By far the largest sources of website visitors are paid online advertising and organic searches. Organic visitors arrive on your website through search engine queries. They type in a phrase or question – known as a keyword – and select your website from the results displayed by Google. Paid traffic originates in exactly the same way, but instead of clicking one of the 10 ‘organic’ links on the (usually first) results page, they click on one of the paid adverts to the top or right of the search results, arriving on a landing page. Google claimed more than one trillion individual web searches in 2016, so it is clear that both organic and paid approaches to search marketing offer the lure of impressive results.
The two strategic options for businesses looking to increase web traffic are therefore to invest in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to increase organic visits, or Google AdWords, to increase hits from paid adverts.
Both start from the same point (keyword searches) and have the same goal (increased web traffic), but which of the two options gives better value for small businesses?
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine queries account for a significant percentage of web visits. Statistics vary widely, but it is something between 40% and 80% of web visitors – a lot of people no matter how you look at it. This explains the importance of SEO for improving your web traffic. Search Engine Optimisation isn’t a form of advertising. Rather it is a means of optimising your website and online content so that Google takes notice and ranks you for important keywords and phrases.
‘Google ranking’ isn’t an absolute value. You rank differently for different keywords and this changes over time depending on your actions, and those of your competitors. No one outside of Google knows exactly how Google’s algorithms work, so some of SEO is a matter of trial and error. However, there are about nine factors that marketing experts agree are influential in determining how Google ranks a website.
Applying these to online content as part of a long-term strategy will gradually increase the prominence of your website in relevant search results and improve your web traffic. Taking this approach has both advantages and disadvantages over using paid advertising. Learn more about Search Engine Optimisation with these great articles:
- SEO tactics can result in a high Google search rank for important keywords, generating a significant volume of traffic.
- There is no cost per click from organic traffic.
- You don’t have to specify every keyword for SEO. Google will automatically target high traffic keywords featured in your content. Google’s search AI is now pretty smart, so will determine keyword rankings based on the context of your content, and not simply the exact placement of words.
- An SEO strategy allows you to optimise the quality of links coming into your business from external sources.
- SEO is a long-term strategy. It can take several months of sustained effort before you start seeing results.
- Organic search rankings are vulnerable to sudden change due to the action of competitors or to Google updating its search algorithm, which happened several times a year. You may lose rank if Google decides that a competitor’s content is more relevant to the keyword than your own. It is also not uncommon to lose several places, or even drop from the front page altogether, following a significant algorithm update.
- SEO always involves a degree of guesswork, as Google are secretive about their search criteria. There is no way of saying ‘do this and do that and you will definitely get this’, as you can, more or less, with PPC.
- An SEO strategy requires constant attention. A period of inactivity is likely to see your rankings drop.
Google AdWords Pay Per Click Advertising
Google AdWords is an advertising service provided by Google to allow users to rank in their search results for keywords and phrases. On setting up an AdWords account you can bid for keywords, which are allocated a Cost Per Click based on their popularity and relevance. You can control your budget by setting spending caps and reduce your campaign costs by monitoring the quality of your landing pages and advert content.
Google AdWords is fast, efficient and cost-effective if it is managed correctly. Many businesses prefer it to SEO as it gives faster and more predictable results. Learn more about Google AdWords with these articles:
- Using Google AdWords can give you an immediate increase in search traffic, making it a useful tactic for new businesses and product launches.
- It is easier to link increases in lead generation and profits directly back to a Google advert, allowing you to fine-tune your campaign.
- AdWords guarantees a search presence for your chosen keywords, although the cost and position will depend on the quality of your advert.
- AdWords gives you tremendous flexibility to target keyword variants within the same campaign, and to narrow your searches by using negative keywords.
- AdWords allows you to quickly respond to changing market trends.
- There is a cost involved for each click through an AdWords link. Optimising your Cost Per Click (CPC) and Click Through Rate (CTR) involves careful campaign management, which can be labour-intensive.
- Google AdWords does not require you to optimise the content on your website, blog or social media platforms. Businesses that rely on PPC to the exclusion of other methods therefore do not always make necessary changes to their website, which may be costing them conversions.
- Each advert requires a bespoke landing page for it to get the best results. This necessitates a continual update of your web presence.
- Some web users ignore Google AdWords links and go directly to organic results.
Using Both Paid & Organic Search Marketing
Google AdWords and SEO are not competing strategies, but are two approaches to the same problem. You want to direct more high quality visitors to your website: Both SEO and PPC let you do this, in different ways. As we have seen, there are strengths and weaknesses to each approach on its own, but when used together, you amplify the benefits of both.
Search engine optimisation is used to improve the long-term value of your web presence, with AdWords stepping in to bridge the gap and generate short term traffic and increased conversions. To find out more about a combined marketing strategy that includes both SEO and paid search to your best advantage, contact one of our specialists at JDR today.