For all companies, institutions, and individuals who use the internet, the underlying goal is to generate views to drive business. Getting the most webpage “hits” is what allows a company to grow, attract visitors and members, and allows individuals to get noticed. Most people who use the internet seek to attract more visitors by making their webpages interactive, eye-catching, and memorable.
While these goals are important and worth investing in, we believe the secret behind receiving numerous website views is quite simple. No matter how nice your webpage looks, if it is not listed as a popular result in a search engine, it will likely not get much notice. Some people may stumble across it, and some may intentionally find it, but the casual internet surfer will not see your webpage.
The real way to attract attention to your webpage is to try one of two search engine marketing approaches: search engine optimization or pay per click. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is following a certain set of criteria when making a webpage, so search engine spiders will select the matching keywords from a page when those keywords are searched. Pay per click, or PPC, is contracting advertising programs to advertise a page. You pay a fee every time one of those advertisements is clicked and the surfer is redirected to your webpage.
SEO was, for some time, the leader in the traffic boosting technology race, as it was free and was essentially a matter of loading a page with keywords. This practice, known as “keyword stuffing,” allowed for companies to trick search engines into selecting their pages simply because of the quantity of relevant keywords, and not necessarily for the content of the page itself. One somewhat unscrupulous practice was to load the keywords into the non-visible space on the page. This would mean a visitor to the page would not notice anything out of the ordinary, but a search engine spider would be fooled by the artificially high keyword content.
Given the relative simplicity of this practice and the general knowledge of the criteria by which search engines would rank pages, companies were able to work the system to their advantage without spending any additional money. In fact, although it may take a long time for SEO to work, the cost in the beginning is essentially free. In the last several months, however, search engines such as Google have stepped up the game.
Google’s search algorithms have been changed so keyword stuffing is no longer an effective method, and companies need to focus on relevant content. This is the biggest weakness of SEO: when search algorithms change, the formatting of the page and its effectiveness by the old system are no longer meaningful, and the page could actually fall in search rankings.
PPC is the other commonly used method of boosting internet traffic. Pay Per Click campaigns are less popular for some companies because of the initial cost: companies must pay the advertisers every time someone clicks the advertisement, whether or not that click leads to a profit for the company. However, if your webpage is well-designed and your product is marketed effectively, those payments to the advertisers may be well worth the money.
PPC is fast acting, so you can quickly get a high number of page views with little effort. You don’t have to format your page in any specific way, and there is less planning and thought that needs to go into the specific content on the page. In addition, PPC is protected from any changes in search engine algorithm updates. As long as the page includes what was advertised and viewers are instructed on how to patronize your business, you will be successful.
However, if you are a small business with a more limited budget, PPC will be less effective. If your goal is simply to spread information and your page consists of no sales opportunities whatsoever, then you will likely do more harm than good with PPC. You are paying for customers to view your page, and if nothing is gained from them once the page has been viewed, it’s a wasted cost.
So, the question for all internet webpage designers is this: do you choose PPC or SEO? Which method is best for your company? Here are some questions to ask when making that decision:
- What is your website advertising budget?
- If it is high, consider PPC. Otherwise, SEO may be the way to go.
- What is the average price being paid for PPC by companies in your industry?
- If your competitors are paying a lot for PPC, chances are you will as well.
- How competitive are the keywords you wish to use in your advertising?
- If many other companies all wish to use the same keywords, you will have to pay more.
- What is your capacity for creativity and time spent developing your webpage?
- If you don’t have the time or people to devote to developing your webpage and following SEO parameters, use PPC.
- What is your time frame for turning a profit?
- If you need to make money fast, use PPC. The cost is higher, but the rewards will come more quickly. If you have time to spare, use SEO. SEO is a long term method, driving traffic organically and slowly pushing webpages to the top of internet search lists.
Of course, the best method, if you have the resources, is to use both technologies together to achieve the best results. This way, you are covered no matter how the search engine protocol or advertising rules may change. It is also important for people specializing in each method to learn from the practices of the other. This allows for the strengths of one method to offset the weaknesses of the other. They can ultimately work together to boost internet traffic to your company’s website as effectively as possible. In the competition between SEO and PPC, which one takes the gold? Well, that all depends on the race you’re running.