I have a new client that has come to me with a website that is under performing. Where should she put her scarce resources – into search engine optimisation (SEO), or pay per click advertising (PPC)?

Her objective: she needs clients now. But she also wants to grow her business over the medium term.

SEO and PPC have their relative strengths, and as always this is a case of weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.

I’d recommend she kicks off with PPC:

  • it’s immediate: she’ll instantly start ranking well in the search engine results
  • it’s a great learning tool: she’ll have evidence of specific phrases that are working well for her business, and she can use these phrases to guide her SEO strategy
  • it’s measurable: she can track which clicks have converted to enquiries
  • it’s flexible: she can tweak her ads, turn them on, turn them off, test and learn
  • it’s dynamic: she can test phrases that she doesn’t have time to incorporate into her website

But of course, there are drawbacks to PPC:

  • it’s expensive: she’ll need relatively deep pockets to compete in her market space
  • it’s ephemeral: turn off the ads, then her rankings disappear in a puff of smoke
  • it’s advertising: how many of you actually click on the little ads on the right in Google?
  • it’s subject to click fraud: (ed: allegedly subject to click fraud)

And we are working on her SEO campaign in tandem with her PPC, and I’m confident it will all workout well.

The benefits of SEO:

  • After initial investment, the dividends in improved rankings are virtually free
  • Searchers trust the organic results more than the paid-for ones
  • Creating SEO friendly content delivers the additional benefit of human-friendly content, indeed also should be more accessible content

And the drawbacks of SEO:

  • It’s a lot of work. And I mean a whole lotta work
  • If you have an existing site, it could mean a significant rebuild which costs time and money
  • There are no such thing as a guarantee. All your work may lead to disappointing results if you operate in a highly competitive market.

It’s all a matter of balance to meet her business objectives.

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