If you’re looking to drive more traffic to your website, then you’ve probably heard of the terms “pay per click advertising” and “search engine optimization” or “SEO.” But what’s the difference? And how does pay per click advertising (or PPC advertising) differ from search engine marketing or paid search?
Well, search engine marketing and paid search are really just euphemisms for pay per click advertising, which is also known as PPC advertising, or Google advertising because the majority of pay per click advertising runs on the Google search network, Google content network, and Google display network.
When you hear “pay per click advertising,” think advertising. The listings generated from pay per click advertising are paid for, and they appear in the “sponsored links” sections at the very top and far right-hand side of search results pages. They can also appear on other websites that “lease” space to Google and other search engines to display advertising.
The words “pay per click” in the term pay per click advertising also tell us something. With pay per click advertising, the website owner pays a specific amount each time a user clicks on their ad. In other words, they pay per click, hence the name “pay per click advertising.”
Pay per click advertising can be useful for advertisers who require highly-predictable marketing budgets. That’s because pay per click advertisers control precisely how much they’re willing to spend on their pay per click advertising. In fact, you can set a daily budget to ensure you never spend more than your company can afford.
Something else to consider about pay per click advertising is that each time an ad appears and a user doesn’t click on it, there’s no cost. Therefore, a pay per click advertising listing can appear thousands of times, be seen by thousands of internet users, and as long as no one clicks on it, the advertiser doesn’t have to pay.
Of course, the goal of pay per click advertising is for users to click on ads, but it’s helpful to know pay per click advertising can increase visibility even when users aren’t clicking. This is especially useful when pay per click advertisers use banner ads, which are graphically-designed display ads that serve to internet users based on their search behavior.
By comparison to pay per click advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) is not advertising at all. Unlike pay per click advertising, SEO relies on your website’s content, programming, and back-links to increase the likelihood your listing will appear among the top search results. But just because search engine optimization is not advertising, don’t think SEO is free. In fact, an SEO program can cost as much or more than pay per click advertising. That’s because effective SEO requires hiring an expert to modify your website’s content and coding. In addition, effective SEO programs require generating content and disseminating that content across the internet — always with links back to your website. And all of this takes time and money.
On a more positive note, sophisticated internet users may be more likely to click on organic search results than on listings generated by pay per click adveritising. The organic search results are listed below pay per click advertising results, and some internet users perceive these listings as more credible than pay per click advertising results.
Bottom line, both pay per click advertising and SEO are valuable and both should be part of your online marketing program. So if you want to increase visibility and traffic, make sure to set an adequate budget for pay per click advertising and SEO.
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