC and SEO can do without one another. However, the best solution is to combine the two if you really want to see your hard work pay off for good. Like everything else, PPC and SEO have their pros and cons, but none of them is serious enough for you not to be able to handle it. PPC ads can be more costly, and demanding more attention, while SEO is a slower path toward progress, but both of the options are quite rewarding for businesses who focus on quality processes to obtain a great ROI. You just need to understand their purpose, and be clear on what you want to achieve with your online marketing campaign. The people you hire should be experts because, if anything, you don’t want to lose money due to campaign mismanagement.
Lastly, not every business needs to pay for SEO services if they’ve done it already. However, occasional checks and updates are required to keep up with search engine algorithms. We at KomDigit give our clients the opportunity to choose whether they’d like us to solely manage their PPC ad campaigns or do SEO as well. It always comes down to your business needs and goals!
If you feel like you need more clarifications, feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help!