PPC vs. SEO: Which Attracts More Business to Your Website?
What’s the best strategy for catching the attention of shoppers on-line? Small businesses know how competitive it is to not only attract a shopper’s attention but to close the sale. One method is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), where you optimize your website to win a first page placement on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The second method is Pay-Per-Click, where you bid on and purchase keywords used by browsers to obtain a first page placement. Thoughtful, persistent SEO effort is necessary but not always a sure-fire bet. PPC is often the answer to get your site seen but can be expensive. Which strategy has the better success rate? The answer is using a mixture of both strategies at various times in the sales cycle and the lifecycle of the business.
Search engine optimization makes your website conform to the Google algorithm that determines where your site will appear in an organic search. Some elements the algorithm looks for are:
- Content – Identify a purpose for the site and create content that communicates that purpose. Know who your target customer is and include content appealing to their likes and needs. Content should be clear and concise. Information about purchase decision criteria such as shipping and return policies should be visible often. Easy navigation should lead the customer to the purchase page.
- Keywords – The words or phrases shoppers use when doing a Google search are keywords. When you’ve identified them, include them on the homepage and throughout your site. Include keywords in page headers, graphics and links between pages.
- Blogs – An informational or educational blog enhances the quality of your website and improves its SEO. Original, relevant content written with your target customer in mind adds to the credibility and quality of your business.
- Metadata – This is descriptive information about each page of your website that visitors don’t see but can improve SERP results. It gives search engines information about the website page. Descriptions should include keywords but not be too wordy.
- Fast load times – The algorithm likes sites that load quickly. Visitors have no patience for slow loading pages or photos and videos.
- Mobile optimization – Shoppers purchase at least as much using mobile devices as on laptops or PCs. Your site must be appealing and easy to use on all devices.
Well designed sites with these elements help get a first page search result. Google algorithms change often, and keywords may change with seasons or changes in buyers’ tastes. Optimizing search engine results is therefore an ongoing task. And small businesses know that even with careful SEO, it can be very difficult to improve their placement on the search page, at least in the short term.
Think of SEO as the long-term strategy for SERP. It is necessary and helpful in the long term to use, modify as needed and experiment with. But for short term results, paid ads can often show faster results.
Pay-per-click places your website more prominently on the search results page. For a Google search, businesses bid on a keyword they believe shoppers will use in their Google search. Popular keywords get higher bids. The business incurs a charge each time a shopper clicks on a website in the search results.
PPC is great for new businesses who need to “get noticed” quickly, or for those with time-sensitive offers, such as holiday offers or new product introductions. PPC can get expensive. It’s important to monitor it closely to see what’s working and modify what isn’t.
Which method is more profitable, SEO or PPO? There is no straightforward answer, as too many factors contribute to results. For small businesses, it makes sense to use both methods ongoing and make changes along the way. A successful strategy is to try both, track both and modify the keywords and other elements of both carefully and regularly. Google analytics has tools for tracking to help determine what is working well. Our blog on Data Driven Marketing talks about the benefits of Google analytics.
Wheaton Website Services will help you design an optimized website that will help grow your business. We will help you create content that engages visitors to increase sales and profitability. Contact us to learn how we help small businesses design and maintain their websites.