When you want your website found on the search engines you have two choices: pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO). What are the differences between them? And which is right for you? Read on to find out:
The object of SEO is to get ranked by Google's organic search algorithm. These are the search results that are not ads. When someone searches on Google, Google's algorithm tries to find the most relevant and authoritative website for that searcher. Google chooses the most relevant site by a lot of factors such as the text on the page, the unseen information on the page such as metadata, and what other websites link to that website. To improve in these rankings you need interesting, unique information on your website and other websites to link to yours to show that your website is an authority. Building up SEO takes a lot of time and effort, but the end result is people finding your website for "free." (I put "free" in quotes because you either spent a lot of your valuable time or paid a marketing agency a lot of money to build up your SEO.)
PPC, on the other hand, is where you pay to put your ads on Google. It's nearly instantaneous, you tell Google which searches you want your ad to show for, and what ad to run, and Google shows your ad (if your ad is relevant and your bid is right). In addition to paying Google to show your ad, you will either have to train yourself in how to run the account, or pay someone to manage it for you.
So which one is right for you? Some form of SEO is important for all websites. If you are on a tight budget, you should consider doing it yourself. There is a lot of free material out there to help you know the basics: just search "DIY SEO" in a search engine and check it out. If you have a larger budget, consider hiring someone to help you out: a professional will have more knowledge and experience to help you know what works.
If you need sales or leads right away, PPC is right for you. SEO is great, but it takes a lot of time to get your website ranked on the first page of search results. And you will not get a lot of clicks until your website is on the first page. PPC can give you a lot of traffic right away, although the price may be steep depending on your industry. You may want to consider doing SEO but running PPC ads until SEO starts bringing in the leads.
It is easier to track the success or failure of PPC campaigns. You can track all the sales coming from PPC traffic and see how much you are spending and make a judgment about if it is profitable for your company. You can see which keywords are working and which ones aren't. You can see which ads are generating traffic and which ones aren't. Everything can be tracked. With SEO you have to pay now for traffic later. And even when you see the traffic rolling in it's impossible to tell how much of it is due to which aspects of your SEO campaign. Is traffic coming to your site because of your blog or because another site linked to your site? It's impossible to say.
Hopefully this post has given you a little idea of the difference between SEO and PPC and help you decide how you want to approach advertising your website. You should do some SEO, either by yourself or through an agency. And if you want easy-to-track, quick sales or leads you should try PPC while your SEO campaign gets up to speed.