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SEO or PPC; Which One Should You Use?

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SEO or PPC; Which One Should You UseBoth SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click) are widely used by businesses to rank highly in search engines. However, the question is always raised; SEO or PPC; which one should you use?

SEO is a long-term investment that over time aims to get you to the top of the results in search engines. This takes time and requires a lot of work to get ranking which is still not a guarantee. There are many ranking factors, all of which have more of an affect than others. For a set price you can hire an SEO agency to work on your site to push and get high rankings for a broad range of services for a variety of locations. This can also be done internally through hiring an SEO specialist.

PPC is very different to SEO. It still places you at the top of the results in Google if you are paying enough for it. Instead of paying out a certain amount of money per month, you will be spending money every time someone clicks on one of your ads. Setting up your PPC campaign is straightforward and you can specify what kind of keywords you would like to target. This does mean that you are limited to those keywords or keyword variations unless if you pay more for a broader reach.

Both have their benefits, but they also have negatives. We will be covering more on what SEO and PPC is and how it works and will then give a verdict as to what one you should use.

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation in full, is a series of methods of how you can update your website to rank higher on Google or other search engines. These include adding content, creating additional pages, checking to see if your site is responsive and mobile friendly and there is so much more. All these areas will greatly aid in getting your site higher rankings, but with SEO there is never a guarantee that it will work.

SEO companies are the perfect choice when you don’t have an internal specialist or have the time to do it yourself. Your website is your online image. Almost like a shopfront, if people find you and don’t like the look of your website, they will back off. Having an SEO specialist look through your site means that they can identify what issues your site has. All issues are pointed out and then fixed. SEO isn’t always about getting your site ranking. It might get your site to the top of a search engine, but if your website is putting people off from making contact, you might as well not be there.

Search Engine Optimisation works on getting your site ranking and improving the conversions through your website. Not everything can be done by an SEO specialist however. They might identify that your website is static or quite old. A web designer will be needed so your site can be updated to a responsive and mobile friendly version. This, especially now-a-days, is a very important ranking factor.

SEO Thought Cloud

What are the ranking factors and what determines where sites rank?

There are a variety of areas which will determine how well your site ranks. Google, being the most commonly used search engine, uses Rank Brain to help determine where a site will rank. When looking through a website, Google will be looking at different aspects to see where your site should rank. These include the content, any inbound and outbound links, page speed and history.

Content

Being most what you will see on a web page, the content is highly important and a key ranking factor. This doesn’t necessary only mean text either. Everything on the website is important and will be included when determining your rankings. The majority of a websites content is made of text and images. Starting with the text, it needs to be relevant, helpful and informative; not keyword stuffed or fluff to try and pad the page out. Relevant and informative text will make the page rank higher due to the quality content.

The content also includes images or other forms of media. These still need to be relevant and have the right tags. An image needs to represent the page it is on as they are often what grabs the attention of the viewer first. When the viewer looks at the image, they need to be able to tell what it is you do straight away. Imagine you are looking for a builder, but you see an image of a kitten on the home page. It would be very confusing wouldn't it? This will be the same for your potential customers and it will likely put them off.

All content needs to be relevant and have the right keywords without stuffing. Making the content clear, concise and relevant is what’s favoured by search engines.

Page Speed

Page speed is very important for any website. It is the factor which can determine if someone will look at your site or leave immediately. A user will stay on the site for a certain period of time before leaving. If you haven’t caught their attention in this time, it is a lost conversion. A long loading site is one way to cause people to leave before being able to capture their attention. Un-optimised images, large amounts of JavaScript and render-blocking CSS and JavaScript in above-the-fold content are just a few ways in which the site can be slowed.

Any methods to reduce the page speed should be used to give users the best experience possible. Not only does the user experience greatly improve, Google will favour your fast loading site over others that are much slower. If your website is slow on a desktop, put that onto a mobile phone. With more people completing searches on a mobile phone than desktops, it means that if your site is slow loading, it will highly likely cause people to bounce people off your site. There are many tools available to test your website for page speed. One is called PageSpeed Insights which is very easy to use and gives you all the information you will need.

Page Speed

Responsive & Mobile Friendly

As mentioned already, more people are searching on mobile phones. This means that your website needs to be easy to use and navigate on a mobile device. This means going responsive. A responsive and mobile friendly website means that your site will alter its appearance to fit on a mobile screen; no matter the phone or screen size. A responsive website is what should come as standard from any website design agency and should be what you are looking for.

Responsive websites will enable easy navigation through the site and a better overall experience. This is greatly preferred over a static website which doesn’t change. Old websites would require the user to have to zoom in and scroll across the website to be able to view anything. This makes navigating to other pages on the site much harder and can ruin the user experience. Changing It so that users are easily able to change page and view the content ensures they are getting the best experience possible.

For SEO, a responsive website is highly important. It will soon be even more important once the mobile-first indexing update is set live. User experience is a large ranking factor which is why having a responsive website can greatly aid in your rankings. If you currently have an old static site, you will want to start thinking about getting an upgrade before it is too late.

History

This one is a lot rarer for small businesses and is impossible for new businesses. Having a history can be both good and bad depending on if your domain has been used maliciously or not. If you are buying a domain, you need to be certain that it has not been used for any malicious sites in the past. Only buy domains from trusted traders and keep possession of any domains you own to stop the chances of someone else buying them. If you follow this and have a website for many years, you will earn a history. A good history is valued by Google and other search engines.

If the domain you use has been used for anything malicious in the past, it can cause your site to suffer because of it. A history isn’t as hard to build up as it is to remove. Trying to remove a bad history is much harder and depending on what the domain was used for, might not be able to be recovered.

Structure

Like with content, page structure is a key ranking factor. Having content on a website is all good, but if it isn’t structured, you are going to make the page look cluttered and boring. Adding in headers, titles, paragraphs and bullet point lists are just some ways to add structure to a page. Removing these and having everything altogether will immediately put potential customers off. A page should have multiple headings, starting from a H1. An example of a page structure is:

  • H1
  • Leading Paragraph
  • Text
    • H2
    • Text
    • H2
    • Text
      • H3
      • Text
        • H4
        • Text
    • H2
    • Text

Using this ensures that the text is separated into sections and the benefits of the business can be displayed immediately. A heading should always try and tempt someone into staying on the website and sell the benefits of your business. Doing so will keep people interested and quite possibly push them to make an enquiry. Using a page structure will also enable the search engines to quickly and easily crawl the website. This can further improve your SEO and search engine rankings.

Links

Links are very hard to obtain at times, but are highly important and greatly aid in improving rankings. A link from a website can be a great way to show Google that you are highly authoritive and a good business. However, this does not mean that any link will work. We are far from the days where link farms were a viable option. Links must come from authoritive and well respected websites. Getting links from big names (Amazon, Argos or other large companies) or well-known suppliers are examples of where links would be exceptionally helpful for the website.

High Quality Links

Website owners would often look for link farms when they used to be relevant and helpful. Thousands of links would be pointed to your site which would be greatly favoured by Google. However, those days are over and Google are highly likely to penalise your site for it. Links need to come from viable, relevant and authoritative sources. Links from directories or small sites that have relevance to your industry are still great. If a lot of these are obtained, they will greatly aid your site rank.

Why is it a good idea to take up SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is something every business owner should look at taking up if they want to improve the rankings of their site without paying out loads of money for a PPC campaign. Usually, SEO work will be performed on the site every month if done by an external agency. If you have an internal SEO specialist however, they can work on the site weekly to ensure errors are fixed quickly and the site is getting updated often.

SEO gives businesses the chance to target specific keywords and improve their rankings for them. SEO does take time, but once you get towards the top, you can keep working on keeping you there. If your site is responsive, has relevant content that is in a good structure, you are already on your way to improving your sites rankings. If you have not done so already, we would highly suggest you consider taking up SEO to ensure your website is up to par; especially with more Google updates coming out that could cause your site to drop.

What is PPC?

PPC, which stands for Pay Per Click in full, is a method of placing an ad above or below the organic results which when clicked on, will cost you a certain amount of money. The amount of money that is paid for each click is dependent on the keyword or key phrase that is being targeted. If it is a keyword with high competition, the price will be much higher compared to a keyword with low competition.

The ads appear above or below the organic results with a small green box next to them that reads ad. These will stay here unless if another company pays more for each click. This would place them above you, but will mean they pay more every time their ad is clicked. Owning an ad is exceptionally helpful if you have the budget to be able to pay for it; especially if you are in a highly competitive market. PPC has become even more useful with Googles updates to their mobile extensions. With an option to quickly call the company via a phone extension and a variety of other extensions getting updates; owning an ad is a quick and easy way to grab potential customers.

This issue with using PPC is that competitors or the public could click on the ad, charging you the money and then back off (if the user immediately bounces off the site, Google have it in place that this should not cost you anything). Running a PPC campaign can be rather expensive and unless you have the budget for it; your campaign will fail or not work as effectively. This does also require management to ensure that there is still money available for the ads to run and for when any changes need to be made.

What is included in a PPC campaign?

When setting up a PPC campaign, there are a variety of options available to set it up to suit your requirements. From setting up different ad groups to target different keywords to selecting the match types to reach a broader range of people; there are a variety of options available. A PPC campaign isn’t hard to set up if you know what you are doing. If you are unsure about what to do, hire an agency or internal specialist that does.

Multiple Keyword Selection

One of the benefits to setting up a PPC campaign is the range of keywords you can target. Like SEO, you select what keywords you want to target, set them up in AdWords and then get your ads running. Instead of then waiting months to get your site ranking, you will appear at the top of the results if you are paying the right amount. The variety of keywords means that your site can be found for a variety of different searches, reaching many more potential customers. This does however mean that more people will find your ad, meaning that more people will be likely to click on it; costing you more money.

Ad Groups

Ad groups are what enable you to group together keywords and phrases and manage them separately. This is good when testing different match types or are targeting a series of different keywords. The groups can then be switched on and off at will and have a variety of options to customise the campaign. This includes changing the times of day or week that the ads will appear. You get complete control over your ads so you can tailor them to your specifications or requirements.

Match Types

Match types are what allow you to determine when one of your ads will appear from a search. There are 5 different match types which change up the way your ads work. Some cause your ads to only appear if the exact keyword is used whereas others give some leeway in the terms being used. Using different match types are what determine how much you are looking at spending on your ads.

Broad Match

Broad match is what most businesses use when setting up their PPC campaigns. It is selected by default, but can be changed to one of the other match types. The reason that this is so common is because of the leeway it gives you. Whereas other match types require the exact phrase to be used in searches for your ad to appear, this allows for misspellings, synonyms, related searches and any other relevant variations. An example would be for if you search ‘web design Kent’. Supersonic Playground has an ad running which appears at the top. Then if you search for ‘wbe design Kent’, they are still in the top ads.

Modified Broad Match

This is a modified version of the broad match type. This allows for close variations of the keywords to be used, but not synonyms. The keywords can then be used in any order to bring up the ad. As shown in the example on Googles Support page on match types, a set of keywords were selected (that being women’s and hats) and a search for ‘hats for women’ would still bring up the ad. The keywords are still included or at least a close variation of them is included for the ad to come up.

Phrase Match

Phrase match requires the full keyword to be used within the search without any additions or variations. This means that if the keyword was ‘web design’ this couldn’t be changed to ‘website design’. The only thing using phase match allows is for words to be added before or after the main phrase. Using ‘web design’ as the example again, the search ‘web design company’ would still work as it includes the main keyword within the search. However, using this limits the chances of people seeing the ad if they spell something incorrectly and shortens the amount of keyword variations possible. Limiting the number of times the ad appears will save you money as it will not appear in search results as much as it would when using other match types.

Exact Match

An exact match would mean that the search being completed must be exactly or a close variation of the keyword being targeted for the ad to appear. The ad will appear if the words are reordered as well, but this is only if it doesn’t change its meaning. Function words are also able to be added or removed, depending on the keyword used and the ad will still appear. The function words however, cannot impact the intent of the search.

Negative Match

The last match type is negative match which is one of the most expensive options and rarely used types. This is because this will cause your ads to appear for searches without the term specified. This means each click will come at a high price, but will reach more people.

Why should you set up a PPC campaign?

A PPC campaign is great for all businesses, if they have the budget for it. It can cost a lot if you are in a competitive market, but if your website is enticing enough; it will cause visitors to make contact or send through an enquiry. The PPC campaign itself won’t be the factor that will get people to contact you unless if they directly use the mobile calling extension. Once they land on your site, it needs to push them to make contact or send through an enquiry.

Using PPC places you at the top of the results where most people will be able to easily see you. A quick and easy way for hundreds to thousands of people to see your site is very tempting and can easily pay for itself if the enquiries are coming in. This does require testing though as there are different things you can change to change when the ads appear, how long they appear for, the extensions you want to show and so much more.

So, what one should you use; SEO or PPC?

The simple answer is both. If you can afford to pay for PPC and SEO, you can work on getting your site ranking organically for a wider variety of searches while still also captivating on potential customers that find your site through your ads.

That is the question though, can you afford it? Hiring an SEO agency or employing an internal SEO specialist will require monthly payments for the work to be completed. In addition, this comes with no guarantee that it will work and will take time for results to start appearing. PPC is different as it is almost instant. However, this does usually end up costing businesses more depending on what and how many keywords they are targeting. If you can afford them, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t use both.

Looking for an SEO agency or a company to manage your PPC campaign; get in contact with us today.

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