SEO or PPC?
It’s always comes back to this age old question. Should you be investing your marketing budget in SEO or PPC… Or both?! There unfortunately isn’t a definitive answer to that question, but we have identified some areas which might help you to make a decision with more ease if you are new to online marketing. And we’ve busted a few myths along the way.
PPC: PPC allows you to start showing adverts immediately, meaning it’s an almost instant traffic source. Just create an account, add some keywords, adverts and bank details and you’re away!
SEO: If you need to start driving traffic to your site fast, SEO possibly isn’t the best option for you. It can take days, weeks and sometimes even months for your rankings to improve enough to impact traffic volumes… with Google, unfortunately nothing is ever certain!
Tip: If your budget allows, consider using PPC as a short term fix while building up SEO rankings. This allows for short term gain as well as longer term results.
MYTH #1: “spending more money in Adwords means higher organic rankings”. The answer to this is, erm, no. Unfortunately not! Although huge sites may dominate the organic and paid listings, this is due to the fact that they will be investing heavily in both channels.
PPC: If you are looking to do your website promotion yourself, PPC might be the easiest option for you. It’s very easy to set up a small Adwords campaign and manage it yourself. That said, for your account to be as effective as possible, it will require a sturdy account structure and close management on an on-going basis. Consider having an expert build the campaign for you to manage yourself, or outsourcing it completely. A lot of people find that they save more budget by outsourcing than they actually spend paying for an agency to manage their account.
SEO: There are some basic SEO steps you can take to improve the optimisation of your site yourself, and they should help improve your websites visibility fairly quickly:
1.Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
Title tags remain an incredibly important SEO element. Along with the Meta Description, the title tag often forms the “advert” that is shown to users in the SERPs.
When creating tags for your site, the following rules should be followed:
- Keep Title Tag below 70 characters and Meta Description below 160 characters.
- Ensure that each page on the site has a unique title tag & meta description – avoid missing tags or duplication.
- Use keywords that you want the page to rank for in the title tag & meta description.
- The most important terms should be used towards the start of the title tag.
- Include a strong CTA in the meta description.
- It is a good idea to use the brand name at the end of the Title Tag.
2. Header Tags
The header tags should act as the page headings. If you were writing an essay, the h1 tag would act as the essay title, with h2 & h3 tags acting as the sub headings.
As with the Meta Tags, there are some simple rules that should be followed for effective H tag creation:
- Ensure that the h1 tag is text – often websites will assign the tag to the logo which does not offer SEO benefits.
- Use target keywords in the header tags
- Keep the tags short and snappy – don’t try to stuff loads of keywords into this space.
- There should only be one h1 tag on each page, but its fine to have multiple h2, h3 etc.. tags.
3. On-Page Copy
Your copy should always accurately describe what it is you are offering. It is important to have enough copy on each landing page of the site to ensure that your target keywords can be included in a natural way – we find that 300 words per page is a good ball park figure to aim for. Avoid stuffing keywords into the copy in a way that does not read well. If it doesn’t look right to users, it’ not going to be attractive to search engines either.
4. Image Optimisation
Search engines can’t see images, rendering them pretty much worthless when it comes to SEO. That is unless you give them meaningful filenames and alt tags of course. This is an area that really shouldn’t be overlooked.
Tip: Using your target keywords in the filename and alt tag where possible will help the images to rank for relevant searches on Google too.
5. XML sitemap
It is a good idea to create an XML sitemap containing all the website pages that you want indexed and submit to Google through Webmaster Tools. The sitemap should be updated and resubmitted each time you make any structural changes to the site or add new pages to ensure that Google is aware of all the pages on the site.
Tip: Create a dynamic sitemap if possible – this will automatically update whenever changes are made to the site.
MYTH #2: “SEO is dead!” SEO most certainly is not dead, although a lot of the old, ‘black hat’ techniques that have previously produced positive results are no longer effective. By following the rules, adapting and being inventive there is still a massive amount of benefit that can be seen with SEO.
Are you constantly running new promotions? Adding new products to your site? Changing direction?
PPC: PPC allows almost complete flexibility meaning that advert texts can be changed easily and quickly, bids increased or decreased in line with your strategy, new campaigns and keywords created if needed.
SEO: SEO on the other hand should be viewed as a much more long-term strategy. It’s not a good idea to change direction every few months as it will more than likely hinder any SEO progress.
Tip: Why not consider investing in an SEO project to support your long term strategy while using PPC to promote short term promotions, price decreases, new products and the like. Best of both worlds!
If you are running the online marketing in house then SEO is unlikely to be costing you anything.. other than time. However, if you are deciding whether to invest in outsourcing SEO & PPC work, how will the costs vary?
SEO: if you have ever looked into outsourcing SEO work, you will know that the costs can vary hugely! As SEO work is manual, creative and very time consuming (as well as constantly evolving!) you have to get used to the fact that you will get what you pay for. There certainly are companies out there who offer SEO services from £50-£100 per month… but will that get you anywhere?? In reality, you will need to get used to the fact that you’ll need to spend upwards of £500 per month for high quality SEO service.
PPC: This is a bit of a different story. When outsourcing Adwords management you will not only need to pay for the agencies management time, but also for the direct click costs. This means that PPC will vary hugely depending on your industry and the budgets you have available. Many agencies will charge a % of your Adwords spend as the management fee. Others will ask for a set monthly retainer amount. Again, you will get what you pay for here! Instead of just going for the cheapest price, ask the agencies to explain what you will get for your money. How often will the accounts be checked & managed? Will you get reports? Meetings?
Tip: when starting a new account, it is often possible to get discount codes from Google. Many agencies will have access to promotional codes allowing you up to £75 free Adwords spend – so make sure these are being made the most of!
MYTH #3: “PPC is expensive and doesn’t work”. Although this may be the case for some, it doesn’t have to be true for everyone. It is essential that paid search campaigns are well researched, well-structured and well managed. In this case, they can produce good volumes of cost effective traffic & conversions.
So once all these options have been considered, the next question is – should you bid on a keyword if you already rank organically for that term?
And that is a question that unfortunately doesn’t have a black or white answer! Experts have been saying for years that running SEO and PPC campaigns alongside each other produces higher click through rates and increased traffic & revenue.
“But won’t I just end up paying for clicks that I would have been getting anyway?” you may ask.
Maybe, or maybe not! The results vary hugely from site to site, so it’s something that’s worth testing to see if it’s worth it for you. It’s dead easy to set up a simple experiment – you just need to follow these steps:
- Choose a term that you rank no1 for organically;
- Add this Exact Match keyword as a negative term in your Adwords campaign;
- Monitor the results over a week.
- Remove the negative term from the account;
- Add the Exact Match keyword into your Adwords campaign;
- Monitor the results over a week.
Once you have the 2 weeks’ worth of data you can then compare the results. The important metrics to consider are Conversion Rate, PPC Click through Rate, volume of Organic Visits and profit (revenue minus PPC spend). If you see a substantial increase in profit in the week where you have run PPC and Organic keywords alongside each other, keep doing it!
Hopefully this information has helped you to decide whether you should be jumping on the SEO or PPC bandwagon, or investing in both channels.
It may seem like a daunting decision, but whether you’re dipping your toe into the world of online marketing, or throwing caution to the wind and taking a leap into the deep end there is a wealth of information, advice and assistance out there to make it a painless and worthwhile experience. (We like to think we’re pretty good at what we do, so feel free to give one of the friendly Digirank team a call to chat through the options if you’re still unsure!)