Search Marketing - SEO vs PPC

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Search Marketing - SEO vs PPC

The Case of the Rabbit and the Hare..

As a business owner you need to have effective marketing strategies for bringing new customers to your web site. "Search Marketing' or getting customers from search engines is still the most popular, and when done correctly the most effective way of getting customers off the Internet.

There are two dominant types of Search Marketing - Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC).

They both revolve around identifying a set of 'keywords' that are relevant to the product or service of the business and trying to get their web site listing to display in the search results so as to attract customers who are interested in buying their stuff.

The difference is that SEO target the 'natural' (free) search results, and PPC targets the paid adverts (have a look at a Google Search result to see the difference).

In SEO the marketing strategy involves using a list of keywords to optimise on site content and a link building campaign to get search to a) index the web site's pages, and b) increase the rank of the pages in search results that are relevant to that keyword.

In a PPC campaign you also use a list of keywords to develop a series of micro adverts that you then competitively bid on to  display for the desired keywords. Then you pay for when someone 'clicks' on the advert. (Google Adwords PPC campaign)

SEO vs PPCSo which one is best?

SEO will provide you with 'free' inbound traffic, but there is time, effort in cost in getting and maintaining the search engine ranking placements required to deliver that 'free' traffic. It can also take a few months to start seeing any results.

PPC can be set up and running in a matter of minutes to deliver traffic to your site. Crafting an effective campaign probably takes a bit longer, but nonetheless the set up time is days rather than the months you might expect with SEO. However PPC can be get expensive, particularly if your product/service is in a competitive category. PPC also isn't a set and forget marketing task either, there is a job to do on monitoring results, adjusting ads, adding/removing keywords and making sure Google doesn't eat your advertising budget completely.

So SEO or PPC?

Let's make a simple comparison between Google AdWords and link building campaign where the main goal is to increase natural rankings on Google and bring your keywords on the 1st place of Google.

Estimating Clicks and Visitors For example, you want to get targeted visitors from Google for keyword "travel agent Brisbane". By taking a look at Google Keyword Tool, we can see that the number of global monthly searches for "travel agent Brisbane" equals 1,600.

Not all of these people will actually visit your website. On our estimation, if you buy Google Ads, you will get about 400 clicks per month. Experience with both SEO and Google Ads shows that in most cases natural rankings on Google bring 15-30% more traffic than Google Ads, so if you're #1 in natural Google search results, you'll get around 460 clicks per month (that's only 15% more).

To compare the Return on Investment:

1. Adwords An average CPC for "travel agent Brisbane" is $1. So 400 clicks will cost you about $400 per month. This may be a good cost for targeted visitors, moreover, you can start getting them as soon as you start your adwords campaign. For 2 years you'll spend $400 * 24 months = $9,600 for AdWords and get 400 * 24 = 9,600 visitors. $1 per visitor.

2. Natural Google Rankings thanks to link building to bring your website to the 1st place of Google for "travel agent Brisbane", you would need to get backlinks from hotel and travel related websites.

Such a link building campaign may cost you around $200 per month. Link building campaign is a long-term process and top rankings are usually achieved within 4 to 6 months. Sometimes this can happen sooner, but let's count on 6 months, and so on $200 which you'll need to invest in your link building campaign to get in #1 spot on Google.

Once you're at #1 spot, you'll start to get around 460 clicks per month since people are more likely to visit natural search results, than paid ones. Since for the first 6 months you weren't getting any traffic from Google, it means that for the first 2 years you would get 460 of monthly visitors * 18 months (24 - 6) = 8,820 visitors for only $1,200 ($200 monthly budget).

That's only $0.15 per visitor in comparison to $1 per visitor from Google AdWords! Let's calculate how much you would save, 9,600 visits that you got from AdWords for $9,600.

You would pay for them using SEO only: 9,600 * $0.15 per visit = $1,440. So $9,600 - $1,440 = $8,160 of savings within the first two years! $8,160 / 24 = $340 per month.

Also direct visits from natural search results convert 30% better. Perhaps explained by the fact that many people have more trust in natural search results, rather than in paid ads.

Moreover, by improving rankings for one keyword, means you will get higher rankings for many other relevant keywords on Google as well. For instance, when you get backlinks for "travel agent Brisbane", you'll also get better rankings for such keywords as "Brisbane travel agent", "travel agencies in Brisbane", "Brisbane travel", etc. Likely some of them will appear in the Google Top 10 and bring you even more traffic.


In the long term Google Adwords becomes too expensive in comparison to a SEO campaign:

$1 per click in comparison to just $0.15 per click within the first 2 years.

The difference becomes even bigger over time as you'll get more Google Trust Rank, higher Google PageRank, and it will become even easier to get high rankings for more and more of your keywords.

However, to be successful in SEO, you need to have patience and to be able to invest in improving your rankings over around 6 months while getting minimal or even no return on investment. If you can allow that, than SEO is certainly a much better way for getting high quality leads from Google to grow your business.

If you just can't wait and need leads straight away, a useful strategy is to use a Google PPC campaign to get new leads flowing and using the data that you generate to build, improve and transition to a SEO campaign over time.

And if you want to supercharge your SEO Campaign there are also a range of tools now available to make the whole process a lot about this in my next article on Super Charging a SEO Campaign.

Article by Nigel Martin, for Web Sites & Social Media under management - SEO Campaigns - PPC Campaigns.

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