I am pretty opinionated about SEO and PPC. I’ve been a longtime advocate of SEO and I’ve traditionally steered well away from PPC. But I’m not older and wiser and I see the writing on the wall. Search is shifting, Google is becoming a lot more greedy, and most companies cannot exist with SEO alone.
Up until this last year, I would have told you PPC is “cocaine for marketers” because money is spent in hopes of a quick high and zero long-term value is derived. I view SEO as just the opposite. There is minimal short-term value, but a huge amount of long-term benefit.
Today I openly acknowledge my ignorance on pay per click campaigns and I do so because it has become abundantly clear that many companies cannot sustain on SEO alone. This is partly because they lack the time or internal resources to support SEO efforts and partly due to the fact that Google is rapidly changing. Without someone dedicated to digital marketing, it’s very difficult for a company to keep up with these SEO changes.
I want everyone to love SEO as much as I do. However, today’s online environment doesn’t necessarily support the SEO being successful for all marketers. In 2019 I admit that SEO is simply not right for every business. Sometimes pay per click (yes PPC) might be a better option.
Is SEO Right for You?
How do you know if SEO or PPC is right for your firm? Is it possible to segment marketers into PPC or SEO? In my opinion, it boils down to a few brief, yet critical questions:
- Do you have the in house resources available to write quality content?
- Can these resources be given a roadmap to follow for creating SEO friendly content?
- Can these resources produce enough content to match that of your competition?
- Can you and will you engage in social media – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.?
- Can you dedicate resources to stay up to date with the constantly changing world of SEO?
- Do you have internal resources available to work on technical SEO and structured data?
If you answer yes to these questions, then SEO is a potential fit. If you state you lack the time and resources for content marketing and social media, then SEO is not for you. In today’s online world, you cannot achieve SEO success without content marketing, social media, and technical SEO all at the forefront of your marketing objectives.
Most companies fall down in two key areas:
- They lack internal resources to support SEO efforts.
- They haven’t found a trusted technology partner to outsource SEO services.
In 2019, you have to have internal resources or a trusted partner that can assist you with SEO efforts. You also have to have the time available to build up your SEO presence and ranking. In most cases, it takes a good six months to make progress with SEO and there are no easy short cuts to move around this timeline.
Is PPC Right for You?
If you answered no to the previous questions, then SEO is probably not going to be a fit. I’d next ask you questions to see if PPC is a plausible fit. In particular, I would ask:
- Are you on a short timeframe for driving website traffic?
- Do you have restrictions on the type of content you can produce and publish on your website?
- Do you have funds to devote each month to PPC ads?
- Are you willing to pay a firm to manage the PPC campaigns for you?
If you again answer yes to these questions, then PPC might be the best option. As much as I dislike paying for website traffic, I know it serves a segment of the market where SEO is not a good fit. There are companies that simply do not have the time or resources available to create solid content and for these situations, PPC might be the only valid option. There are also industry constraints, like healthcare and pharmaceuticals, where compliance regulation forces a broad digital marketing approach. And in these cases, PPC is the most viable option.
But What About Focusing on Social Media?
Occasionally I’ll speak with a company who is against SEO and PPC. They tell me they don’t have time to write content and don’t want to spend money on advertising. After hearing this I’ll ask them how they expect to bring in traffic and the usual response is social media.
They expect to focus all their efforts on Facebook (for example) and this will drive traffic. My next questions are always about their social media plan and what type of “things” they plan on sharing via Facebook. Guess what happens – silence. Dead, long, and painful silence.
Social media works great for driving web traffic and overall branding, but you have to have something of value to share. While you can provide information from other websites or sources, that won’t drive a large amount of traffic to your own website.
Social media should be part of a larger digital marketing program. It cannot be the entire program.
Blending SEO and PPC
The older and wiser me now believes there are many instances where you can utilize a combination of PPC and SEO.
For startup companies or those new to digital marketing, a blend of PPC and SEO might be the best option. SEO takes time and you don’t land on page one of Google overnight. For SEO to work you need to have a strategic, long-term plan in place that is executed over time. SEO requires you to nurture your website. You need to build your authority and credibility with the search engines. At the initial stages of your SEO plan, PPC may be a great short-term option for search traffic while you work on long-term SEO objectives.
Another situation is when you compete in an environment where higher volume keywords are just outside your reach. In this situation, you could devote PPC funding to higher volume and more competitive keywords, and use SEO to target long-tail keywords that are easier to rank with on search.
Another benefit is using your PPC campaigns to help you discover the best phrases that convert into revenue. You’ll quickly know what terms convert into leads and what leads start to generate revenue. Once you have this valuable information, you can start to decide which phrases to leave with PPC and which ones to refocus on SEO.
Broad-based PPC campaigns also allow you to view long-tail search terms that you can target with content marketing and SEO. You’ll see what real humans type into the search box via the broad PPC campaigns and you can use this to write long-form content that can be optimized for on-page SEO.
Blending SEO and PPC can produce a double win if the situation allows for it.
The thing to remember is that you cannot build a website and just wait for traffic to come. You’ll be waiting forever because the internet is completely filled with website upon website all waiting for visitors.
You need to have some sort of digital marketing plan to bring traffic to your website. Be it pay per click, search engine optimization, or social media – a plan is needed. Decide on core marketing objectives and create a plan designed around those goals. Then proceed forward in executing your plan and tracking your results.
Find balance in your digital marketing efforts and focus your plan not on what you’ve read or overheard, but on what is right for your specific organizations.