When it comes to your online presence, simply “having a website” isn’t enough. Ensuring potential customers can find your website is vital, and can be hugely challenging with so much competition online.
One solution to cut through this and ensure your website gets in front of the right people involves a combination of search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC). Combined search accounts for 76% of traffic to B2B websites, so understanding how you can use this to deliver results is incredibly valuable.
Maximising opportunities online
SEO delivers organic traffic to your website and has the ultimate goal of putting your website on page one of the search results for your relevant keywords. While this is not always easily achievable for the most competitive keywords and industries, good SEO will help you rise through the rankings and generate more traffic to your website. 53% of all trackable website traffic comes from organic search, but 90% of website pages get no organic search traffic from Google, highlighting the huge opportunity SEO offers to put you ahead of the competition.
PPC generates traffic through placing paid ads on search engine results pages (SERPs), which appear above the organic results. Pricing depends on the keyword targeted, and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. As well as how high your top bid is, another other factor determining whether your ad gets the top spot is its quality score, which looks at its anticipated click-through rate (CTR), relevance and landing page experience. With a well-optimised landing page contributing to your quality score, you can already see how SEO and PPC need to work together to achieve the best results.
Understanding when and how to use each depends very much on your digital strategy. When planning how to make the most of your online presence, you need to consider not only how prospective customers search for you online, but also how competitive the SERPs are within your industry, and the average cost per click in paid search. You’ll then need to evaluate how your website is currently performing, and use all of this information to help determine your strategy and your short- and long-term goals.
Key differences between SEO and PPC
While PPC and SEO both use search engines to maximise opportunities through your website, there are a number of key differences between them. Understanding these differences is vital to ensuring you use them strategically to complement each other and maximise your return on investment.
Your budget and timeframe will impact on how you use your mix of SEO and PPC.
Investing in good SEO isn’t cheap, but is typically spread over a longer term than PPC spend which is usually allocated to shorter campaigns. SEO is therefore often more cost-effective than PPC. It should form the bedrock of your digital marketing strategy, as it offers longer-term sustainability, driving high quality organic traffic to your site long after your initial investment. SEO activity must be maintained to ensure it remains effective, but once you have good SEO in place, it requires less ongoing investment.
The cost of PPC depends very much on your budget, and you’re in control of how much you choose to spend. For more popular search terms you may need a much higher bid, so in a competitive environment, relying on PPC alone is not a long-term sustainable solution. In many cases, ads are more visible and can receive higher conversions, but they receive fewer clicks than organic search results, so using PPC alongside SEO is the most sensible strategy for most scenarios.
PPC advertising, when done right, can get rapid results by putting your brand in front of a highly targeted audience which you might not be able to easily reach organically. In fact, PPC ads can increase brand awareness by up to 80%. With real-time analytics available, you can use the data to very quickly make changes if necessary, and experiment with different keywords and ad messaging. If you have a realistic budget and the know-how and tools to monitor and improve your campaigns, PPC can lead to great results by getting your ads in the best position and enabling you to react quickly in response to A/B testing of new ideas.
SEO offers a longer-term strategy, and you won’t jump straight to the top Google overnight. Instead, good SEO will see your website rise through the search rankings over time, by researching and focusing on keywords which your customers are using and carefully targeting these with valuable, relevant content. Organic search results not only increase your visibility and association with key search terms relating to you industry, but B2B companies generate 2x more revenue from organic search than any other channel. In addition, organic results are are generally seen as more credible and trustworthy, as they are more likely to match exactly what the user is searching for.
PPC is quick to set up compared to optimising your entire website, but still requires careful planning and research to be effective and see return on investment. For this reason, companies will often use an SEO and PPC agency such as Motion to run their ad campaigns, as they have specialist staff who can ensure budgets are well spent.
It’s important to ensure there’s a clear understanding of the conversions and ROI you want to achieve from your PPC – if the data shows the results aren’t being delivered, the campaign may need to be re-optimised. PPC also requires constant investment. The moment you stop paying, the ads stop. It’s therefore worth putting a plan and budget in place to ensure campaign data is acted on and that someone will be responsible for managing your campaigns to ensure they deliver results.
Great SEO takes a lot of hard work. It requires a mix of both technical and content writing skills, guided by careful keyword research – the structure of the website and metadata must work alongside the content to ensure it is well optimised for search engines. As with PPC, this requires specialist know-how to achieve the best results, as getting it right can be very difficult, especially in the technology sector where search terms can be very competitive and dominated by key players.
Combining channels for success
Combining SEO and PPC can be beneficial for your business in a number of different scenarios.
Cutting through crowded markets
SEO ensures your website content is structured and focused, helping you appear in search results for terms related to your products or services. But this can be difficult in sectors like technology, where competition for certain keywords is fierce. For competitive search terms and crowded markets, SEO alone may not be enough to reach the top of Google. This is where PPC can work alongside a well-optimised website to show ads which will help increase your visibility and drive additional traffic to your website.
When you need immediate results
A combined approach can be particularly useful when entering a new market, launching a new website, or introducing a new product or service. SEO can take time to see results, so when you need to make an impact fast, enhancing your digital plan with PPC advertising can be an effective way to generate traffic in the shorter term while you continue to develop and expand your website content. While your SEO is still gaining momentum, PPC can help increase visibility of your brand for new keywords, and ensure valuable opportunities to build brand awareness and generate leads are not missed.
Reaching customers at the right time
A mix of SEO and PPC can help you more effectively reach people at all stages of the customer journey. You can do this by targeting search terms relating to their requirements at different stages, and then driving users towards well-optimised landing pages containing information tailored to their needs. PPC also offers a great way to test the effectiveness of different keywords before incorporating them into your long-term SEO strategy, ensuring you’re creating the right content and using the right terms to achieve visibility and offer valuable insight to customers when they most need it for their decision-making.
Integrating SEO and PPC with other channels
It’s not just SEO and PPC that complement each other in the marketing mix. Integrating these channels with website development, content marketing, social media or email marketing can help create effective campaigns that deliver results. Working with experts that can manage all of these areas will help make the process easier, more effective and ensure you get the best outcome.
As outlined earlier, effective SEO and successful PPC campaigns rely on well-designed, optimised websites and high quality, relevant content that adds real value to your customers. A well-structured, responsive website will go a long way towards supporting your SEO. Effective web development can ensure your website offers great technical SEO and is set up to provide search engines with the right data in the right format.
Content marketing can ensure that your website not only contains relevant, up-to-date information to maintain your search engine rankings, but also that you continue to provide relevant, useful content to your customers, positively influencing their buying decisions. Search engines give more weight to websites which are active and kept up to date, so creating constant new content, perhaps via a blog or news section, is important. Good content marketing will also include adapting content for other channels such as social media and emails, to increase your visibility and drive additional traffic to your website.
If you’d benefit from expert support with your SEO, PPC or digital content, the Motion team are happy to help. As an SEO and PPC agency, the team includes digital marketing specialists and technical content specialists who work together to deliver effective, integrated digital campaigns and strategies to deliver real results for B2B businesses.