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What approach is best? AdWords or SEO or both?

How SEO can help your business

In a SEO or natural search marketing campaign, sites are usually ranked according to their relevant web-content, links-popularity, ‘ease-of-use’ navigation and other criteria defined by different search engines.

The key SEO goal is to gain better search engine rankings by enhancing the user relevance of your web-content. This is achieved by using popular keyword/phrases and incorporating user friendly website features e.g. meta tags, title tags, appropriate headlines/subheadings and cross linking of the relevant web-pages.

Search engines reward your site with higher search results in the ‘natural search’ or the middle portion of their search result page. As search engines deliver amongst the best returns in web marketing, SEO is a vital first step in developing a successful internet marketing campaign and it helps in making your site more user-friendly. If effectively used, a well managed SEO campaign builds your business’ brand and boosts customer retention. However if the SEO strategy is used in isolation, it does suffer from some drawbacks.

SEO process is a long term business-appeal building process as search engines do take time in comparing your site’s relevance with the other millions of competing/similar websites on the Internet. As the search engine crawlers’ search algorithm is forever changing, to provide a better search experience, there is no guarantee for ‘permanently-high-rankings’. An ‘only SEO strategy’ may not deliver quick sales conversions on any new product/service launches or ‘speedy lead generation’ for new business division launches.

How AdWords and Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising can help your business

AdWords / PPC is part of paid search engine marketing (SEM) campaign and this does not rely on free-natural search engine results. These ads are linked to targeted keywords and appear on the top or on the right hand side of the search result page. PPC ads help in getting assured exposure of your message on popular search engines and targeted Websites.

PPC ad pricing is based on a global auction model where marketers determine the value of each web-visitor by bidding for a particular cost per click (CPC) for their targeted keywords. Higher the bid, higher is the ranking of their PPC ad in the paid listings side of the searchpage: within a set of search-results.

With PPC ads advertisers are able to quickly attract potential customers for specified offerings or business transactions e.g. form/data filling.For new business startups, PPC may provide a viable alternative to the slow and risky SEO campaign for building an effective sales pipeline. PPC is also very effective for marketers wanting to test the size and profile of the online opportunity available from Google.

However, PPC ad campaigns do have some drawbacks. As the keyword bid prices continue to rise, it is difficult to decide on the most cost effective set of keywords. While PPC ads may get you more traffic quickly; their ability to effect beneficial transactions depends on the persuasive capability of the landing page / website section these visitors visit after clicking on the PPC ad.

As PPC is a text only ad, marketers cannot leverage the power of their logos / brand-images and have to restrict their ad message to a specified word/character limit.

Combined SEO & PPC strategy: Getting the best of both worlds

SEO & PPC campaigns often have different optimisation points and they both effectively supplement each other. Smart marketers benefit from better SEO and PPC campaign synergies by using both simultaneously. While PPC ads may generate targeted traffic to your site, it is effective SEO that converts them into buying customers on relevant webpages / landing pages linked to specific offers.

PPC ads enable you to test different creative approaches (words & concepts) and implement their ‘relevance-learning’ on your site content for higher conversion rates and SEO results. According to latest Forrester research more than sixty percent visitors trust the natural search results. So while PPC ads can act as gateway to your marketing goals, SEO can help you ‘earn’ the planned the ROI by generating better value for visitors and earning their trust.

Often, natural SEO is focused on popular traffic driving keywords and are too expensive for PPC. However PPC ads could be used to drive traffic from your ‘long-tail’ of keywords e.g. ‘misspellings’ not usually picked up by organic search.

PPC ads can be used to retain visibility in search pages, while you tweak your SEO campaign to regain top search-page-rankings. Filling up the gaps of the each other is far easier when SEO and PPC campaigns are run at the same time and place. Combining PPC and SEO thereby delivers better returns in a well coordinated internet marketing campaign.