PPC & Paid Search Advertising

Pay-Per-Click (or PPC) Marketing is a great way to drive relevant traffic to your website without having to wait for anything or anyone. You can get your website and business in front of people searching for the products and services you offer right from day one. There are many benefits and reasons to be running a PPC campaign, but unfortunately many people overlook this aspect of search marketing and consider it too expensive.

The fact is most companies that start a paid search campaign waste money or over spend due to unoptimized ads and landing pages. If you don't optimize your campaigns you will have a lower relevancy score, a lower click-through rate, and ultimately pay more per click than you should.

Looking for info on how to make money from ads on your website?

This article is about paying for ads to bring traffic to your website. If you're looking for info on how to put ads on your website to make money from them, check out our website creation guide here.

Why Engage in Paid Search Advertising?

1. Test Potential Keywords For SEO

Are you looking to invest heavily in search engine optimization but want to make sure the keywords you choose will generate additional phone calls and leads? PPC is a great way to test keyword volume and see how that traffic will convert on your website.

You can use this data to improve your website to increase conversions and make the final decision of whether or not to pursue this keyword.

2. Retarget Previous Website Visitors

Search retargeting is one of the most powerful marketing tools available on the web right now. When a visitor lands on your website from a search engine, a piece of software (called a cookie) is installed in their browser. You can then use this cookie to identify them as a previous visitor and have your ads displayed strategically to these people as they browse the web. This additional exposure and brand familiarity will lead in higher click-throughs and conversions rates.

3. Reliable Source Of Ongoing Traffic

Advertising campaigns can be an excellent way to drive traffic consistently to your website while knowing what every visit or click will cost. You will appear in the search engines consistently while your potential customers look for your products and services online. With a little tweaking and optimization this can be a very good source of low-cost traffic.

Should I invest in advertising or SEO?

Businesses engaging in both search advertising and SEO campaigns have reported a massive increase in business through their website when spending both on advertising and SEO as compared to spending on just one or the other.

Stats also show that ranking well for 'organic' results from SEO results in more business than showing up solely in the ads.

Here's some handy tips to help you either choose one or the other OR determine how your marketing budget should be divided between them:

  • If you have the budget for both ads and SEO, you should do both and ignore the rest of these tips
  • If what you want is a directly measurable cost that is linked to each campaign or to show up at the top of search results fast, and you don't have the budget for both ads and an SEO campaign, then you should go with ads.
  • If you prefer longer-term investments where, in the long run, your investment cost stays fairly static (or increases minimally), then investing in SEO is your best bet. With SEO you're not spending for every single click or impression and so, over time, that means a greater return on investment
  • Many searchers skip over the ads in their search results because they know that the companies didn't work hard to get there and instead paid for the spot (like how people frequently ignore commercials on TV). Visitors that arrive on your site via organic results (SEO) is more likely to become a customer and invest in your brand. If building a brand and quality of visitors is important to you, then SEO is probably your better investment.

Frequently the answer to the question of Ads or SEO comes down to none of the above and simply how much competition there is in either advertising or SEO. If your return on investment (ROI) looks solid for advertising, then that might be your better avenue to start with, and of course, the same is true for SEO.

Calculating ROI from Traffic

ROI should just about always play a role when comparing Ads to SEO. As an example, let's say:

  • You spend $750 / month on SEO that, after 3 months, gets you a #2 position on Google, resulting in 2000 visitors per month thereafter.
  • Your Google Ads bid/spend average is 50c per click for your ad to appear frequently enough to also result in 2000 visitors per month.

That means that after 6 months you've spent $4,500 on SEO and $6000 on ads to get the same quantity of traffic. The ads will have appeared to pay off within the first month, while SEO won't appear to pay off until at least a couple months in.

But remember what we said above: studies have found better customer retention from SEO than from Ads (assuming they're equally well targeted), so not only are you spending more on ads (in this example), but you're getting less loyal customers from that form of marketing.

Conversion Rate Note: a conversion is taking those 2000 visitors and turning some of them into customers. Conversion rates vary by industry, but are frequently between 1 and 6% for online sales. Conversion rates tend to be slightly higher for SEO than for ads.

These are, of course, simplified examples. The only way to know for sure which is best for you and your industry is to get quotes for each and compare directly. Just make sure that you're weighing the value of the ROI from SEO at least 10-15% higher than ads.

How to get started with online advertising

You could create and manage your campaigns directly in the online advertising panels of common online advertising services, like:

  • Google Ads (AdWords)
  • Microsoft Advertising (Bing Ads)
  • Twitter Ads
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Outbrain
  • etc

Or you could use an advertising management system that aggregates some of these into one campaign manager and then distributes your ads to a number of the above networks.

One example of this is AdEspresso by Hootsuite.

Conversion Rates by Ad Platform

Remember our conversion rate discussion above? Well conversion rates also differ by platform. (As if there wasn't enough to confuse you, right?) The gist is that search advertising converts better than social media, with Google taking the top marks. Check out this Forbes article for more details.