Balancing paid and organic search for brand success

30 second summary:

  • Relying on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for short-term gains and neglecting organic marketing will prove ineffective
  • Before investing any money in SEO strategy, a company needs to make sure that their website is fully optimized for the user experience
  • Once in a comfortable position, PPC advertising can be used to amplify brand reach by experimenting with new keywords
  • While short tail keywords have higher search volume, long tail keywords remain viable
  • Search results differ drastically on mobile and desktop, and mobile users have less patience, so allocate more mobile PPC advertising budget

When looking to grow a business, the importance of SEO cannot be underestimated. If people are unable to find a business, especially as ecommerce continues to become an unstoppable force, attracting customers is an impossible endeavor.

In an effort to accelerate brand awareness, an inexperienced business owner may be tempted to rely on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for quick results. However, finding the right balance between organic marketing and PPC advertising is critical to brand success.

I’ve analyzed six ways to find the perfect balance between organic marketing and PPC advertising so that any business owner can build awareness for their brand the right way.

Fully optimize your website first

Before focusing on organic or paid search for brand success, it is imperative to have a fully functional website. If a prospect has a torrid experience using a website, the chances of securing a sale drop dramatically. All the logistics of a website should be thoroughly inspected, such as the broken links, the loading time and the volume of customers that can be hosted at the same time. It is also important to avoid over-optimizing a website and using too many keywords. Keywords should be implemented in a subtle way so that the inexperienced eye never notices, otherwise they could add negative SEO value.

Trust PPC while waiting for an organic SEO improvement

While it would be great to be able to rely primarily or solely on organic marketing to increase brand awareness in the end, doing so in the beginning is next to impossible. Historically, PPC advertising has been encouraged to be used while a business is waiting for organic SEO improvements. This isn’t a license to overlook organic marketing, far from it, as the goal is to improve a company’s SEO value by initially using PPC. In the long run, the results of PPC advertising should be used to drive organic marketing efforts.

Experiment with brand-related keywords

Once in a comfortable position, a business can shift their PPC advertising strategy towards experimentation. When and when organic brand-related keywords are triggered, the corresponding PPC advertising budget can be reallocated to test new keywords, thereby amplifying total brand reach. When improving SEO value, a company must constantly explore and update its targeted keywords for organic SEO improvement. As mentioned, the results of PPC advertising should be used to inform organic marketing planning.

Focus on both short tail and long tail keywords

A short tail keyword or “main term” is a search term with one to three words covering a general topic. Landing on the first page of search engine results for short tail keywords is next to impossible due to the number of results, so even though they typically have higher search volume, long tail keywords remain important as users are more likely to be closer to a store when searching. The search for “shoe shine” would be a short tail keyword, while the search for “how to shine shoes” is a long tail keyword, as it is made up of three to five words and more focused on a specific topic. Of course, short-tail keywords will earn more searches, but a good ranking for long-tail keywords will give the company a significant advantage over competitors in the same market.

Don’t just rely on Google

Most business owners, executives and managers will be inclined to focus all their efforts on Google, and rightfully so as it is by far the largest search engine platform in the world. However, it may also be worth testing ads like Bing to see what returns are obtainable elsewhere. If the results are favorable, it might be worth splitting your SEO efforts across multiple platforms.

Use mobile PPC advertising, desktop organic marketing

Search results differ drastically on mobile and desktop. At the risk of stating the obvious, using a search engine on the desktop presents users with more results because the screen is naturally larger. Because the window of opportunity – literally the size of the search window on a smartphone – is much smaller on mobile devices, using mobile PPC advertising is critical. Additionally, mobile users are less likely to search multiple searches using different keywords, as a more patiently desktop user might.

Growing brand awareness requires a lean and focused strategy for both organic marketing and PPC advertising. Relying solely on PPC advertising might seem like an easy fix, but slowly working on organic marketing will eventually allow a company to use PPC advertising to amplify brand reach. Entrepreneurs may underestimate the importance of SEO, but its importance cannot be underlined in the ever-growing digital market.

Nick Swan is the founder of SEOTesting.

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