One of the big hurdles in starting your digital marketing campaign is the fact that there are so many darn acronyms to contend with. You’ve got SEO, PPC, PPO, and numerous others.
Not to mention all of the nuances and particulars that go into each one of those concepts. We’re going to break down the differences between the main two today.
We’ll look at the difference between SEO and PPC, giving you some insight into these two marketing tactics and how they can benefit your business. Let’s get started.
What’s The Difference Between SEO and PPC?
The important thing to note is that PPC and SEO are two different branches in the digital marketing tree.
Both are methods of marketing your business, although each one poses its own particular benefits. There may also be certain times to use each one to complement the other and find the most success.
A deep understanding of each will help you to get a well-rounded digital marketing platform, or at least understand what an SEO agency is doing when they explain their efforts to you.
You’ll find that search engine optimization and PPC advertising aren’t as complicated as they seem to be. That said, they can take up a lot of time and effort. As you work through both ideas today, ask yourself if you have the time and energy to devote to these practices.
A lot of small business owners find that it’s too difficult to manage their normal work as well as the responsibilities of digital marketing. In those cases, it’s a good idea to hire an agency to help you with your campaign.
Professionals can eliminate the learning curve and start to bring you results right away. Further, the results they bring might be a lot more significant than the ones that you could make time for with a busy schedule.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the effort that websites make to try and rank better in the search engine results pages. Each search engine has its own particular search algorithm, so tactics will change a little bit depending on the search engine you’re going for.
That said, most of the web traffic comes from Google. So, most websites on the internet optimize their sites for the Google search algorithm.
When you try to rank well in results pages, you’re doing it for a specific keyword phrase. You can’t just try to be “high-ranked,” because Google doesn’t categorize websites and rank them by niche.
Instead, they do a particular equation for each keyword search and produce the results accordingly. That means that the entire process starts with finding the right keywords to try and rank for.
The Importance of The Keyword
The entire process starts with the keyword. When a user wants to look something up, they type a specific keyword phrase into the search bar.
After that, Google runs that keyword phrase against roughly 200 factors. The AI sifts through the billions of sites in its index and pulls out the sites that would be most relevant to the keyword search in question.
In a matter of milliseconds, the user is faced with a list of Google’s best pages in relation to the term that they searched. Slight variations in the keyword search will lead to changes in the results that show up.
So, “great bicycle” might have one set of results, while “great bike” might have another. It’s that nuance that makes search engine optimization so challenging, but it’s also what provides enough unique ranking opportunities for small businesses to have success.
If massive companies could rank at the top position for all of the searches in a particular niche, there wouldn’t be much use for small businesses to try to get exposure through search engines.
Finding The Right Keyword
The challenge, then, becomes finding the right terms to rank for. While Google produces unique results for each search, it’s still true that the most powerful companies or businesses in a niche tend to rank for the best keywords.
The most popular search result pages are bogged down with the most popular brands, it makes sense. Small businesses should look for keyword phrases that have a lot of traffic, but relatively low competition.
Keyword research is the process of finding terms that strike some kind of manageable balance between those two factors. It’s also about finding terms that are popular within your target demographic.
The beautiful thing about keyword research tools is that they allow you to get insight into all of those details. You can see how popular a term is, look at the competition, and know who’s making those searches.
Once you’ve got a keyword selection, it’s time to start implementing them into your content. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty of optimizing pages today, but we’ll give you a good idea of how to approach the process.
The idea is to optimize your main pages for the terms that will bring you the most success. If you can get your product, contact, and other main pages to rank in the top five results of Google, you’ll be in great shape.
Those are the pages that will bring in the most money, so it makes sense that you would put the most effort into them.
You can’t stop there, though. Those pages won’t rise up the ranks unless they’ve got a little bit of help behind them. Note that a web page’s strength is measured by itself as well as in relation to its main site. In other words, the quality of your specific page matters a lot, but it helps if your website is popular.
Content Creation Effort
After your main pages have been optimized, your job is to put out a regular stream of search-engine-optimized content. That content should be created in response to the keyword research that you do.
When you find a keyword that fits your goals, you can try to find the question that’s implied within it. For example, our “new bike” keyword would imply that the user is looking for a new bike.
If not, they’re curious about new bikes, biking, outdoor activities, and other things within that niche.
So, you can take that keyword and create a piece that addresses the user’s implied question. It doesn’t have to be direct and dry, though. You could write a post about how to find new biking locations, the best time of year to buy a new bike, the best bike brands, or whatever else comes to mind.
The idea is to create something that’s natural to your brand while incorporating the keyword phrase in a natural way.
Polishing Your Website
The other end of search engine optimization is called “off-page” SEO. These are factors that relate to how your site works.
User experience is important to Google. Within the user experience umbrella lay site speed, response time, site architecture, design, and more. Those factors are difficult to adjust if you’re not a graphic designer or web designer.
There are a number of specific values that Google places on different aspects of site speed. It’s worth talking with a web designer about these when it comes to your site. Site architecture might be one of the things that you have some control over if you manage your website.
This refers to the way that your pages are laid out. The idea is that one page should never be more than two or three clicks from any other. If your site is organized in a logical way, users should be able to get from place to place without much trouble.
Free Ad Space
When you start getting good rankings, the time spent at the top of the results pages is like a constant advertisement. It’s also free to sit at the top of the results pages.
While it may cost some money to get your site in a position to rank, ranking itself is free. Depending on the popularity of the keyword, those rankings could make the difference for your business.
What Is PPC?
PPC stands for “pay-per-click.”
It’s a form of advertising that allows you to place your content in social media feeds and search results pages without having to go through the process of optimization.
One of the benefits of PPC is that it allows you to reach very specific audiences. You can reasonably pinpoint your target audience on multiple platforms and place your advertisement in front of them.
You might know these kinds of ads as “sponsored posts” that show up on social media. You’ll also see them at the very top of a lot of search results pages, typically holding the first two or three spots in the search.
What’s With The Name?
The name “pay-per-click” refers to the way that you’re charged for the advertisements. You’re only required to pay whenever you receive an engagement on the ad.
An engagement could be a like, share, comment, or click. When someone sees your ad but doesn’t engage, you aren’t charged. It’s a great way of getting exactly what you pay for. You can also set a budget so your ad is removed once you reach the maximum amount you’re willing to pay.
Pricing isn’t uniform for all ads, though. You pay more for the ad space that’s going to get more attention. These prices are decided through a process of auction.
Different individuals name a price for the keyword to rank for, and that price goes up as more and more people bid. The average keyword price per click is around 60-80 cents, although a lot of keywords can go for a higher price.
In some cases, you’ll luck out and get a popular keyword phrase for a lot less than it’s worth if nobody bids on it.
Ads Require A Quality Site
One thing to keep in mind is that ads won’t work unless your site is up to par. If your ad is great but your site seems suspicious, you aren’t likely to get a lot of ROI.
So, it’s important to make sure your user experience and site function are good before you invest a lot into PPC ads. That said, ads are very effective when your site can complement them and lead users to a sale.
It can be smart to use SEO and PPC at the same time. The traffic from a good ad will boost your SEO metrics, and the work that goes into an SEO campaign will help your ads become more effective.
If that’s your plan, though, it might be smart to wait until the back-end SEO is complete so that users are able to work through your site without any hiccups.
Locating Your Target Audience
Another thing to consider with PPC ads is that your audience isn’t going to be present on every platform. You might dump a lot of time and effort into Facebook Ads when your target demographic is more present on Instagram, for example.
It’s important to know where your people are spending their time online so that you can reach them more effectively. If your niche is more geared toward Google searches, then you could consider spending more of your ad budget on Google Ads.
The point is to do your research before you start putting ads out into the internet so that your time and effort aren’t wasted.
A good way to streamline that process and make sure you get results is to work with a marketing agency. Agencies can offer effective SEO and PPC services that make the entire process easy.
Interested in Learning More About Digital Marketing Services?
Now that you understand the difference between SEO and PPC, you can start to think about how you want to implement them into your business plan. There’s a lot to think about, but there are a lot of resources out there that can help you along the way.
We’re here to bring you the digital marketing information you need. Explore our site for more ideas on SEO, PPC, content creation, and more.