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Search Engine Marketing: SEO vs. Paid Search

Avatar of Pulse Marketing By Pulse Marketing

One highly-deliberated topic is the comparison of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search, also known as pay per click (PPC). Without choosing sides, we’d like to take a moment to inform you of both marketing options, their general result, and what we think works best in a robust search engine marketing campaign.

Your average search engine consists of a crawler and a ranking algorithm. When someone searches for a subject, an internet robot – or crawler – then scans through as many pages as possible to gather websites pertaining to what you searched for. The algorithm then determines the relevance of these pages and ranks them in order. Therefore, through the use of best practices for search engine optimization, your goal is to have your website be among the highest ranked – which in turn would result in more visitors to your website.

How do you do this? Ideally, you would incorporate SEO-optimized copy and code when first developing your website – but it is never too late to integrate it. This means doing such things as indexing your site (which makes it much easier for crawlers to find), writing good content with sufficient keywords (relevant to the theme of your website) on each page, using appropriate tags for on-page elements, and assembling a strong collection of inbound links.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of SEO is keyword selection: having the proper keywords and search phrases in the content of your website. For instance, if someone searches ‘Simple Dinner Dishes’, the crawler would look for this exact phrase and other relevant phrases. To ensure your website has a fighting chance of being selected, you must consider the focus of the content on your website – and then optimize it with the most effective keywords, search strings, and phrases. Having appropriate content is by far the most valuable device you have when giving SEO a try.

The most difficult part of SEO is link building. Why? Because it is time consuming and it requires a lot of dedication to do it correctly. Some less-than-honest webmasters create what the industry calls ‘link farms’, which are essentially large collections of sites that all link to each other in order to generate more inbound links and traffic. However, many of these links do not have anything to do with the content of the websites they are on, and some search engines will frequently blacklist or ban websites that participate in link farms. So, be careful about linking to large numbers of sites that have nothing to do with your content. Our suggestion to cultivate your links the right way: by participating in forums, blogging, networking, and establishing enough reputation that other websites will want to link to you.

On the other hand, you have Paid Search or PPC (Pay Per Click). Advocates of this form of marketing claim that it is much easier to manage, and can deliver superior feedback regarding its performance. While PPC marketing does have its advantages, at Pulse Marketing we feel that no website can be successful using only PPC. You always need a healthy dose of SEO.

Before you consider starting a PPC campaign, you must first consider which search engines have the best market reach (and are within your budget). Many search engines and portals allow very low starting budgets – $5.00 per day or less. That may not seem like much money, but depending on the keyword, it may not even cover one single click! Some of the most highly-competitive keywords bid at $10, $20, or even $50 per click. So, the secret is to hone on the keywords that give you the best ROI, and to make certain that your ad copy is effective. Commit to a budget and monitor it closely. If after a couple of weeks you notice that it is not working, something is wrong. Re-work your keywords and try again.

Search Engine Marketing is not an easy function. It is a profession – and a highly regarded one, at that. If you’re just starting out in SEM, we recommend integrating a healthy dose of good SEO practices with a very well planned and monitored PPC campaign. Test, test, and test, until you get them right.

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