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With the power of search engine optimization (SEO), it is possible to shape your business website. You can dominate search engine results pages (SERPs) for queries related to your business. In other words, when people search for businesses like yours, your business is the first to appear.
The landscape of search engines and search engine results has evolved significantly over the past decade. Organic search results aren’t the only thing you should consider. If you want to get the most out of your search engine optimization campaign, the perfect complement might be pay per click ads (PPC ads). But what exactly are these ads and what is the best way to use them to complement your SEO strategy?
Related: Is SEO or PPC Better for Your Business?
What are PPC ads?
As the name suggests, pay-per-click ads require the advertiser to pay only for people who actually click on the ad. This is instead of charging based on impressions or a flat rate for listing the ad in the first place. If you place an ad with a CPC (cost per click) $1.50 and you get 1,000 clicks, you’ll end up paying $1,500 for the ad, in total.
Both Google and Bing have strong PPC advertising platforms. You can also buy PPC ads through social media platforms like Facebook. However, Google remains the most popular and notable source of PPC ads.
With that in mind, why are PPC ads such a great addition to an existing SEO strategy?
Related: 9 Mistakes Killing Your Pay-Per-Click Advertising Success
Weaknesses of SEO
Let’s start by looking at SEO weaknesses and how PPC ads can complement them.
- Startup time: SEO takes a long time to start. Even in the best of times, with enough resources to work with. It will take you several weeks to deploy enough content, on-site optimization changes, and backlinks to support your domain growth. Beyond that, it could take months of effort before you start building momentum in the SERPs. On the other hand, you can start immediately with a PPC ad campaign. As soon as you start paying, your brand can be seen.
- Unreliability: Unfortunately, SEO is a bit unpredictable. This is partly due to the fact that Google does not publish its algorithm and does not often announce new algorithm changes. This industry is also complex due to the amount of competition involved. Even if you do everything perfectly, it’s possible that an update from Google or a tricky competitor will interfere with your efforts. You can always keep up with competition and technical changes in the world of PPC. But at the end of the day, you know you’ll only pay for the clicks you actually generate.
- Lack of visibility and control: Search optimizers often feel like they don’t have much visibility or control. You need to do some research to understand how your rankings are changing. And, you will always be in the dark about the Google search algorithm. But in the PPC world, data is much more available and much more transparent, fueling better decisions and better results.
We also have to recognize that PPC ads also have some weaknesses. It turns out that SEO in turn complements these weaknesses:
- The learning curve: with PPC ads, there is a significant learning curve. A hobbyist can learn how to place an ad in minutes. But if you want to see better results, target an audience, and ultimately beat your competition, you’ll need to learn a lot more. In contrast, the fundamentals of SEO can realistically be learned in the space of an afternoon. And you can start writing content for your SEO strategy right away.
- Higher costs: It is difficult to directly compare the costs of SEO and PPC advertising, as they are fundamentally different strategies. However, in some ways PPC is more expensive. On a large scale, SEO is a frugal, self-contained engine capable of fueling your business with the smallest inputs. PPC ads will always be somewhat expensive, especially if you are in a competitive industry.
- Limited scalability: PPC ads are difficult to scale other than placing more ads with more people. But in the world of SEO, the scalability is virtually endless.
- Audience targeting: In an SEO strategy, it’s hard to tell exactly who you’re targeting. You can do keyword research and analyze the demographics of your target audience. But you can’t reach a hyper-specific audience segment without tools like those found in PPC ad campaigns.
Related: How to Implement Pay-Per-Click the Right Way
Towards an omnichannel approach
PPC ads and search engine optimization have excellent synergy, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. But these are not the only strategies with this form of synergistic value. In fact, most marketing strategies have the potential to work together and enhance each other’s results. This is why the omnichannel approach has become so popular in recent years. When crafting a better strategy that uses both PPC ads and SEO elements, keep an omnichannel philosophy in mind.