SEO vs PPC--What are they and why should you invest in them? - Oct 2015


By Jay Flynn

Building a website for a business is just the first step to marketing online. Reaching potential customers and driving traffic to the website are also crucial for generating quality leads. The two most common online marketing tools are search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC). But is one more effective than the other? And which will bring long-term value to online marketing versus faster, short-term results? 

Both SEO and PPC have costs associated with them, and each has benefits and shortcomings. SEO is a very broad term encompassing everything done to increase the number and ranking of indexed links to a website for specific keywords. A keyword can be a single word, like “carpet,” or a series of words, such as “Miami carpet store.” A keyword search brings up links in both the advertising section and the organic or non-ad section of a search engine, where there is no cost when a consumer clicks an indexed link. The three most prominent search engines in order of search volume are Google (64%), Bing (20%) and Yahoo! (12%), but there are many smaller search engines as well, such as 

When a consumer types in a phrase or keyword in a search engine, it will return a page of organic website listings based on how relevant a website’s content or page ranking is to that phrase. This is why building a website with relevant and targeted content to drive SEO results is crucial to attracting the right consumers. Although these factors are important to SEO results, there are literally thousands of factors that the search engines use to determine each keyword’s rankings, and qualified SEO companies know how to affect those results efficiently and cost effectively.

Think of SEO as the foundation to an online marketing strategy. You can’t build a strong building unless you have a solid foundation. Creating this solid foundation with SEO will contribute to a website’s short-term and long-term success online. Implementing quality SEO allows a website to be found organically (for free) on search engines such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing, which is essential since organic search results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than paid search results. 

Few people have the knowledge and time to execute and maintain an effective SEO program on their own. It requires hiring a specialist who knows the technical aspects of optimizing a website for search engines and who can keep up with the constant changes. It is also important to hire someone who understands the products or services being offered. It can take months to see initial results, but those efforts, if executed properly, will be relatively long lasting, at least until the search engine changes or competitors overtake those initial SEO efforts. This is why it is important to have an ongoing SEO strategy in place.

PPC, or pay-per-click, is inclusive of all the programs that can be utilized to list website pages in ad sections of search engines, and a fee is paid for each time a consumer clicks on that link. By far the most popular form of PPC is Google’s AdWords program, due to the search dominance of Google, but there are many other options, including the Yahoo! Bing Network and those offered by Yelp, Angie’s List and others. All PPC programs vary to some degree, but a closer look at Google AdWords helps in understanding the basic principles.

To see website traffic results immediately and very precisely for specific keywords only, pay-per-click advertising is the right tool. PPC via Google AdWords can get results immediately, rather than in months like SEO. In a Google AdWords PPC campaign, the business pays Google to show its ad when consumers click specific keywords. For Google AdWords, these ads can be found at the top of the search results and to the right of the organic search listings in a small ad box, setting them off as PPC. 

Although consumers click on SEO indexed links more often than on PPC links, the typical conversion rate (the rate at which consumers actually contact the business) for consumer clicks on a PPC link is typically higher than for clicks on an organic SEO link. Also, organic SEO links usually take consumers to the website homepage, whereas PPC links can be connected to landing pages with content and offers designed to appeal to consumers based on specific keywords. Businesses that are not implementing landing pages and targeted messages with their PPC campaigns are not optimizing their investment. Another benefit of pay per click advertising is that the reporting allows the business to easily see which search terms bring in traffic and the cost for each lead. 

With PPC via Google AdWords, payment is only made for the clicks the ad receives. Maximizing clicks for the desired keywords at the lowest price is essential. Each keyword has a unique cost that changes constantly based on value defined by Google, which is driven by competition for the keyword. For example, bidding $2.00 per click for “Flooring Store in Grand Junction CO” may get the top placement for that keyword in search results, while bidding the same amount for “Flooring Store in Phoenix AZ” will likely not even get a business ranked on the top page. 

Once keywords are defined and bids are placed, the business can then set a realistic budget based on its goals and its market, and it can define total spend monthly and even daily. Based on results, keywords and bids can be adjusted to maximize the goals within the budget. Keep in mind that with PPC, once a business stops paying for clicks, the traffic will also stop immediately.

At the end of the day, if a business doesn’t measure its results for either SEO or PPC, it won’t have the information it needs to make actionable business and marketing decisions. It’s important to track campaigns and analyze their performance in order to make adjustments in bidding, keywords and ad copy, and to decide how to spend more marketing dollars. 

Each flooring business is unique; I have never met two that are the same in all aspects. And each business needs to determine what its short- and long-term goals are, and what its budget for online advertising is. Once these parameters are defined, and armed with an understanding of how it all works, a business can properly implement an SEO and PPC program to effectivly drive leads to its store.

Copyright 2015 Floor Focus