Knowing how and when to deploy two distinct, but very powerful, traffic-generating tactics, is a tried and tested recipe for business results. When you’re weighing up the benefits of Google Ads (also known as Pay Per Click or PPC) versus Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it can come down to instant gratification vs. sustained, long-term results.
In reality, neither option is “right” – the best choice for any business will depend on its market, goals, timelines and a host of other factors. The key though is to know your options and the likely outcomes and invest accordingly.
Starving for sales?
PPC is when you pay for an ad on the Google search results page so that when users google a relevant keyword, the ad comes up at the top or bottom of that page. The benefits are that ads can go live pretty much immediately and, if you have a reasonably good website (and all the other critical boxes ticked), the traffic you generate can be turned into leads in next to no time.
If you’re starving for sales this may well be a better way to go, rather than waiting for SEO to work. However, be aware that the minute you stop paying for ads, the leads will stop rolling in.
Optimising your website
SEO, on the other hand, is about optimising your website so that Google considers it a high-value option for any user searching for a particular keyword. The downside is that, yes, it’s a long-term investment and it will only work if you commit to playing the Google game.
Optimising a website for SEO involves carrying out research into what people are searching for online, then tailoring your website so that it becomes the go-to for those keywords. It often requires a host of tweaks and additions to the technical aspects, structure, content, images and pages of the site as well as generating off-site backlinks. This all takes substantial time and resources and, even then, there can be a wait as Google picks up on the changes and considers whether or not to improve your rankings.
Mix paid ads and SEO
In an ideal world, I can tell you that a mix of paid ads and SEO is likely to be a beautiful blend for your business. It’ll get you off the starting blocks, bringing in some immediate sales, while you set the scene for long-term success through a sustainable, organic solution.
Then, over the long term, by analysing your traffic, you can start to adjust your investment. As SEO brings in more sales, you can step down your ads investment and enjoy the benefits of a search engine optimised website without PPC costs.
For SEO, focus your efforts on the most important pages of your site. For service businesses that’s usually homepage and services pages – make sure you have a separate page for each of the services you offer. For e-commerce, its homepage and collections page – think about which categories and products are most profitable for your business, bring in the most revenue or which you have exclusive access to, and focus on improving those pages.
If you’re on a budget and can’t afford to outsource an entire SEO campaign, I recommend outsourcing at least keyword research and mapping so that you know what you’re optimising each page for.
It can be hard to pass up on the option of the “quick wins” promised by paid ads, but I’d encourage you to make SEO your friend. It takes time to nurture, but with patience, it’s the best option for solid, low-maintenance results.