When promoting a website, there are many different techniques that can be used. Ultimately, a decision must be made as to where to invest your hard earned money. As of February 14th, 2007, approximately 80% of all internet traffic comes from search engines, and there are two ways to get a share of this traffic. Traffic can be obtained via the natural listings through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or via the Sponsored listings by setting up a Pay per Click (PPC) campaign. In reality, SEO and PPC differ in many important ways; both have their strengths and weaknesses and both suit different circumstances.
There are many common misconceptions surrounding SEO and PPC. One such misconception is that SEO is free and this is often listed as an advantage over the costs involved with Google AdWords and other PPC networks. With natural search, you will not pay every time someone clicks through to your website, but it should not be thought of as free. It is strongly advised to let professional optimisers carry out the SEO on your website and this will come at a cost. The alternative DIY option may seem appealing but will take a lot of time and is still likely to cost you money when you commence your link building strategies. Added to this is the possibility that you may “upset” the search engines if you do not know the “dos” and “don’ts” of natural SEO. So, if we assume that natural SEO will cost you money it begins to look more like PPC is the winner, but with one major difference.
Natural Search Engine Optimisation takes a lot of time and effort. A Google AdWords campaign can be up and running within fifteen minutes getting target traffic to you website and generating sales from the word go. However, natural listings can take months to arrive and there is no solid guarantee that they will arrive at all. This scares a lot of people off SEO; people want results they can see and they do not have the patience to wait several months for them. Natural Search Engine Optimisation is also a very intrusive procedure. A website’s position in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is dependant on a number of on-page factors such as page titles, descriptions and content. When starting an SEO campaign, you may discover that your website’s navigation needs to be completely reworked or that your SEO firm is insisting that they need to add 500 words of keyword rich content to your homepage. Before you sign up with an SEO firm, you should always discuss what work will need to be done to avoid any future upsets.
So far, compared to PPC, SEO seems to be the less desirable option: It requires more effort, takes longer to achieve and still costs money. Although it is true that an SEO campaign does cost money, it is much cheaper in the long run and will give a better ROI than you will achieve through paid listings. Once you have improved your website’s status and get the listings you were after, the bulk of the work is done. Although it is advisable to continue investing in link building service and keep an eye on the competition, it should cost you no where near as much to maintain as it did to set up. In many cases it is possible to stop all SEO efforts altogether and still enjoy first page listings for years to come. While this may not be the reality for most commercial sites, SEO can generate huge amounts of traffic and can give an unbeatable ROI in the long term.
Although most people’s websites and business requirements can be wildly different, it is generally a good idea to invest money in both strategies. Investing in Natural Search Engine Optimisation will give the best long term ROI, while a simultaneous PPC campaign will provide a steady stream of traffic until SEO efforts come to fruition. There is also an added bonus that the on page SEO strategies are likely to increase your landing page quality score and reduce the cost of your paid ad placements in Google. Whichever methods you choose to pursue, it is sound advice to enlist the services of a professional company, chose the company carefully and make sure you know exactly what you are signing up for before you commit to anything.