Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices will not only drive more convertible traffic to your website but will also eliminate your dependency on less performing pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. While it is impossible to quantify how many unique impressions your SEO effort is yielding, a measurably larger volume of relevant traffic and higher conversion rates should be expected when moving from a paid advertising model to a framework of organic search relevancy for Google and the social media . More on the social media later.
Do not misunderstand. PPC marketing certainly has its useful place. Buying ad space on Google can be the easiest, quickest and least expensive way to get started driving traffic to your site. But as with any paid advertising, you have to continue spending money to continue getting traffic. If you stop spending money on your PPC campaign, the traffic to your site will stop just as quickly. PPC is often a good resource for your tactical initiatives and represents a great way to generate quick traffic while limiting expenses in the short-term. As soon as your internet marketing ambitions turn to a more strategic long-term objective, then the cost- and performance-effectiveness of PPC campaigns diminish rapidly.
Pay per click will buy visitors
Depending on the quality of your keyword selections, a spike in traffic can begin to occur within minutes of turning on your PPC campaign. If you are not competitive for the most popular keywords and phrases in your niche, then your click fees may remain both minimal and manageable for a time. But here is the long-term problem with PPC. As your campaign grows (as will competition for your keywords) your click fees and management costs can quickly outgrow your available budget. Fortunately, you can turn off your PCC campaign when its cost begins to grow disproportionately to your actual conversions. As is frequently the case, increasing PPC traffic with flat or declining conversions means the traffic you are buying does not really give a crap. That is not the kind of traffic you want to be appealing, much less paying for by the click.
Granted, in the early stages of a site, product or service launch, traffic is king. For this reason, PPC advertising is well-suited to campaigns where you want to quickly draw a diversity of attention and drive-by traffic. Early on, you just want visitors and PPP marketing will most likely deliver them, possibly in large numbers. PPC marketing is quick, reliably inexpensive to start, providing great keyword analytics and market research data. Best of all, it is easily ditched when the bill get bigger than its benefit to your cost-per-lead or cost-per-conversion metrics. Instead of relying on PPC for a long-term marketing strategy, use it to test your keyword marketing and as a jump-starter for anything new you might want to test or launch. But know that your marketing budget can be a lot better invested if you limit your paid advertising dollars to reach periodic periods, short-term, tactical objectives rather than as a long-term business growth strategy.
Social media myth
A quick word about social media is in order here. Branding and the development of a growing community of interested friends, fans and followers is the role and promise of social media. As a viral medium, it's potential to create a buzz or to unseat governments, as we've recently seen, is unprecedented and unrivaled. Social media will continue to change the way we do life and business, sometimes in ways we can not even begin to imagine. But with all of its raw viral power, social media is not a strong enough force to push a site up in page rank, let alone to page one of Google. Contrary to what many believe, social media plays virtually no role in determining either relevance or rank in organic search engine results. It is a viral medium that is second to none in building an interactive community, but it does not boost your site's position in organic Google search ranking. That is what SEO is for.
SEO will attract customers
If you want your site to be found when consumers are searching online for what it is that you offer, then you are going to have to help Google to like your site more than your competitors. It's as simple as that. Getting to the top of Google is a challenge, to be sure, but is eminently doable and bestows rich rewards on those who do it well. Exploring how effective and ethical SEO is achieved is beyond our purview, here. Readers are advised to seek the help and guidance of a qualified SEO professional before embarking on a new SEO initiative.
The principle to see here is the inverse relationship between PPC and SEO. The less SEO you have, the more PPC you will need. The more SEO you have, the less PPC you will need. Without SEO, your site will remain invisible to the search engines, increasing your dependency on paid advertising or word of mouth (social media) to generate traffic. With SEO, your site can be optimized to achieve a high rank in organic search results which will serve up targeted traffic that is far more apt to convert than traffic you are merely purchasing by the click. This is because 75% of all search clickthough traffic is relevant relevant organic results, not from sponsored ads. Since organic search is designed to yield only relevant results, the traffic site receives from organic searches will always be more targeted, relevant and convertible than PPC-generated traffic.
But even though SEO generated traffic will always return the better ROI, there still seems to be a tendency to relegate SEO projects to the backseat behind less effective PPC initiatives. We know that 75% of all search clickthrough traffic comes from organic search results yet, on average, only 15% of online marketing budgets go to SEO campaigns. Conversely, only 25% of clickthrough traffic comes from paid advertisements, yet PPC campaigns consume 75-80% of most online marketing budgets. In many cases we've seen site owners paying more in click fees for non-targeted traffic than a high-yielding SEO project would cost. If site owners in this camp would be mercifully shift their priorities and expectations to a slightly longer-term approach, powerful SEO projects could be easily funded and begin improving both the quantity and the quality of conversions. Sites that are heavily dependent upon PPC campaigns to generate or maintain traffic will realize a significant ROI from converting to an SEO-centric online marketing strategy in three ways.
1. Conversion of organic search traffic will be easier than traffic from paid advertisements. Organic traffic is based on relevance to your site's content, whereas PPC traffic is based heavily on the amount of money being spent on the ad. More conversions mean more revenue ..
2. SEO initiatives will create sustainable, rather than momentary, results. A properly conceived SEO strategy will typically require a larger upfront investment and continuing due diligence. But once implemented, your SEO initiatives will continue to pay dividends long after strong results are achieved. Think in terms of compounding interest and you'll get the picture.
3. By reducing dependency on PPC advertising, associated monthly management costs and click fees decline. The larger a PPC campaign grows (and they all grow) the more it costs and the more professional management it requires. A typical management fee is 15% of the monthly click fees. That means that as your click fees go up, so do your management fees. It's a great deal for the PPC providers, but not so pretty for the site owner. Occasionally, a site with a strong organic search presence will find little or no need to maintain an ongoing PPC campaign. This is where the savings alone can often offset your SEO costs.
Shifting from a PPC-centric to an SEO-centric online marketing strategy will cost more upfront, but the savings realized from reducing or eliminating your PPC footprint will greatly offset, if not fully fund a well executed SEO strategy. While some promote maintaining concurrent SEO and PPC campaigns, we see that as an unnecessary expense and distraction. Instead, your PPC budget may be the ideal funding source for a truly effective SEO campaign. Ask your SEO professional today what savings you might gain from making the shift.