Nowadays, selling products or services online is one of the most attractive ways to do business. But while it may seem an easy, cheap way to reach millions of customers at first, before long it often appears that the task ahead is going to be a difficult one. With so much competition on the web these days, and with just 10 spots on the front page of Google, making into the spotlight on the web can be a long journey that, without the help of a digital marketing agency,  many might not finish. So how should one go about building an online presence while attempting to keep costs at bay? Search engine marketing is key to boosting online traffic and this can include pay per click (PPC) or search engine optimisation (SEO). But deciding which search engine marketing strategy to implement can be crucial in determining the outcome of an online marketing campaign.

While PPC and SEO can both be effective online marketing strategies, investing heavily in both may not be an option for many who just can’t bear the costs of such a venture. So the crucial decision for many may be deciding on whether to invest in PPC, SEO, or perhaps a little of both. So how can such an important decision be made before rushing in and blowing your marketing budget before you’ve realised what you’ve got yourself into?

PPC

PPC is an effective way to quickly display your products or services to people all over the world. However, as with all things it comes with a big catch. The more traffic you get, the higher your costs become since you pay for every click through to your website. Clearly this marketing strategy must be treated with great care in order to avoid accumulating huge costs from those people just drifting about on the internet passing through sites and onwards, rarely stopping to buy or convert. So the first thing to consider when using PPC is whether your PPC campaigns are going to be watertight and rigorously constructed to keep out the drifters and suck in the buyers.

The second thing to consider is whether PPC is the right search engine marketing strategy for your specific product or service. If you’re paying every time someone clicks through to your site then you need a high proportion of click-throughs to generate sales. This means you can’t afford to have wishy-washy browsers, uncertain of what they want yet coming through to your site via AdWords. This will simply drain your budget and while producing little in return. Remember Google wants you to spend as much as possible on AdWords and so even if Google is encouraging you to use PPC with them, this strategy may not be appropriate for your product.

Expensive, long-term products such as TVs or laptops involve a long browsing time since customers want to first of all decide what they want and secondly find the best deal by checking numerous sites and browsing around. Therefore when selling products such as these, the use of AdWords must be treated with care since you might just be sucking in browsers and drifters who aren’t ready to buy. In contrast, short-term goods such as flowers may benefit from AdWords, since SEO competition may be high, and browsing time is relatively low. If someone clicks through to your site and sees the flowers they like, then they’re likely to buy them being very pleased with themselves that they’ve found such nice flowers, rather than just clicking the back button and checking for better deals elsewhere.

SEO

Organic listings on the front page of Google are what everybody wants, and it puts you in a very strong position. However, the process involved in getting to the front page can be a long and expensive one so you need to be ready to invest and be patient. This investment may be one that’s very worthwhile, especially if you’re offering a product which involves a long browsing time. However, if well-known, well-established brands are securely set on the front page then investing in SEO could be a waste of time especially with the Google algorithm perhaps giving weight to big, well-established brands. One way to check the competition you are faced with is to just analyse the top ten results for a keyword you are interested in. You can use software such as Marketing Samurai to help you with this. If the competition in fact seems fairly weak then investment in SEO could be relatively cheap and the results could be very rewarding.

One common strategy may involve kicking things off with AdWords while working away at SEO in the background. AdWords can initially give you some brand awareness and sales while your organic listings are still low. As time goes on, your investment in AdWords can go down and eventually can just be used to fill in any gaps that your SEO has not covered.

PPC or SEO?

Both PPC and SEO have their pros and cons which vary depending on your target market. Two main things to consider are competition that an SEO strategy will face, and whether the product or service you offer is best suited to a well-constructed AdWords campaign, or alternatively some investment in SEO. The use of both strategies is always an option to consider, but remember unless this is carefully monitored, costs can spiral out of control leaving you slightly dismayed and in a bit of trouble that you should have avoided.