SEO stands for SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION and is a set of practices for your website that help it rank higher in search results. PPC stands for PAY PER CLICK and it’s the most common form of advertisement online. Both are great sources of traffic if done properly.
SEO is for the long run
Optimizing a website for search engines takes time. It is required a lot of patience and a lot of work. SEO is divided in two large categories: on-page and off-page and they both are equally important for the success of the campaign.
On-page SEO consists of techniques that a website owner can apply to improve the quality of the web page. The most important aspect of the on-page SEO is the quality of the content, followed by the user experience and load speed and a lot of other smaller factors that add up.
The off-page SEO on the other hand consists of techniques that, as the name suggests, are not done on the page. Most know and probably most important of them is the backlinks building. To build quality backlinks, a web page has to contain quality content and to be objective. Many website owners fall for practices like link exchange or buying links, but these are considered black hat techniques and even if successful on short term, might cause more harm for the long run.
We say SEO is for the long run, because for a new website, that’s on a moderately competitive niche, it takes from a few weeks, even up to a year for the website to rise to the first results page for the desired keywords. All this time there is work to be done on the website to constantly maintain, improve and optimize its content and structure.
PPC has immediate but short term effects
Paying per click means that you pay between a few cents to a few dollars for every visitor you bring to your website. The prices depends only on the competition as they are set by bidding for the best spot at the best time.
While paying for every visitor might seem counter intuitive and expensive, it has the benefit of almost instant traffic. If you open an online store you can’t wait a year for the traffic to build up, you need to rotate the inventory now. Here’s where PPC is king. You create an ad, you run it for as long as you have the product for sale and when you’re done selling it you also stop paying for traffic.
PPC is a great way to start building traffic to your website until your SEO kicks in and starts sending constant traffic.
SEO and the competition
There is a joke among internet marketers that the best place to hide a body is the second results page of Google. More than half of the visits from Google are going to the websites that are in the top 5 positions and less than 5% of the visitors click on links on the second page or lower.
You can see how the competition becomes a problem, especially since “DUI attorney New York” for example brings up hundreds of results, only 5-10 of them will receive traffic from Google. In a situation like this, you have a few options to choose and mix from. First would be to invest heavily in SEO. Invest money to buy quality content from leading copywriters, invest money to buy links from reputable sources and most of all invest time to tweak and improve the website until it ranks for a top position.
Another solution is to invest in PPC and appear above the top ranking websites, but as mentioned earlier in this article, that is expensive and usually unsustainable on the long run, especially on a high competition niche, where the price per click is also high. But PPC in this case can be used to boost the traffic while working on SEO.
Another solution, not used by many marketers, is to target long tail keywords. If we take the example from above, instead of competing with more than 23 million results for “DUI attorney New York” we can target a search query like “free consultation DUI attorney Manhattan”. This query only has around 5 million results. This means that the competition is much lower, but so are the leads. The advantage of this strategy is that you can focus your energy on many long tail keywords and rank them in top positions instead of focusing on only one short and highly competitive keyword. This strategy is useful for new websites that are not strong enough yet to rank on highly competitive keywords and also for well established websites to cover a larger portion of the market.