SEO or PPCThe first question we get from service companies wanting to bring in more leads via the Internet is typically: “Should I Invest in SEO or PPC?” The answer to this question, of course, isn’t cut and dry. In a perfect web-world, we recommend doing both, because they both offer great benefits in unique ways. But, if your budget forces you to make a choice between one or the other, this blog will help you distinguish the difference.

First, and Most Importantly, Know the Difference

When it comes to Internet marketing, all the acronyms can get confusing. We often encounter people talking about SEO, but using the term PPC. Or talking about social media, but meaning SEO. It’s important to know that these are all completely different marketing channels.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of your website (or a web page) in a search engine’s unpaid (aka “organic”) search results. Good SEO companies optimize your website’s content and structure, which in turn increases the number of impressions you receive when users search for your product, service, and/or content.

PPC – Pay Per Click (PPC) (also called Cost Per Click) is an Internet advertising model used to draw traffic to a website. Advertisers pay the search engine (Google, Bing, or Yahoo) to display their advertisements next to the unpaid (organic) search results.

Should I Invest in SEO?

SEO is a must for any business owner who plans to be in business for the long term (so, in other words, most business owners). The return on investment (ROI) of a well-optimized website far outweighs the advertising costs associated with running an AdWords campaign. However, SEO doesn’t provide the quick fix that PPC can, so the efforts and costs of SEO might be intimidating upfront. We recommend SEO for companies looking (and ready) for growth.

How long will SEO take?
SEO is not a quick fix for getting leads. Good SEO is a long-term growth strategy. Seeing the results will depend on the competition of the search term and authority of your current website. It is your SEO firm’s job to get your website visible to your clients, and (depending on the scope of your services) this can take a great deal of time and effort.

What does an SEO Company Do?
In the beginning, your SEO company will research and plan your SEO campaign. As they begin to implement their plan (usually within a week or two), you should start to see changes to the content on your website. SEO consists of multiple strategies (such as content development, website updates and improvements, and external signal building) that must be maintained for Google to keep your website in the high rankings. Your SEO company should also monitor your website traffic and keyword rankings for continuous improvement.

How do I Choose an SEO Company?
Any company offering SEO should be able to show analytics for organic growth they have delivered for a client; this is like a trophy to SEO providers. When you’re vetting SEO firms, be sure to ask them to see a resume of their achievements. The below image is one of our pride and joys that we like to show off. The growth you see here is for organic traffic (and doesn’t include blog and newsletter traffic) over a 2 year span. We practice safe and ethical SEO that has not been affected by Google algorithm changes.

Good SEO

Also, make sure the SEO firm understands your type of business. Service companies, for example, need different marketing strategies than a company that sells a product. SEO must be tailored to each and every individual client; there’s not one size fits all plan.

How much does SEO cost?
The cost of SEO varies depending on the services the company offers. Not all SEO companies use the same strategies, and this greatly impacts the overall cost. We have seen SEO services range from $25/mo all the way up to $10,000.

Good, ethical SEO will have a higher ROI in the long run. But, if you’re in need of new leads NOW, then PPC might be a good place to start.

Should I Invest in PPC?

PPC is a great way to get instant leads for your business. If you’re a new start-up trying to generate some work, or a seasoned company needing the generate a steady flow of business, PPC is for you. However, you must be knowledgeable about how PPC works to avoid costly mistakes.

How long will PPC take?
You can start getting work from PPC instantly. If you have the budget to keep your ad on the top of Google search results, you can almost guarantee that you’ll get leads. However, it’s up to you to convert the leads into a sell!

What does a PPC Management Company Do?
A PPC management company will set-up your PPC advertising campaigns, and continuously monitor the clicks you’re receiving to ensure the leads are converting into potentials sales.

A good PPC Manager will fine tune your keywords to a point where you are only paying for solid search terms that are good leads. Although the tools to do this are available to all AdWords and Bing users, we find a lot of individuals and companies not using them. For example, we did a free audit for an owner who had been managing his own PPC for 4 years. Using his Google Analytics ‘matched search queries’ data and AdWords average cost-per-click data, we found that he had been spending an average of $1,000 per month on bad clicks. With a couple negative keywords and qualifiers, we reduced his total spend and improved the quality of his leads almost instantly. This is what your PPC management company should be doing.

How do I Choose an SEO Company?
It’s important to hire a PPC management company that understands your type of business. An e-commerce website has a different client base and different goals than a service company, so their advertising strategy will be different. An e-commerce website will often put their ads in front of consumers over multiple visits to maximize exposure. These companies don’t mind window shoppers, because a window shopper may eventually convert. Service companies, on the other hand, are fulfilling an immediate need; when a consumer’s refrigerator is not cooling, he isn’t window shopping: He needs service now!

If you’re concerned about how your PPC Manager is doing, be sure you review your Google Analytics data. Google Analytics is made to show you everything you need to know about your PPC performance. If the company managing your PPC has their own reporting interface, make sure you have full access to see all of the work via Google Analytics. This keeps the work transparent and will allow you to have an outside person do an audit on your behalf. An easy way to see how the PPC manager is spending your money is to ask him for a Google Analytics Acquisition report with “Matched Search Queries.” This report will show you what the user searched when she clicked on your ad.

How much does PPC Management cost?
Most big PPC companies will base their costs on how much traffic they bring to your website. You pay them on a percentage of your PPC spend. So, for example, if the company is charging 10% of your spend, and you spend $5,000 in PPC, then you pay a management fee of $500.00. The problem with this model is that there is no benefit for the company to fine tune your clicks, because then they’ll ultimately be getting paid less. These types of PPC Management companies will often blow through your budget within the first week of the period, and then want more of your money. And, we often find, many of the clicks they deliver have a low chance of converting.

Some PPC companies charge a flat monthly rate for their services. The rate may or may not increase depending on your monthly spend. We use a flat rate model, and we don’t raise the monthly fee as your spend fluctuates. We like this model because we are able to focus on reducing our client’s spend by targeting only consumers who are ready to convert. In other words, rather than focusing on the number of clicks our clients receive, we focus on the quality of the clicks and their ability to convert. We find that this model works best for service companies because about 98% of their website traffic is looking to convert in that moment.

PPC is great to generate new leads now and SEO is a long term investment. Both have great ROI when it comes to web marketing. Which ever one you decide to invest in first will depend on the current needs of your business.