When you pay for top ranking in the "Sponsored" are from a search engine, this is called "pay-per-click" (PPC) search engine advertising (or PPCSE). Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Advertising allows you to quickly get top search engine placement by "bidding" (paying) for keywords related to your product or service.
"Organic" or "Natural" search engine optimization (SEO) is accomplished by optimizing your web pages, adding keyword rich content and by increasing your "link popularity" by acquiring or paying for links that point to your web site. This gives you high rankings at the Search Engines for your chosen search terms.
Promoting your internet business can be a tough task. The costs of traditional advertising are prohibitive. It can cost as much as $50,000 to run a print advertisement in a prominent publication. It can cost much more than that to produce and run a TV commercial, especially if the commercial airs during peak viewing hours. Online marketing is a problem too, because it is extremely difficult and takes a long time to climb to the top of the search engine rankings.
So, what should you do? Well, you will need to do rely on the same thing all internet businesses do when they first start out. Of course, we are talking about pay-per-click (PPC). By advertising with pay-per-click, you pay a certain price per click to be listed near the top of the first page of the search engines for your chosen keyword or phrase. Every time someone clicks on your PPC ad, you pay for that click.
If you have never used PPC before or do not know what it is, perform a search on any search engine and you will notice that at the top or to the side of the search results you will see a section called "sponsored links." These are web sites that are paying a certain amount per click to be listed there.
This article explains the strengths and weaknesses of both methods of search engine marketing.
"Natural" Search Engine Optimization
The biggest misconception about natural search engine marketing is that it's easy and can happen quickly. The price you pay is determined by how competitive your keyword phrases are and how many other sites you have to climb above. If your domain name has just been recently purchased and hasn't been on the Internet for long, you can expect to wait a minimum of six to nine months before the major search engines like Google even consider picking your site up unless you take some aggressive steps to get your site indexed right away.
Yet still, natural search engine optimization usually gives you a much higher return on investment than pay per click. This is true for two main reasons:
- More searchers click the natural search engine results versus the pay per click ads, so you'll get much more traffic for less.
- One of the biggest factors to improving your rankings with natural search engine optimization is by boosting your "Link Popularity" by acquiring or paying for links that point to your web site. These links give you lasting results by giving you top rankings and traffic from the search engines. Plus, the links themselves will provide a significant boost in long term traffic.
With that said, the biggest weakness of natural search engine optimization is the time required to generate links and "tweak" your web pages and keywords to get those prized high rankings you so desire. It can literally take 3 months or more to finally enjoy the benefits of your search engine optimization campaign.
Pay Per Click Search Engine Advertising
The biggest benefit of pay per click is the fact that it will provide you with an immediate boost of qualified visitors, lead and sales giving you fast results within just hours or days. In fact, a pay per click advertising program is your best option if you seek fast results and a good return on investment while you are waiting for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program to "ramp up."
Depending on your traffic goals, you can budget $100 or $100,000. PPCSEs also give you the added benefits of being able to quickly test your web site and track your conversion rates (leads, opt-ins, and sales) and turning keywords (visitors) on and off easily.
PPC can be very expensive depending upon what keyword you want to receive clicks for, but there are ways to budget your money wisely so you can maximize the effectiveness of your PPC marketing campaign without having a ton of money to spend. Some of the companies at the top of the sponsored links section might be bidding up to $20 per click for certain keywords. Insurance companies such as Geico and Progressive often bid up to $25 per click for the keyword "auto insurance."
However, for most keywords, you can bid relatively low and still get a lot of clicks. Each PPC service has a traffic calculator that tells you how many clicks you will receive given a certain bid price and daily budget. So, if you want to spend $0.50 per click, you can put that bid into their traffic calculator and it will tell you how many clicks you can expect to receive at $0.50 per click and how much that will cost per day. The traffic calculator will also tell you what your position will be (the higher your bid price, the higher your position will be within the sponsored links section for that keyword).
There are several PPC programs that you can use to receive traffic. There is Google Adwords (spans several engines, including Jeeves, AOL, and Google), Overture (Yahoo and other engines), Miva, and many others. They are all reliable, and they will all deliver traffic to your web site.
The most important part of PPC advertising is knowing what keywords or phrases to bid on. You have to remember that most people using a search engine are only looking for information, and are not seeking to buy a product or service. So, if you are using PPC to get traffic to your web site in order to sell something, make sure you bid on a keyword that will bring you customers who are looking to make a purchase and are not there just to glean information.
For example, if you are selling attorney services on your web site, and you bid on the keyword "medical malpractice", you are going to receive a lot of traffic from people who visit your web site merely to read what is there, because they are probably just looking for information about medical malpractice laws and do not want to pay for your services. Instead, you should bid on the phrase "Denver medical malpractice attorney" or "Denver medical malpractice lawyer". In this manner, you will only receive qualified traffic from people that are looking to retain your services, which will increase your sales and allow you to get more bang for your marketing buck.
So, as a short term strategy pay per click gives you the clear advantage over SEO. But, the disadvantage is the cost involved. Depending on the market demand for your keywords and clicks, your PPCSE campaign can generate tons of traffic and can cost hundreds, even thousands per day. With various optimization strategies you can lower your costs, but over the long term natural search engine optimization will give you a higher return on your marketing dollar.