In my years of coaching for construction companies and other blue collar businesses, I run into a lot of people wanting to establish a stronger online presence. They’ve heard of both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click advertising (PPC), but they don’t know which one to invest in.
If you’re in this position, how do you determine which strategy you need? Below is an overview of the benefits and downfalls of both SEO and PPC.
Benefits of Pay Per Click:
Pay Per Click, sometimes known as “pay to play,” leads to quicker exposure for businesses and there is more short-term control over the results. Google Ads and social media ads are great examples of PPC. The ads can be turned on and off, directed toward a certain market, run quickly and you can control where the ads show up. When running ads you can determine if an ad shows up on the top of a Google search results page, or on the sidebar of Facebook. The other good thing is that you can see quickly from data if the money you are spending is resulting in sales or not. The numbers are there for a quick report, and testing, re-testing, and tweaking are the keys to PPC.
Downfalls of Pay Per Click:
The downfall to PPC is that you don’t own the platform the ads are shown on. You’re paying to have your business show up on Google or a social media platform. With that comes a need to spend a daily budget. While the ads can be a quick win, you will need to keep the ad spend flowing, and that budget can increase or decrease dramatically depending on the season or the market. One easy example: social media ads always increase in cost around the Christmas holiday. So not only will you always need a daily spending budget, you never know how that will ebb and flow to get maximum results.
Benefits of Search Engine Optimization:
One of the biggest benefits of SEO is the long-term return on investment. There’s stability in SEO. Once you’ve achieved successful SEO results, it’s there for the long term. Often for higher market value businesses, such as contracting companies and hardware businesses, SEO is the better option.
With SEO you own the platform: your own website! And since you own your website, and it ranks organically on Google and other search engines, you never have to worry about paying for it to show up on search results via an advertisement. Any competitors you may have can’t just outbuy you on an ad cost, which means you have a strategic advantage for the long-term, especially against those who are only leveraging PPC.
You’ll also have the benefit of enhanced trust and confidence from potential customers who come to your website. Since they found you from an online search organically, and not from seeing a paid ad, they’ll give you the benefit of their trust from the organic search result.
Downfalls to Search Engine Optimization:
The biggest downfall to SEO is that it doesn’t work overnight. You can’t just turn on an ad and immediately get results. It doesn’t have quick data to test, either. It simply takes longer to get the data and desired results.
SEO is typically not a good investment for seasonal retail products that are low cost, have a smaller profit margin, and need fast results during the holidays. Think of the ads you see around Christmas time for tree ornaments or specific holiday toys. Those are usually best served with ads, not with long-term SEO.
Benefits of Investing in Both:
There may be a time when investing in PPC and SEO will benefit your business. This can occur when a business wants the short-term result of PPC but has the ability to invest in the long game of SEO, knowing that once SEO begins to get traction, they can decrease their paid ad budget or eliminate it altogether.
Which is the best strategy?:
Typically, for high ticket items and long-term sales, SEO investment will be the best strategy for your business. SEO will usually see the highest return on investment, but since it takes time, you will need a business that can maintain profitability as that happens.
SEO will allow you to grow your business the same as you would grow muscles. It might be slow, and you’ll have to eat your veggies and protein along the way, but the payout will be significantly more, and you’ll be building a stronger and more trustworthy brand site that you own.