Every business needs traffic to survive. Whether you’re a brick and mortar business or an online E-commerce business, traffic is the lifeblood of a website and unless your plan for the website is to simply serve as a brochure for people who already know about your business, you’re going to need a consistent flow of incoming traffic to get new leads.
The question is, what kind of traffic is most suitable (and affordable) for your business? Without knowing which one you should invest your time and energy towards, you’re going to be spinning in circles.
Let’s look at your options:
- Organic Traffic
– Search Engine Optimization
– Content Marketing
- Paid Traffic
– Google AdWords
– Social Media Advertising (Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads etc)
Organic Traffic – SEO
- Long-term & Sustainable. Once you’re ranked, you don’t pay for every Click.
- Builds on itself. In other words, the more you rank, the more you’re going to rank (think compound interest)
- Works well in conjunction with Content Marketing. As your website gains more authority with more links, Google starts trusting it more. And when Google trusts your website, the blog articles you publish have better chances of getting ranked for their respective keywords, thus generating even more traffic.
- Requires patience. It can take 4-6 months to start getting results from SEO, if not more.
- Requires upfront investment.
- Difficult to find an SEO agency that can actually rank websites and stay up to date with Google’s changing algorithms.
SEO is not suitable for all businesses! Most SEO companies won’t tell you this and if you ask, “Will it work for me if I do (insert literally any profession here)?” the answer is always invariably “Yes”.
In reality, however, there are certain criteria that can indicate whether an SEO campaign is going to be an ROI positive investment for you. So if you’re not sure if you should be investing in SEO, ask yourself:
- Is there a sizeable audience looking for your services online? In other words, do your main keywords have decent search volumes?
- Is the first page littered with extremely large websites? If yes, do you have the budget to go after those keywords?
- Are you financially in a position to invest potentially several thousands of dollars for months before you see an ROI?
If you’re not sure where your website stands in terms of SEO right now, use our free SEO audit tool to get an instant website analysis and comprehensive checklist delivered to your inbox!
Paid Traffic – PPC
- Instant results. If you set up your Ads properly and they are well optimized, you can start getting clicks (and hopefully, calls) within days!
- You “pay per click” which means you don’t pay unless someone has clicked over to your website.
- Google Ads can provide highly targeted traffic if they are set up properly.
- Multiple platforms at your disposal. While SEO brings you targeted traffic from search engines like Google and Bing, paid traffic allows you to get your business visible on Facebook, LinkedIn & other social media websites that would otherwise have very little organic reach.
- Bucket with a hole. The minute you stop paying Google, your traffic ceases.
- Unlike SEO, your Clicks from today don’t help you build a reputation or “trust” with Google that could help you tomorrow.
- Bidding system. Google AdWords’ pricing works on a bidding system, which means if you’re in a competitive industry, your “cost per click” might keep increasing as your competitors bid higher than your bids. Your cost per click would also vary depending on your PPC management skills.
- Pattern Interrupt Marketing: If you’re advertising on social media websites, realize that people aren’t there to shop for products or services. However, if your Ad is good enough to engage them and your product gets their attention, it could work, especially if it is an impulse purchase.
Service-based businesses or consultants are at a large disadvantage with this approach. In other words, if the purchase of your product or service requires more than a couple of minutes of thought to reach a decision, social media Ads may not be ideal for your business.
PPC can be a valuable lead-generating asset for a business IF you understand what you’re getting yourself into. Here’s what you need to know before investing in paid traffic:
- You’re never going to stop paying for clicks.
- The amount you pay for every click will vary depending on how much your competitors are bidding and how well your Ads are performing.
- You will need to hire a PPC expert to set up and manage your Ad campaigns. AdWords Express was Google’s attempt at streamlining the process but all it really does is burn through your budget by showing your Ads to people way outside your target demographic.
- Making PPC work for you is not as simple as setting up the Ad campaigns. It involves a lot of tweaking and split testing.
Organic and paid traffic both have their place. SEO and PPC can, in fact, work very well together. Technically, you can occupy a top organic spot AND an Ad spot, thus having more of the real estate on the first page and capturing more traffic.
Additionally, there are some keywords that may just not be worth going after organically but can get you Paid clicks and some additional traffic. These are keywords that may not have huge search volume (number of people searching that keyword per month) but for whatever reason, they are difficult to rank for due to the websites on the first page. In this case, considering the balance of difficulty and search volume, PPC becomes a great alternative.
So while one is not better than the other, if you only have the budget to invest in one, it depends on how fast you want the results. If you need results and sales yesterday (and you have the budget), PPC is the way to go. If you want to build a long-term stream of traffic that can build your business’ reputation and trust online, SEO is for you.