Imagine you are an entrepreneur of a small boutique, do you have enough resources to allocate to traditional modes of marketing and promotions? Spending substantial amount of your budget on advertising expenditure at this stage of your business would not be the greatest idea. However, you can consider marketing your business online.
Online marketing is the way ahead
In this age of the Internet and technology, consumers are no longer only finding their markets through traditional means. Gone are the days when you found your audience via print and media.
The customers today are the most active online. The Internet is where they migrate to when in need of information and service. It is easier, cost and time effective. In such a circumstance how do brands and companies reach out to their target market?
Changes are that you would run into SEO and PPC if you have done your homework. These marketing tactics reduce barriers and help marketers target their audience accurately and efficiently. These are suite of solutions offered under digital marketing and often overlap. But what exactly are these tools?
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization iso increase their visibility on search engines by optimizing your website based on search engines’ rank mechanism (namely algorithm ). A site that is SEO friendly increases its chance of higher-ranking in online searches and drives more traffic.
SEO marketing is especially crucial for small and online businesses. The cost and effort involved compared to traditional marketing is relatively less and the returns are long-term. Many start-ups and successful enterprises today have SEO enriched websites that allow them to directly access their consumer base few clicks away; this is possible even across the globe.
How does SEO work?
SEO works on the basis of embedded links and keywords. The automated bots (namely “spiders” or “crawlers”) on the internet then crawl the links for the words typed in the search engine and display the most relevant information. The first page usually is reserved for the most popular search results, meaning more frequently visited sites for the particular search. Hence, if you want your business to gain visibility, the first-half of the search page is where you should be listed.
Using best SEO practices ensures that you drive traffic to your brand and website organically.
Benefits of SEO
Organic traffic = free traffic, kind of…
The SEO traffic is not only organic the quality of traffic is better as well. This traffic is derived out of optimization and the direct cost of acquiring it is negligible.
Visibility and credibility
Companies and brands that appear higher in the search enjoy credibility in the market and helps them cement their presence as one of the industry and brand leaders.
While the traffic with SEO might be free, there is some cost involved to create and maintain the SEO infrastructure in place. This cost usually is however, lower than dedicated PPC strategies.
Long term Return on Investment (ROI)
Optimizing business and pages for SEO ensures that you reap long-term benefits. Sure, you will need to work hard on the backend, but the results are usually there to stay. Great brands and businesses enjoy long-term benefits if they are SEO optimized.
If you want to build your business from scratch and don’t want to invest advertising dollars from the get go, SEO should be the right tool for you. It is sustainable, and will keep on giving results based on how well you optimize your page and content. Websites that are well-optimized continue to get organic traffic long after the initial tuning.
Higher click-through rates
Online audience don’t really like seeing banner ads and pop-ups on their screen. Chances of a user clicking on a organic link is higher than a link that clearly looks like an advertisement. Brands need to fully explore the scope of SEO to increase their click-through rates.
SEO Disadvantages: Things to keep in mind about SEO
Dependent on algorithm
The SEO algorithms are volatile. Google for instance changes their algorithm regularly to filter out spam and irrelevant content cluttering the online sphere.These changes can immediately affect the page ranking of site in searches thereby affecting the traffic.
Time consuming affair
While the benefits of SEO seem substantial, it would be wrong to assume it is easy. SEO is hard-work and requires some effort to optimize the links and websites according to standards for the best possible results. SEO optimization takes time and does not reap instant results.
Not always guaranteed
Even a great site with web and mobile SEO optimization can be replaced with a competitor. It becomes difficult to claim the lost ranking again. Once, the link ends up on the second page you have lost most of your prospective customers. This is one such scenario where PPC would be helpful.
What is PPC
Pay-per Click is a common online marketing tool used by advertisers and marketers to acquire customers. PPC or pay-per click is another internet advertising model. These are ads placed usually above the organic SEO results.
How do you spot a PPC from a regular search engine result? They are usually at the top most fold of the page or at the lower fold. There is a clear indicator that the link is sponsored or an ad.
How does PPC work?
These ads take the prime space and they come at a cost. But how exactly is the cost decided? There are two methods, flat rate is a fixed rate per click. The other is auction based which involves bidding for particular keywords.
Google Adwords is one of the most popular frameworks used by online marketers. The process is simple, you create an account, add your words and start bidding. The portal is comprehensive and offers services like monitoring and tracking the campaign.
Benefits of PPC
One of the biggest advantages of PPC is that you get to see the results almost instantaneously.
PPC can be customized and tested to understand customer metrics. The changes and execution of the campaign is faster to implement.
Precision in audience targeting
This method of online advertising is highly targeted. A business can choose their target right down to their demographics and also include some behavioral aspects to get the accurate audience. If you are a local business you can target your ads to your neighbourhood and hence increase chances of conversion.
Due to comprehensive frameworks like Google Adwords, marketers can track and monitor their PPC campaign each step of the way. These portals are capable of creating extensive reports that track the profit/loss derived by the campaign and offers real-time measurements which help in targeted online campaigns.
PPC is highly targeted, hence the chances of active prospects are higher. If the parameters are accurately filled, the chances of your ad reaching the right audience is higher and so is the rate of conversion.
PPC Disadvantages: Things to keep in mind about PPC
Increase in customer acquisition cost
The cost of pay-per click could be steep if the adwords for the particular industry are already high in demand.
Not a long term solution
If you want your business to develop organically without constantly pushing for ad spends, then you need a solid SEO at the backend. PPC ads have a shelf-time.
Online users don’t like seeing ads
Many users today download pop-up blockers and adwares to avoid spotting ads entirely. Most don’t like to see the ads. This where value addition and creating great content comes into picture, SEO tools and sponsored content can be further utilized to push the message home.
Which way to go: SEO or PPC?
Getting a top SEO ranking would be an ideal business situation. However, bigger brands and popular companies dominate the top spots. If you are a small business you will need to overhaul your content extensively to rank higher on SERP. In such a case opting for PPC would be a better idea.
However, if your business has dedicated SEO resources and time, optimizing your page with SEO would be a long-term investment worth considering. This is especially true if your business has a strict budget.
Many brands today use both in tandem to gain an edge over their competitor in the online market. This is a good holistic strategy. The opportunity losses from SEO can be countered with PPC marketing and vice-a-versa. Since SEO and PPC rely so much on data, the collated information can be utilized to develop better customer and marketing metrics, thus limiting any revenue leaks. This in turn helps the company increase net worth and customer base even within a limited brick-and-mortar infrastructure.
Conclusion: pointers for making the right decision
Before opting for either or both models, it is important for your business to assess and align its goals with the outcomes. A business needs to answer hard questions like:
- How much money are you willing to invest monthly?
- How quick do you want the results?
- Is fast-track consumer acquisition is your main goal?
- Are these implementations time sensitive?
- Are you looking for long term value addition or short-term?
- Is your potential target market aware of your services?
- Do they need to be educated?
The answers to these crucial questions will be the best indicators for your decision making.