You can pay for traffic using the PPC advertising programs provided by Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. They enable you to display ads in the sponsored results section of each search engine’s results page or the feed of a social media platform. You pay a fee based on how competitive your chosen keyword is and how many clicks your ad receives.
Alternatively, you can build traffic for free by increasing your rankings in the organic search results. These are the listings displayed below the paid/sponsored results. It takes time to reach the top of the organic results for the keyword(s) related to your product/service offerings, but the free targeted traffic will prove to be well worth the investment down the road.
Which approach is better?
It depends on a multitude of factors including your needs, budget, business goals, and website quality. If you want more traffic fast and are willing to pay for it, then PPC might be right for you. But if you’re operating on a smaller budget and are ok investing in something that will take time to build & see results, optimizing your site & content to help increase your organic search rankings through SEO efforts may be a better option1.
One of the biggest problems I see with many clients is that they come in wanting immediate results, whether that’s product sales, business leads, etc. The reality is that both PPC and SEO take time to build, implement, and optimize.
The other problem is that many of these clients come in with a website that’s poorly laid out (i.e. looking like they were made in the 1990s, and very little information and content around why individuals/ businesses should buy from them or utilize their services over their competitors).
Whether you choose to invest in PPC or SEO, your website has to do an efficient job of selling your services and telling visitors (directly or indirectly) why they should work with you over another company—otherwise it doesn’t matter how much you increase your traffic.
When Should I Invest in PPC?
Let’s get to it: when should you focus on PPC instead of SEO? Your company should invest in PPC if:
- You’re looking to quickly increase the amount of traffic coming into your site (not just conversions or leads)
- You’re willing to spend money on advertising within Google & potentially other search and social platforms
- Your website ISN’T designed/ optimized for SEO
- When this is the case, oftentimes we recommend our clients use a landing page creation software (i.e. Unbounce)
- This gives us optimal control over the look and feel of the landing page we’re directing paid visitors to, and we can tailor that page towards a specific type of conversion2, without having to redesign the whole website
- You’re looking to target a specific type of traffic (i.e. by demographic, education, hobbies, etc.)
- You thoroughly explain why you’re better than the competition on your site
And When Should I Invest In SEO?
It’s important to remember that SEO is NOT free. No matter how you look at it, SEO comes at a cost. Whether it’s your own time or hiring an outside firm to develop or manage your SEO strategy, SEO does come with a cost. Invest in SEO if:
- You want to invest in growing traffic for the long-run
- You have quality pages on your site that advertise all your different products and/or services (i.e. this is what we call $$ pages)
- You want to dominate search results for your keyword(s) category
- You want to increase the value of your website
In an ideal world, we would look at both SEO and PPC. They both have pros and cons, but work best when supporting each other. Clients & companies who can get SEO and PPC working in tandem will often be able to drive results that are greater than their individual component parts.
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1 Investing in SEO may require you to also invest in redesigning your website. You can drive all the traffic to your site, but if it doesn’t do a proper job of portraying who you are, your offerings and differentiating factors it’s not going to convert those visitors
2 A phrase used to describe the act of converting a customer who browses your site to a paying customer