Nowadays, online presence for businesses is a must. Whether it be through search marketing, social media, influencer marketing or content marketing and the likes, the easiest and fastest way to reach your customers is online. With so many options and platforms to choose from it sometimes gets confusing on what online activities should business prioritize. In search marketing there are 2 main activities you can do to reach your target customers, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or Google Ads also known as Adwords or PPC (pay-per-click) advertising.
SEO is the process of optimizing one’s website for it to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPS) while Google Ads are paid advertisements that are shown in search engines (Search Ads) and articles, videos or websites that consumers browse (display ads). Google Ads are PPCs because they allow businesses or website owners to bid on chances to show ads and are only charged once someone clicks on the ad. Because these are 2 different activities that businesses can do to increase their online presence, connect to their customers and generate leads, I will take you through a framework or thought process that can help you choose how to invest your time and money online.
1. Identify Business Goals
As the saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat and this is applicable in Digital Marketing. There is no one way or formula that would work for all companies. To be able to identify which of the 2 digital marketing activities (SEO and Google Ads) you should prioritize, first is that you should clearly define your business goals. If your company’s goal is to prioritize sales, leads and acquisition then Google Ads should be your 1st activity. Most new companies or websites would also benefit from prioritizing Google Ads to start with as this delivers faster results than SEO. For companies that are looking to increase their brand awareness and want to be searchable to have a stable inflow of visitors to their website then SEO should be their priority. Certain industries or businesses such as professional services, real estate, restaurants to name a few will also benefit greatly from SEO. A simple listing on Google my business can go a long way to greatly improve your SEO. By signing up, Google will be able to identify where your business is located and will recommend your business for people searching in a specific geographical area. This will also make you searchable in other Google platforms such as Google Maps or Waze. This strategy is called local SEO (practice of optimizing your website for a specific local area).
2. Understand Target Consumer Behavior
For both SEO and Google Ads, it is important to understand your consumers’ online behavior not only to identify which activity to prioritize but also to know how to connect with them efficiently. You can understand their behavior by doing a Customer Behavior Analysis. According to hubspot.com this is qualitative and quantitative observation of how your customers interact with your company or competitors in your industry. By knowing and understanding your customers’ online behavior, you will be able to identify what are the things they search for online, what websites they visit and frequent, what social media platforms they use, what videos they watch and so on and so forth. With this, you will be able to develop a digital marketing strategy on how to connect with them which can help you decide if you can prioritize one activity over the other or do both SEO and Google Ads at the same time.
3. Decide on the level of investment and commitment
SEO is more budget-friendly in the sense that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars immediately.
However, you may need to hire an SEO expert or outsource SEO to optimize your website and be searchable.
SEO needs commitment and time, to truly optimize your website one must have commitment to continuously create relevant content to your target customers such as blogs, videos, podcasts for search engines to index your website and help you rank. Aside from that, your SEO expert or SEO agency must continue to implement technical SEO strategies to help Google recognize target keywords and search terms that your target customers are typing. Google ads on the other hand is not free, as mentioned above it uses a PPC (pay per click) model, you can bid on certain keywords or search terms and will be charged once users click on your ad. Google ads can generate leads for you faster however it will come at a cost, you may also need to hire a Google ads expert to ensure your ads are optimized to maximize your investment.
SEO and Google ads actually complement each other in many ways. Experts have always recommended using both activities at the same time to be able to better reach your target customers at critical moments during your customers’ online journey. The key to a successful SEO and Google Ads campaign is to ensure that your content in the website or in your ad is relevant to your target audience. If you are limited by some other factors such as time, budget and there is a need to choose between SEO and Google Ads, identify first your business goals, understand your customers’ behavior and decide on the level of investment and commitment you have. An SEO and Google Ads expert such as FortifySEO can help further explain to you which route is best for your objectives.