Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pay Per Click or Search Engine Optimization? That Is The Question!

Since I work so closely with businesses that are just getting started online I come across this question quite often. Do I start a pay per click campaign or is search engine optimization the way to go? Often I respond with a very quick, “You need to do both!” I feel very strongly about ensuring a website is getting as much exposure as possible. Many years ago it was fairly easy to get strong positioning in the search engines – mainly Google. This has changed significantly and as a result new businesses find themselves struggling to get traffic if they do not plan effectively. Understanding the differences for both efforts is crucial so let’s go over some very specific details first:

What is Search Engine Optimization?

By definition search engine optimization is a process of overseeing a website to ensure its ability to attract traffic naturally by achieving strong positioning in the major search engines for specific keyword phrases that are related to your business.

Read more about what search engine optimization is by visiting sites like Search Engine Watch.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

By definition pay per click advertising is a marketing effort that enables a website to bid on keyword phrases related to one’s business which can appear in the search results pages of major search engines. Visitors can find your ads online with ease, once they click on your ad you pay for that click. The cost is based on the competitiveness of the keyword associated with others who are also bidding on the same terms.

Want to start your own pay per click campaign, it is easy to do with Google Adwords.

Now back to the question of whether or not to do one vs. the other. Natural traffic is free, while pay per click is paid traffic. All in all traffic is traffic and the more exposure you can achieve especially during the early phases of getting noticed in the search engines the better. It is important to have a strong online marketing strategy in place that will help to grow your business. Search engine optimization takes time as you earn your place in the search engines and gain respect and trust from engines such as Google.

While you are waiting to get noticed it makes sense to essentially push your site in front of visitors initially with a pay per click campaign. As your site gains more credibility and positioning improves over time your traffic will increase. If you are also managing a pay per click campaign the traffic increase can be quite extensive in addition to your site’s natural traffic from optimization efforts. It is in your best interest as a business owner to ensure your site is being found and a combined effort of pay per click advertising as well as search engine optimization can assist you with this goal.

As always research before you start an effort such as this, understand your market and what it takes to market your business. Should you decide to consult with experts make sure it is a company that understands the essentials in marketing your business online.

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