While outbound marketing casts a wide net to any who might be interested, inbound marketing takes a different approach.   The idea with inbound marketing is that there are people and businesses out there interested in your goods and services and they are looking for you.  They are using Google, Bing, and other search engines to find you.  Inbound marketing seeks to make your business easier to find for those searching.  This is in sharp contrast to the outbound marketing approach, broadcasting your services to the whole neighborhood or country or world.

In order to appear in Google search results, your business will almost certainly need a website.  Not just any website; your business needs an attractive and compelling website.  While some businesses do not need a website to conduct their business, in order to be found on the internet, you need a website.  The nature and content of the website must appeal to your customers and to the search engines as well.  The message of your website must be consistent with the goods and services you provide.  It is important to the human reader that the site be appealing and compelling.

For being found in Google, it is even more important to be attractive to the technology.  How to appeal to search engines?  The search algorithms take many factors into account when ranking the results.  They look at the actual content; that is, what the site declares itself to be.  But gone are the days when Google believed a website based solely on what it said about itself.

Search engines have evolved to look beyond the content. They consider relevance of one site over another based on the number and quality of other sites that link back to the site.  They look at text-to-image ratios to ensure that a site is not just pictures nor is it just text.  Google has figured out that the best websites have some magical (read “proprietary”) ratio of text-to-images and therefore, ranks sites close to that ratio higher than others.  Google gives priority to sites which are mobile friendly and those which load quickly.  The age of a domain and the frequency of content updates are also part of the proprietary equation.

It is challenging for a small business to rank on or near page 1 in the search engine results page (SERP) when they are competing with the whole world and the whole internet.  But that’s where a site needs to be if it will generate sales for the company.  The goal of inbound marketing is to drive high-quality, relevant traffic to your site.  The best way to get those people who are looking for your business to your website is to be on the first one or two pages of Google search results.

The two primary ways of landing on page 1 of Google search engine results are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC).  They are both similar and different at the same time.  They are similar in that they work to get you as high on the search engine results list as possible.  They are different, vastly different, in the way they accomplish this task.

SEO makes your site more visible to those looking for your business by making your site appear more relevant when certain keywords are entered into a search engine.  The factors mentioned above, as well as many, many others are all part of the process of search engines finding websites relevant to specific search terms entered by the user.  “Organic search” is used to describe where a website appears in a search engine result naturally; on its own merits, according to the proprietary Google algorithm.

Google has developed an extraordinary level of customer satisfaction and expectation through its search engine.  The rules used by Google are there for an enhanced customer experience.  We trust the Google search results as much as we trust the brakes in our cars and the bridges that we drive on.  We assume the brakes will work and the bridges will stand.  If our search does not yield a result on the first 2-3 pages, we either change the way we are searching, or we assume that what we are seeking does not exist.  Gone are the days when people would dig deep into 20+ pages of search engine results.

PPC, on the other hand, is simply paying Google to go to the front of the line.   So, all the work of building a website that meets Google’s standards as described above is out the window.  Google has developed this masterpiece of search only to offer the chance to buy your way around it.  This is why sometimes the ads which appear at the top of the search engine results are not necessarily the best websites for your search.  If an entry in the search results has the telltale “Ad” box next to the item, you know someone paid to put it there.

Which is better, either Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay-Per-Click (PPC)?  There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question.

SEOPPC
SEO takes a while, sometimes several months or even more than a year to get on or close to page 1.PPC can get you on page 1 tomorrow.
SEO produces organic (natural) results that tend to be trusted more than sponsored results.PPC has the telltale “Ad” marker which some people automatically dismiss, thereby limiting your audience of potential customers.
SEO can be subject to changes in the Google search algorithm and your site can move up or down in the rankings based on the algorithm changes; it is somewhat beyond your control.PPC is fairly predictable and reliable, as long as your ad budget is available.
SEO usually takes longer to see results, but the results persist, even if SEO activities are reduced.PPC has a fast start and just as fast an end; when the ad budget is spent, the ads stop appearing and your site is once again invisible.

 

Which is better?  It depends on the marketing goals of the business.  It is not necessarily an “either/or” decision.  A blended campaign which uses PPC to get on page 1 and at the same time does the slow and steady work of SEO.  When the SEO results start to show, you can reduce or eliminate your PPC spending.  Some businesses continue to do both.  Sometimes you can see their website in the search engine results on page 1 right below their paid ad.  That is one sure way to know that a company has done both search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.

While it can be an overwhelming and daunting task to prepare an online marketing strategy for your business, relax!  Landau Consulting is here to help and guide you through the steps and help you determine what is your best course of action.  You have already completed the first step of reading this long article.  Next step:  Call us!