If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve already heard many spiels about the importance of search engine optimization. Though it is mentioned frequently and discussed in great detail, it can be rather challenging to find a quick and simple explanation of what SEO actually is. You may be paying an SEO company right now for services you don’t understand. Let’s change that.
SEO, cut and dry, is the practice of improving and promoting websites in order to get them ranked higher on search engines and ultimately direct more traffic to the sites by doing so. It is also explained as the process of making a website more successful through improving its visibility on Internet searches.
Using many SEO aspects including the words on your pages, site structure, page load time, image optimization, and site links, the search engine bots and spiders categorize and display the websites in the order of their (just determined) relevance. Of course, this is all in reference to organic search results. Although they are the most popular, it is important to note that organic results are not the only results out there.
Indeed, there is another form of results referred to as Pay Per Click, or PPC. These sponsored results are essentially just advertisements that go to the high bidder per keyword or key phrase. Two things are up for auction here: the keyword and the position of where the ad will show up when that keyword is searched. This is more of an outbound marketing technique in that it is essentially an advertisement placed in the path of a consumer without their permission. Of course the argument could be made that the consumer typed in the keyword that triggered that ad to show up, but you can understand why it still doesn’t quite qualify as permission based marketing.
As evidenced by the name, PPC ads are paid for by the advertiser each time the link is clicked. This often leads to low upfront costs, but if the ad is successful it can get pricey in a hurry. The opposite is true for organic SEO services: it may cost significantly more upfront, but the cost shouldn’t increase much (if at all) throughout the campaign. Here is a basic list of pros and cons for both methods:
- Time – Rankings can remain long after the optimization has been completed.
- Cost – You don’t pay every time someone clicks on your listing.
- Trust/Branding – People often trust “natural” listings more than they do paid listings.
- Branding – The higher you are ranked in the natural search results the more credible people (and the search engines) perceive you to be.
- Cost – SEO requires larger upfront costs and more time than PPC to get your site listed.
- Unpredictable – Ranking can change quickly as search engine algorithms change or competition increases.
- Competition – Competition can be brutal for certain keywords. Some marketers even resort to unethical practices to ensure they are in the top position.
- Targeting – Targeting is a little trickier, especially geographical targeting, with SEO.
- Changes – Consistently obtaining top rankings will require constant monitoring, marketing, and tweaks to your site.
- Calculation – PPC is easily measured. Marketers are able to get raw numbers within seconds. Return on investment (ROI) and cost per acquisition (CPA) are easy to calculate.
- Cost – You only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
- Speed – Everything about PPC is done fairly quickly. The campaign can be up and running in less than a day.
- Control – You have total control over what the searchers see when they view your ad or click through to your site.
- Timing – You can set up your ads to only run when you want them to.
- Targeted – You can easily reach your target audience by using the proper keywords and ad copy.
- Traffic – According to research and polls, only 15% of users click on PPC ads rather than the organic search results.
- Click Fraud – There is always a risk of getting unethical clicks.
- Expense – A PPC campaign can be expensive it if isn’t monitored and/or setup correctly.
Jake Raiken is the founder/president of Revisions U, an online essay editing company as well as a content specialist at Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando, Florida digital marketing company. He is an advertising major at the University of Florida and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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