Have you ever asked yourself whether you should take the plunge and optimize your website, or would you be better off simply utilizing Pay Per Click or other paid advertising techniques?
Even for us, as a search engine optimization company, that is a tough question for us to answer without first examining their individual company’s goals and their unique situations. We have our own opinions, but they are not necessarily correct for each and every company. Before coming to a final conclusion we would need to get answers to questions such as what are the ROI objectives, what is the budget and even what is the company philosophy. Once we get these answers, as well as a few more based on monetary and marketing factors only then can we determined whether one, or perhaps a combination of both will give the best results for that specific client.
In order to avoid disappointment your expectations need to be set at a reasonable level, and having the answers to all of the above will help to set those expectations.
Whether you are employing a search engine optimization company to do this work for you, or if you plan on doing the work yourself, this article will act as some baseline knowledge for you to build upon.
The first thing you should know is the difference between Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. A lot of people confuse these terms but they are different and should not be confused.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is what you do to get high organic rankings on the search engines. Ideally you would like your website to appear on top of the first page of search engines such as Google and Yahoo any time someone types in one of your selected key phrases. However without employing good ‘White Hat’ search SEO techniques that goal is unlikely to happen.
Organic listings (which are a direct result of your search engine optimization efforts) are seen by the public as being more unbiased than the paid for sponsored listings. Therefore immediately the trust factor is increased. One study showed only 14% of searchers stated that they trust paid listings, and 29% found them to be ‘annoying’. As mentioned, one benefit of good search engine optimization is that the results are usually lasting and once you get good organic rankings, even if you stopped and did nothing else there is a good chance that your site will remain visible on the Internet for years to come. I am not saying they will remain on page one of the major search engines results pages, because the likelihood is that they won’t keep their current ranking if you suddenly stop what you are doing, but they will show up somewhere in the results pages. The reality is though, that initially search engine optimization (unless you are able to do it yourself) can be just as costly, or even more expensive than PPC or paid advertising. If you choose the wrong search engine optimization company to work with then it could be tantamount to throwing your money down the drain. No doubt you have seen some companies ‘GUARANTEEING’ a number 1 ranking on page 1 of Google. If you get these types of offers in your in-box then my advice is to run a mile. Google is an independent company which doesn’t do deals with search engine optimization companies to allow them to guarantee a number 1 ranking for any particular key phrase.The only way to acheive that all important number one on page one ranking on Google or any other search engine is to ensure you follow the guidelines for those specific search engines that you are targeting, and to continue working on your site to ensure others don’t overtake your site on the rankings list. If you do employ a search engine optimization company to do this work for you, ensure that they do both on-page and off-page optimization. Ensuring that your meta-tags are correctly inserted is not going to be enough, on its own, to move your site up the rankings list so it is in a prominent position so that it can be found.
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING
Search Engine Marketing really encompasses everything that you do in order to promote your website on the search engines. When done well it will not only increase your traffic, but in the case of businesses it will hopefully increase profits. Search Engine Marketing actually includes Search Engine Optimization as a sub-set. So when people talk about Search Engine Optimization they are talkig about a part of Search Engine Marketing rather than the subject as a whole. Other aspects of search engine marketing include:
– Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
This is the act of setting up short text advertisements (usually) on major search engines or social network sites. You then link these ads to your chosen set of keywords and key phrases and then bid a maximum amount that you would be willing to pay the host site each time your ad is clicked. The position that your ad appears on the page when the chosen keyword is typed in depends on how many other companies that you are competing against for that specific word or phrase and where your maximum bid is in relation to their bids. It is really important that you carefully monitor how you are using this type of service to ensure that you are getting a good return on yourinvestment.
– Paid Directory Inclusion
Rather than waiting a long period of time for your website to naturally appear in certain directories, you can, on occasion, pay for your site to be included immediately. This is known as Paid Directory Inclusion. Certain directories will only include your website if you agree to pay them. Others offer it as an option to speed up the process for your inclusion.
Paid directory inclusion should only be considered if you feel the directory will yield good results e.g. if it is a specialist directory targeted at your niche target base.
– Paid Advertising
Some websites give you the opportunity to place ads on their pages where you pay for the ads based on how often they are shown on their pages. Unlike Pay Per Click advertising, with this method you have to pay regardless of whether or not your ad is clicked once it has been shown on the web page. You really need to have some form of measuring tool on your site to see how many referrals these sites are sending you, otherwise you could spending a lot of money with no ROI.
So with the exception of Search Engine Optimization these other aspects of Search Engine Marketing can fulfill your immediate needs when it comes to making your website visible to others searching the Internet.
When done correctly these three techniques could yield immediate results that turn into increased traffic, and ultimately more profit for your business. So if you do have the budget for Search Engine Marketing then this could be a good choice to satisfy your immediate needs.
Having said that though I wouldn’t suggest any kind of paid search engine marketing efforts without having a search engine optimization program running in tandem.
Without running a search engine optimization campaign you really are at the mercy of how long your budget will allow you to continue paying for the paid ads and PPC campaigns. Once the budget runs out, or you decide you don’t want to pay anymore then your search engine visibility is back to the point you where it was before you started all of this search engine marketing.
Studies have also shown that only 30% of search engine users click on the paid or sponsored listings, leaving an overwhelming 70% who are clicking the organic listings. Even at 30% you would still be competing with the other ads that show up at the same time as yours.
If you are getting 3% of those people who search your key words clicking on your paid ad then you are doing really well. So if you do take this route make sure that you have a well written and appealing ad to entice prospective customers to choose yours above the others.
Okay, so now your search engine marketing campaign is underway. What next? You certainly need to be monitoring and measuring. Adding a analytics system like Google Analytics will allow you to measure important information such as how many more visitors you are getting now your campaign is running. Also you need to know where your visitors are being referred from. If they are not coming from the directories that you are paying each month for your paid ads, then you may wish to consider dropping those directories and considering others. Regardless, without measurement you don’t know what you are doing really well, or really badly.
I wish you the best of luck and all the hits your website desires!
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