On the web, businesses behave far differently from the real world, and as a consequence, the marketing methods used by them will greatly differ. While for a brick-and-mortar company almost all of its business will depend on location factors (where it is located and where does it advertise), the same does not hold true for online businesses. For an online business (or any website for that matter) to succeed on the Internet, it can’t just sit there and wait for people to discover it. In fact it is quite the opposite, in order to successfully establish a presence online, a website needs to actively pursue its readers and potential customers.
In order to do so, web businesses have many important tools. Two of the most known and effective are Search Engine Optimisation (also known as SEO) and Pay Per Click advertising (known as PPC). Here we take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both of them and shed some light on which is the best advertising approach for any web business in the long run.
Have you ever seen those small advertising boxes that appear to the right side of search results and in different locations on some websites? This is the Pay Per Click advertising method put into practice. PPC works by displaying these types of ads for your website on any major search engine of your choice, be it Google, Yahoo, Bing and others. To sum it up in a few words: You select the keywords on which you want your ad to appear and ‘bid’ against others who are targeting the same keywords. The more you are willing to pay per click your ad achieves, the higher your ad will appear. Each campaign is usually composed of 1000 clicks on your ad.
The most obvious benefit of PPC campaigns is that you can enjoy instant gratification to your advertising efforts since the ads go live immediately. This kind of immediate response fits perfectly if you are running a time-sensitive sale or campaign on your site, as well as when you want to increase the traffic a particular page or product on your site receives. This type of campaign is especially useful when you have a Christmas sale for a product running on your website.
PPC is also 100 percent effective, since you only pay for the visitors that click and go to your site, a great advantage over traditional print-advertising methods.
Search Engine Optimisation
On the other side of the coin, we have Search Engine Optimisation (SEO from now on). This advertising method is by far the most preferred by website owners around the world, but also the hardest to take advantage of. SEO works quite differently than PPC, since instead of paying for the advertising, all the exposure your website gets is free. There is a catch of course, and in this case it is that search engines by default display 10 (ten) results per page. It is also a proven fact that people usually do not go further than the second or third page of their search results when they surf the web. So, if you put together these two facts, we have that your website needs to be among the top 30 displayed results on search engines in order to be relevant for web users.
And so, the natural question arises: How do I get my site among the top 30, or even the top 10 search engine results? The answer is with Organic Search Engine Optimisation (Organic SEO). When a search engine wants to rank a site, it considers many variables, like content quality, the time people stay reading the website, keywords used and much more. To perform Organic SEO is to manually tweak keywords within your website pages (“on-page criteria”) and to control some other off-page criteria as well, such as inbound links to your site, all in order to entice the search engines’ analyzing mechanisms to rank your site better.
However, many people think that for proper SEO to take place, all you need is to just stuff your website with keywords. But the truth is that by doing so without knowledge or measure will in fact be counter-productive for your site. This is because search engines have extremely smart and sensitive mechanisms that can tell when a keyword is being repeated just because, and will punish websites who do that by ranking them lower or even by completely removing them from their listings.
Organic SEO vs. PPC: The lowdown
So, after all we have learned above, which is the most recommended method of advertising? The answer is quite simple. Any website that can produce a good ranking on search engines with organic SEO will definitely have the upper hand when it comes to exposure.
Of course, PPC can give immediate exposure and is a good option for someone just starting on the web, but be aware that the moment you stop paying for your PPC, results will stop coming in. On the other hand, once optimal results have been achieved on search engines by using a professional Organic SEO service, they remain free and are far easier to maintain, requiring just continuous updates with good content and sporadic technical checks.
SEO’s results will not be immediate, but they will be more reliable and last for far longer, which is the perfect business model for any company: Excellent results with zero expenses. Because the truth is, that if you have a growing online business, you need free, ongoing traffic, not paid, one-time solutions.
Therefore, you can still rely on PPC for time-sensitive campaigns that require immediate response or for giving your online business a head-start. However, in the long run, the free search engines are still (and will continue to be for a long time) the best place for your website to be.