When developing an online marketing strategy, remember that SEO is only half the equation. Consultants and copywriters offering SEO as a stand-alone service would be wise to lift a couple pages from the SEM playbook. Otherwise, they risk selling themselves short.SEM, or “search engine marketing,” includes a vast array of tools and strategies used to create and manage one’s paid advertising. Paid search are those “sponsored” ads that appear at the top or side columns of a search results page. Lately, more companies are turning to paid search. According to SEMPO, businesses spent more than $10 billion for PPC in 2008 and less than $2 billion for SEO. PPC budgets are expected to double by 2013, according to C|Net News.PPC is also flooding the realm of Human Resources. Consider Careerbuilder, Monster and other online job sites. Hundreds of new ads seeking “Search Marketing Managers” and “Internet Marketing Coordinators,” companies seeking new talent to develop and manage their PPC campaigns. When it comes to SEO, one might find job ads where knowledge of the subject is handy but not the main focus.So, why the rush to SEM? Quite simply, paid search offers greater control, flexibility and faster results. A PPC manager can generate multiple ads in the morning, post them in the afternoon, and see them appearing in a results page by end-of-day. As a bonus, most search engines offer free analytics tools that track and measure ad performance.If you consider half the job of marketing is justifying why dollars are being spent, this type of intelligence data becomes of vital importance.Check out some other PPC pros and SEO cons:
PPC costs less (in the short term) – SEO consultant fee can be jaw-dropping, upwards of $10,000 per campaign, depending on the size. Imaging paying as little as $100 a month to run a PPC campaign where you’re not charged unless someone clicks on your ad. How’s that for ROI?
SEO result takes longer – Three to 6 months for newly optimized pages to appear on Google and Yahoo – this, after a month or so of tinkering, testing and writing the SEO copy. With PPC, your ad starts appearing almost immediately after it’s posted.
Control position with paid search – Simply put, SEO is the attempt to convince a search engine that your site is more relevant for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. But you can’t control where you list in the organic search results, and thus, a page might appear on Page One of Google albeit down page. With PPC, you can actively modify bids and swap ads in and out in instant to achieve greater visibility and performance.
No SEO guarantees – And managers are wise to avoid any SEO con artist promising such. SEO does requires a “leap of faith,” as many clients wait with fingers-crossed for their web sites to appear at the top of organic search. At best, SEO is educated guesswork using research, experience and intuition.
The fate of keywords – A decade ago, shady SEOs used keyword stuffing, link farms, article spinning to achieve top rankings. Not anymore. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is causing SEOs to rethink how they market their services. Eventually, LSI will move to the forefront of SEO, and keywords will become commodities bought and sold by SEMs who manage them like stocks or mutual funds.None of this is said to diminish the value or importance of SEO. Statistically, more than half of all search is organic. Companies report greater click through rates (CTC) and conversions through organic search. And then there’s pure economics. SEO is seen as more of a business development expense that pays off in the long run, a little like buying a house (SEO) versus renting one (PPC).The truth is that both SEO and PPC have their weaknesses. If used together, however, they can achieve tremendous results to generate greater lift.
PPC now, SEO later – PPC buffers the 3 to 6 month gap while the search engines are indexing and ranking the new web pages. You can spare the client’s nerves with fast and comprehensive result through PPC, instead of asking them to learn patience. As the SEO kicks in, PPC budgets can be gradually reduced.
Relationship building – Any client will smile favorably on a PPC campaign that’s well organized and carefully executed. It also gives them a chance to see your work ethic in action if they prefer that you manage it for them. Many clients end up disillusioned, not from a poorly designed campaign, but from a well-designed campaign that was monitored carelessly.
PPC helps SEO – Top performing keywords in PPC become the seeds used to grow and develop SEO content. Also, recent studies suggest higher conversions by using both PPC and SEO. Search results where a company is listed both in organic search and sponsored ads connotes industry leadership and builds credibility.PPC also works like an insurance cause or hedge, say if your client’s web site slips in the rankings. Paid search is still there to maintain a presence.So, the next time the client asks, “Which one is better? PPC or SEO; organic search or paid search. Which one should I use?” Offer both. The new business you’ll generate from offering PPC will more than offset the time spent learning Google Adword and/or Yahoo Search Marketing. All it takes is a few hours to get familiar with the basics, and both search engines offer tutorials, which are comprehensive and easy-to-use.