Businesses starting out in internet marketing are bombarded with lots of new terminology. SEM, SEO, PPC- what does it all mean? SEM, or search engine marketing, is the general term for all marketing efforts that improve a website’s visibility in the search engines. SEM is comprised of two main components; SEO, or search engine optimization, and PPC, or pay per click. Both SEO and PPC help to improve a brand presence on a search engine results page, but in different ways. In a PPC campaign, the website owner bids on specific keywords and pays the search engine every time the ad is clicked on. If the price is right, you can see your website on a search engine results page fairly quickly. SEO, on the other hand, is a long term strategy and results won’t be seen immediately. In SEO, no money is exchanged with the search engine. By spending a lot of time and effort, SEO tactics get a website to rank in the organic section of a search engine results page over time.
Once business and website owners understand the difference between PPC and SEO, the next step is to determine whether they should focus on one or the other, or both. They often wonder which would be “better”. The truth is that neither strategy is “better”, per se. For a business that is just starting out, it’s advisable to invest in both.
While SEO doesn’t technically cost anything to do, it isn’t free. After all, it takes a lot of time and effort, which is essentially a cost. It’s important to understand the nature of an SEO campaign from the start. While it may take time to see results, a good white hat SEO strategy that is implemented properly will result in increased website traffic and conversions over time. Search engine users are smart. They know the difference between a paid ad and an organic listing. An organic listing is often viewed as more trusted, since the website owner didn’t pay the search engine anything.
You may be wondering, “If an organic listing is more trusted, what’s the point of PPC?” Well, while you are working hard at SEO and trying to get a prominent organic listing, PPC can improve your visibility in the interim. Even if your ad doesn’t get clicked on, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t getting noticed. PPC ads help to build a brand.
Once your B2B SEO efforts pay off and you are happy with your search engine results page placement (which could take awhile!), it’s then OK to scale back on PPC. It doesn’t mean that a PPC campaign should be ditched entirely. There’s something to be said for a website that appears in both the PPC and organic section of a search engine results page at the same time. It establishes that the website is highly relevant to the search query.
Of course, it’s important to measure ROI to determine whether a PPC campaign is worth it. Are visitors from PPC converting? Do you have the money to continue to invest in PPC? There are many factors to consider, but the bottom line is that investing in B2B SEO is always well worth it.