It’s bad enough that you just learned the importance of search engine optimization. You’ve even taken the first steps into making sure each new page of content you post is optimized for Google searching. Now you hear of another important acronym, PPC, and you are, once again, thrown into a realm of confusion and misdirection. What is PPC? How important is it to Google? Does it take priority over SEO? What are the competitors using? Can both be used simultaneously? These are not dangerous questions to ask. In fact, they are encouraged, as well as many other inquiries. However, before we delve deeper, we can answer one question straight out. If Google is involved with the resource in any way, then yes, it is important.
Understanding PPC & SEO
To understand PPC, it might make sense to first have a better comprehension of SEO. Search engine optimization is the process of modifying the content on webpages to the specifications set by Google (and other search engines’) algorithms, while maintaining the optimal readability to users viewing the page. Google rewards pages that not only strictly follow the algorithm, but are also the most relevant as well as popular choices for the search term entered by “ranking” or displaying that page above others in search results (SERPs). Many factors go into matching specifications for these algorithms. While not all requirements must be fulfilled, it makes sense to try to meet 100% of them if you can as the rewards will go to the page doing the most work.
Some of the tasks that are pleasing to search engine algorithms can be as simple as entering a description for each page that is trying to be ranked, setting a title and using correct “tags” to highlight important headings and layout structures, linking internally and externally on your page, and many other techniques. A popular saying amongst SEO professionals is, “Content is King,”which basically means you can never go wrong adding more content to your site in the eyes (or algorithms) of search engines. This is very different from “keyword stuffing” which is an old tactic once used to trick search engines. By having such a high density of a keyword on one page, search engines ranked them as “relevant” and would elevate the page above others. Now, as algorithms have changed…again, it is more desirable, (by Google and others), to have pages full of relevant, well-formed content. Now, instead of a full page dedicated to one keyword, multiple keywords or phrases can be included in the page content to not only increase readability, but also to allow more keywords a chance to help rank the page. There is a lot more than can be typed in even a long blog to explain the process and purpose of SEO; however, this basic description is a good refresher on the general knowledge of search engine optimization. But, how does it compare to PPC?
While all businesses, blogs and pretty much any site or page rely on SEO to be found easily in SERPs, this is not the same for PPC. Not all companies need to delve into PPC, and some businesses can even lose money by even trying it out. PPC or point-per-click campaigns are advertising strategies that work through “bidding” to bring the target webpage in display to the user. While this may seem the same as SEO, (and even has some of the same requirements and its own algorithms), it’s a totally different ball game.
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While SEO and PPC can both be done by the owner’s themselves, PPC will require a budget to operate. There is no way to determine how expensive these “campaigns” will become for any specific business without some analysis and trial and error. Some things to be considered before starting a campaign are:
- What keywords do I want to rank for?
- What keywords are my competitors using?
- Which “landing pages” do I want my keywords to point to?
- Who is my target audience?
- How and where do I want my ads displayed?
All but the last point sounds familiar to SEO. A lot of this research can be completed before SEO and PPC are even implemented. Both processes are important to growing businesses. But what is it that really sets them apart? And, which should you use in your business?
Comparisons Between PPC & SEO
One of the main comparisons between search engine optimization and pay-per-click is in the title. With PPC you are, essentially, bidding on keywords you have chosen against competitors for the same word or phrase. The company that wins the bid will have their ad displayed in SERPs above the losing bidder, if the losing bidder is placed at all. However, it’s important to note that just bidding more money on a keyword WILL NOT guarantee the win. Just like SEO, PPC has its own set of algorithms that must be satisfied before bidding even takes place. The way you write your ads, how you track them, where you display them, or to whom you are displaying them are some factors that can influence the algorithms set in place. Having a huge budget for your keywords that point to ads that are in no way relevant to what you’re promoting is a sure way to make sure you’re never displayed. A heavy amount of research and analysis should go into each campaign before it is enabled. And even then, PPC will never be a “set it and forget it” solution. It needs constant monitoring, testing, and manipulation to not only get ads displayed and ranking number one, but also to keep them there.
So, when wondering which of these resources your business needs, you need to first research:
- What kind of company are you?
- What audience you are targeting?
- What kind of budget you possess?
- If you implement either process, who will handle it?
- How are you measuring success?
You may find that you only need SEO because you aren’t selling anything and just want to get out information. You might find that you only need PPC because you only have a shopping cart and just want to sell individual products. Maybe your business is small and while you want to rank number one, you don’t have the products or budget to compete with similar brands. Maybe you are doing so well ranking in SERPs through SEO and now you are ready for the next phase, which includes having your products displayed in as many places as possible when your term is searched.
While SEO and PPC might seem similar for those just learning about ranking, the differences between them is enough that a serious business owner should not take their implementation lightly. While both are used in ways to make your business appear above others in search engine result pages, their purposes and the success when using them varies widely. Neither should be put in place without research and analysis, not just with these resources, but also with the goals and direction of your own business. Don’t let this knowledge instill fear into your business plan. Instead, let it fuel your idea with new tools that are almost guaranteed to make your business better than your competitors without this information. And always remember, if it gets too complicated, there are many of us who have your back.