It’s the age old question. Should you use Pay Per Click service such as Google’s Adwords so that people can find your website, or should you invest time and money in getting your website properly optimized so that it can be found in the organic ranking results?
Without knowing your website’s objectives, or your company philosophy that is a tough question for us to answer. There are also other monetary and marketing factors that need to be considered before a determination on whether a choice of one, or a combination of both would be your perfect fit.
In order to avoid disappointment your expectations need to be set at a reasonable level, and having the answers to all of the above will help to set those expectations.
Whether you are employing a search engine optimization company to do this work for you, or if you plan on doing the work yourself, this article will act as some baseline knowledge for you to build upon.
The first thing you should know is the difference between Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. A lot of people confuse these terms but they are different and should not be confused.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is what you do to get high organic rankings on the search engines. Ideally you would like your website to appear on top of the first page of search engines such as Google and Yahoo any time someone types in one of your selected key phrases. However without employing good ‘White Hat’ search SEO techniques that goal is unlikely to happen.
Organic listings (which are a direct result of your search engine optimization efforts) are seen by the public as being more unbiased than the paid for sponsored listings. Therefore immediately the trust factor is increased. One study showed only 14% of searchers stated that they trust paid listings, and 29% found them to be ‘annoying’. As mentioned, one benefit of good search engine optimization is that the results are usually lasting and once you get good organic rankings, even if you stopped and did nothing else there is a good chance that your site will remain visible on the Internet for years to come. I am not saying they will remain on page one of the major search engines results pages, because the likelihood is that they won’t keep their current ranking if you suddenly stop what you are doing, but they will show up somewhere in the results pages. The reality is though, that initially search engine optimization (unless you are able to do it yourself) can be just as costly, or even more expensive than PPC or paid advertising. If you choose the wrong search engine optimization company to work with then it could be tantamount to throwing your money down the drain. No doubt you have seen some companies ‘GUARANTEEING’ a number 1 ranking on page 1 of Google. If you get these types of offers in your in-box then my advice is to run a mile. Google is an independent company which doesn’t do deals with search engine optimization companies to allow them to guarantee a number 1 ranking for any particular key phrase.The only way to acheive that all important number one on page one ranking on Google or any other search engine is to ensure you follow the guidelines for those specific search engines that you are targeting, and to continue working on your site to ensure others don’t overtake your site on the rankings list. If you do employ a search engine optimization company to do this work for you, ensure that they do both on-page and off-page optimization. Ensuring that your meta-tags are correctly inserted is not going to be enough, on its own, to move your site up the rankings list so it is in a prominent position so that it can be found.
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING
Search Engine Marketing really encompasses everything that you do in order to promote your website on the search engines. When done well it will not only increase your traffic, but in the case of businesses it will hopefully increase profits. Search Engine Marketing actually includes Search Engine Optimization as a sub-set. So when people talk about Search Engine Optimization they are talkig about a part of Search Engine Marketing rather than the subject as a whole. Other aspects of search engine marketing include:
– Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Setting up successful Pay Per Click campaigns is an art in itself. Simply put you will set up a very short text ad which is worded to entice someone to click it in order to get back to your website. Once the ad is created it will be linked to a series of key phrases, each of which you will attach a maximum bid limit. When any of those key phrases are searched upon your ad will appear in the sponsored ads section of the search engine results pages. If someone clicks on your ad, then you will be charge a certain amount of your money, the amount of which is calculated based on your maximum bid for that specific key phrase and how much competition you have with others ads from other site owners.
– Paid Directory Inclusion
Some directories allow you to pay for your website details to be included immediately rather than having to wait for a certain period of time. For some directories paid directory inclusion is the only was for you to get your website listed. Others use it as an option.
Why would you want to pay to be included in a directory if most people use Google or one of the other major search engines to find businesses? Well you might be targeting a niche group of customers who use that directory on a regular basis. In those kinds of cases it may be a good investment to pay to be included, especially if your competitors are showing up there.
– Paid Advertising
Some websites give you the opportunity to place ads on their pages where you pay for the ads based on how often they are shown on their pages. Unlike Pay Per Click advertising, with this method you have to pay regardless of whether or not your ad is clicked once it has been shown on the web page. You really need to have some form of measuring tool on your site to see how many referrals these sites are sending you, otherwise you could spending a lot of money with no ROI.
So looking at the last three aspects of Search Engine Marketing you can see that each of these potentially offer immediate returns in terms of the visibility of your website on the search engines and other directories.
Pulling together all, or some of these techniques could, and should, help you to increase traffic to your website, which after all is the main purpose of this exercise. So if time and/or your budget allows then Search Engine Marketing could be just what the doctor ordered for your website.
Having said that though I wouldn’t suggest any kind of paid search engine marketing efforts without having a search engine optimization program running in tandem.
Without running a search engine optimization campaign you really are at the mercy of how long your budget will allow you to continue paying for the paid ads and PPC campaigns. Once the budget runs out, or you decide you don’t want to pay anymore then your search engine visibility is back to the point you where it was before you started all of this search engine marketing.
Something you should consider when deciding to eliminate your search engine optimization techniques from your search engine marketing campaigns is that most people click on the organic rankings (usually on the first page of the search results) than those who click on the sponsored results on the sides or top of the pages.
Another consideration is that studies have shown that 70% of searchers prefer to click on the organic listings compared to the paid listings. But since your ad is competing against all the other ads out there who target the same key phrases as yours then this 30% figure is reduced considerably.
If you are getting 3% of those people who search your key words clicking on your paid ad then you are doing really well. So if you do take this route make sure that you have a well written and appealing ad to entice prospective customers to choose yours above the others.
Finally I would like to mention ‘analytics′. Regardless of whether you choose one or more of the techniques you really need to be measuring the performance of all your hard work. Install something like Google Analytics on the back end of your website so you can measure things like how many visitors are coming to your site and where they are being referred from. If your hits don’t improve as a result of your search engine marketing efforts you definitely need to revisit what you have done and then make the required adjustments so you get better results.
I wish you the best of luck and all the hits your heart desires!
Are you looking for search engine optimization experts in Fort Myers? Alchemy Digital Media offers a full search engine marketing service and includes a limited guarantee for all clients that we work with