Once upon a time, there was a heated debate over whether SEO or PPC was the king of search success. These days, things are very different and any good search marketer will tell you it takes both to build a profitable search presence.
The truth is SEO and PPC have never been all that similar. They generate two different kinds of lead – both of which you need to maximise conversions and expand your reach. And then you have the rise of social advertising, which puts an entirely new spin on PPC.
PPC: Targeting users who are ready to buy now
We’re about to make a generalisation about PPC – and more specifically paid search (AdWords, Bing Ads, etc.). The key to advertising with these guys is their unique ability to target users who are ready to buy now. As things stand, paid search is just about the only marketing channel you can use to connect with people who are itching to click the buy button.
You’re not limited to targeting this kind of user (as we say, this is a generalisation) but there’s no other marketing channel that really delivers this kind of high-intent, purchase-ready lead. Especially in the case of AdWords.
SEO: Targeting users in search of buying advice
Once again, we’re making a generalisation here but organic search typically generates a very different kind of lead – one that PPC isn’t quite so cost-effective at generating. This is the informational side of consumer searches: things like product reviews, price comparisons and other bits of info they need in the build-up to buying a product or service.
These users aren’t ready to buy now but they do show a clear purchase intent and that makes them a valuable lead worth nurturing. You may not want to spend your ad budget on these leads, which typically take longer to convert. However, you do want to expand your reach to capture as may of these leads as possible and convert them further down the line.
Unless, of course, you’re happy to let them wander off and do business with one of your competitors when they finally do make the purchase.
No. We didn’t think so.
Social advertising: Changing the nature PPC altogether
The rise of social commerce and paid advertising with the likes of Facebook and Twitter has created a third kind of hybrid lead. These aren’t high purchase intent leads like you can generate from AdWords or even the information seekers SEO is so good at offering. In fact, social users aren’t actively searching for anything at all; they’re simply browsing through their feed until they see your ad.
So instead of targeting an active buying intent through social PPC, you’re focusing on a more branded approach. By targeting people in our area, who have shown interest in your industry or recently bought products related to your own, you get your brand seen by people who’ll be tempted by your products – even if they don’t know it yet.
So, as you can see, there’s quite a lot of difference between the kind of leads SEO and PPC typically generate. You can think of paid search as a means of targeting and converting the highest number of people who are ready to buy now. You know they’re close to buying and it won’t take much work to convince them – making them worth the initial ad spend.
SEO is more like casting a wider net to capture people who still have some buying choices to make. These leads typically aren’t as valuable as your PPC prospects but there are far more of them and you want to capture as many of these as possible. This is how you really start to grow your online business – and, if you don’t, your competitors will beat you to it.
Finally, we have the newer branch of PPC in the form of social advertising. This is generating a different kind of lead altogether: one that isn’t actively looking for anything. Instead, they have a history of interest in what your selling, which gives you a three-pronged approach to capture a wider range of potential customers than ever before.
If you would like to talk more about it, please contact me whenever you would like at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my very best to help.
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