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Search engine marketing - optimisation versus ppc - which is right for you?

Promoting website's online can take many forms. The two most popular ways to promote your website is through search engine optimisation and pay per click (PPC) advertising. The aim of this is simple; to get the people searching for your product / service onto your website. How they achieve this goal differs

(image) Search engine marketing

Advantages of search engine optimisation

  • Once you’ve reached top positions, you should stay there
  • More searchers click on ‘organic results’ (around 60% vs. 40% PPC)
  • Your site could appear in hundreds of search results pages
  • Cheaper than PPC in long run

Disadvantages of search engine optimisation

  • Very time consuming
  • Can take up to 6 months to see results
  • Can’t guarantee placements
  • Search engines change and evolve so you can lose positions overnight

Pay Per Click advertising

The problem with most website's is that they can't be found in major search engines without a lot of effort. Around 85% of people now use a search engine to find what they are looking for so unless you are on the first page for your target keywords and phrases, the investment in a website can be wasted.

One of the most cost effective ways to advertise is to use Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing on major search engines such as Google.

PPC adverts are the boxes usually shown on the right hand side of search results The adverts work by bidding on keywords and phrases; the higher the bid, the higher your advert is placed.

With PPC you only pay for your advert when someone clicks on it, so you can set up hundreds of key phrases and only pay when someone clicks on them.

There are three key players in the PPC industry; Google, Overture (now Yahoo Search Marketing) and Miva (formerly Espotting). These three companies feed the majority of the search networks.

Advantages of pay per click advertising

  • You only pay when advert is clicked
  • When the advert is clicked it takes the user straight to relevant page
  • Budgets can be set; and stuck to!
  • Detailed reporting of what people are searching for allow you to optimise your adverts and landing pages
  • Generate website traffic for minimal investment
  • Can be up and running in minutes
  • Allows you to split test

Disadvantages of pay per click advertising

  • Monthly costs incurred
  • Bids can be expensive and budgets can be big to appear in the top positions
  • Can be hard to manage large volumes of keywords and phrases
  • Split testing may mean you have to look again at your strategy

Summary of differences between SEO and PPC

The main difference between SEO and PPC are the risks involved and time to see results.

With SEO, you are trusting the search engine optimiser to achieve good positions. Even experienced professionals sometimes fail to achieve their goals and even when they do, a change to an algorithm can see positions lost in a period of months, weeks or even days.

With PPC the chances of losing positions dramatically are small. You should always be near the top of listings, provided your bids are high enough. However, these guaranteed positions come at a price, staying at the top can be expensive if not managed correctly.