There are few websites online today that don’t crave more attention from search engines, more views and purchases from customers, and more inbound links from other sites. However, getting to the point of online rock stardom takes more than simply wishing your way to the top. It often takes a ton of work optimizing pages, a few dollars spent on advertising, and an ounce of good luck to seal the deal. Two very different approaches – Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO), have been known to produce favorable results in increasing a website’s visibility, but the key to success online is in understanding and taking advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of both.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of following best practices in order to gain better position in a search engine for one or more keywords or phrases. With SEO, visitors use a search engine to find sites that are relevant to the keywords and phases they provide. The most common search engines used today (Yahoo!, Google and MSN) are relied on by over 90% of web users to find what they are looking for online, but most only view the top 30 results produced by search engines. These factors make getting to the top of a search engine’s results for specific keywords an absolute online necessity for websites.
Search Engine Optimization has several advantages which make it appealing to those looking to be online for the long run. Its most noted advantage is that, when using sound practices, its results are realized for the long term. Another major advantage of organic SEO comes in its cost, which ranges from free to minimal as the only costs incurred, if any, are those paid to make website changes. SEO methods that focus its keywords on the products, service and information provided by the website also have a better chance of delivering repeat visitors and customers that are ready to act.
Organic search engine optimization has two clear disadvantages, which are always outweighed by the advantages SEO methods provide. The first disadvantage is that SEO takes time – time in constructing pages to appeal to search engines; time for the search engines to find, index and “trust” the pages; and time to realize the positive ROI between customers and efforts spent. This disadvantage is usually minimal to those looking to be online for the long term. The final disadvantage with organic search engine optimization is that it does not deliver guarantees, especially for websites with lots of competition online. Keeping in mind that each website has the opportunity to “optimize” their pages as well should put the chances of success through SEO in perspective.
Both new websites and those finding it difficult to get their fair shake in the top of the search engines, may opt for Pay-Per-Click advertising to increase their visibility online. In short, Pay-Per-Click advertising allows you to select, bid, and pay for keywords that are relevant to your website’s offerings. In exchange, the Pay-Per-Click program offers a website guaranteed visibility when a searcher enters in the chosen keyword and when the searcher is on a website that is related to the keyword.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising guarantees that websites are put in the eyes of their chosen target audiences. When properly managed, the pay-per-click advertising costs can often times be recouped through the increase in sales that are driven to the website. In addition, the flexibility in keyword selection, the precise management of campaigns, the instant feedback provided, and the ability to budget spending make PPC appealing to most companies that do not appear in top search results.
There are several disadvantages to pay-per-click advertising which can be reduced or even eliminated with proactive PPC campaign management. One major disadvantage results from the bidding nature of PPC programs, which tend to list the highest bidder for a keyword ahead of lower bidders. This “bidding war” forces the lower bidder to increase their bid in order to regain position, and can squeeze out companies with smaller marketing budgets. Another disadvantage to PPC advertising comes in the improper selection of keywords which results in bidders paying for visitors that are simply “window shopping”, and have no intention of buying products. The final disadvantage to PPC advertising is the most obvious and the most painful – once the payments for keywords stop, so does the website’s visibility.
Which Method Is Best?
Websites with little or no visibility can easily change their circumstances by using Pay-Per-Click advertising to instantly gain web presence. And although the guaranteed visibility comes at a cost, those just starting out on the web can often time recoup their expenses through the building of repeat customers, word of mouth referrals and increased traffic flow. Also, keep in mind that paying to be in front of visitors has major disadvantages that good SEO should eliminate over time. So, our suggestion is to always use Pay-Per-Click advertising to get into the face of web surfers in the early stages of a website’s growth, but to also implement the techniques of Search Engine Optimization which will provide the website with long-term staying power. Used in conjunction with each other, your website will realize both immediate and long-term success on the web.
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