Pay per click is just as it sounds: you bid on keywords (i.e. searched phrases such as “carpet cleaning Phoenix”) so that your ad appears to online searchers. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website.
On the other hand, SEO is the science of getting your website to appear naturally because a search engine has scanned your site and determined it closely matches what the searcher is seeking. The industry term for this “close matching” is relevancy. Your website appears because it is viewed to have a high degree of relevancy to the searcher’s inquiry.
Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the great attraction of SEO is that you don’t have to pay for that click – even though you may have paid plenty to figure out how to show up in the first place. On the other hand, pay per click offers consistent and reliable exposure for a great many keywords, as many as you wish to bid on. And the relevancy of your website is not such an issue.
So which approach is the smart choice? Actually, there are strong reasons for utilizing both together. SEO alone can never be a complete solution. And pay per click leaves plenty of room to add SEO as a supplemental tool to reduce your overall cost of visits.
The reason to use both SEO and PPC lies in the nature of Internet geo-targeting and the way people search. For example, while an estimated 21,000 people a month search for carpet cleaning services in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, only about a thousand of those searches are for the specific term “Carpet Cleaning Dallas.” Many more people living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area simply search for “Carpet Cleaning” hoping to locate a cleaner servicing their area, and not realizing they’ve entered a national term that will bring up search results for “Carpet Cleaning” throughout the United States.
A Dallas carpet cleaner would need to optimize his website for “Carpet Cleaning” nationally – a very difficult if not impossible job for most local marketers – to have his natural listing appear locally for that keyword. In other words, while optimizing his website to come up naturally for the term “Carpet Cleaning Dallas” is a very viable possibility, optimizing for the more often searched term “Carpet Cleaning” is not a realistic option. For a natural listing, the local marketer is competing for attention with large national marketers, franchises and even directories and publications with their encyclopedic content and extensive links.
So you might think that pay per click is the best answer. And in that respect, it is. Pay per click let’s you bid on any keyword you like. If you’re willing to budget enough, you can be assured of being consistently visible for both “Carpet Cleaning” and “Carpet Cleaning Dallas” and thousands of other keywords as well. Search engines such as Google can assure that you’re only seen by local searchers for the national term “Carpet Cleaning” because they only show your paid ad when someone with a local IP address on their computer is searching. (An IP address identifies a specific computer and can usually be associated with the local market area of the Internet Service Provider that has assigned it.)
So why not just forget about search engine optimization altogether and rely on pay per click? Cost.
A recent check on Google showed that while the average cost per click for “Carpet Cleaning” nationally was $6.10, the average cost per click for “Carpet Cleaning Dallas” was $19.63. More precise, geo-targeted search terms can quickly get pricey. Fortunately those precise geo-targeted terms are also the ones you have a real chance to optimize.
So neither pay per click or SEO offer an ideal Internet marketing solution by itself. Working together they can deliver a better return on your Internet marketing investment and give you the consistent online exposure that is so critical to your success.