PPC or SEO for Your Small Business?
PPC or SEO for your small business?
I get asked this question by people that manage small companies all the time, and it’s a valid question for small business owners. There is a lot of confusion around this.
For those of you afflicted with short attention spans, I’m going to give you the short answer in a moment. But, first, before we go any further, does everyone know what PPC and SEO are?
Hmmm, I thought so. Some confused looks in the audience.
Okay – here we go. PPC stands for pay-per-click, and the most common example of PPC is when you (or some company you’ve hired to do this for you) pays Google to make an ad for your watch repair business show up on the very first page of the search results that are generated when someone types in “watch repair” in the Google search bar in or around the city you’re in. When your ad is shown to the searcher, and that person clicks on your ad, then Google takes some money from your company credit card. Every click on your ad costs you money. It’s quick to set up, it provides quick results, but it isn’t cheap, and as soon as you stop advertising, the leads dry up immediately (as if someone turned off a faucet).
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and this happens when copy and/or content on your company is a match for whatever search terms are put into the search bar. To use the same example of the watch repair business, if you have a website that mentions “watch repair” quite a few times, and you have posts on your website blog about watches and watch repair, and you have links regarding watch repair from other sites to your site, and you have comments from people on your website saying what a great job you did repairing their watch, well, then, you’re going to definitely show up in the Google search results when someone types in “watch repair”. And none of this costs you any money when the person clicks on your business in the search result, because they’re not clicking on an ad, they’re clicking on a match that Google gave them off their search term. But, this isn’t quick to set up, and the results take a quite a while to build. But, it’s much cheaper in the long run, and since nothing goes away on the internet, the effect is extremely long-lasting.
What’s the short answer for your business? Do you go for the big hit, spend a lot of money on PPC, and hope you get enough business off the PPC activity to pay for the ads, and, make a little money? You could go broke quickly that way. Or do you go slow and steady, and build up your SEO capabilities, and hope the business can hold on and not go under before your SEO efforts start showing some results? You could wither away slowly that way.
What’s the best balance of PPC and SEO?
Now, here is the short answer that is generally true: If you’re the only provider of a business or service in the area where you live, you can probably skip the PPC. As an example, let’s say that you have a typewriter repair service in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Not many people use typewriters anymore, and the ones that do use typewriters, use those cheap plastic kind. If those typewriters break, they just go buy another cheap plastic typewriter. I haven’t looked, but there probably isn’t a typewriter repair service in Fort Lauderdale, so if you had one, there wouldn’t be any need to pay for PPC ads, because your typewriter repair shop would be the only result (from SEO) that Google would show if someone typed in “typewriter repair Ford Lauderdale”. Heck, you might be the only result for “typewriter repair” for all of South Florida, including Miami, in Google search.
On the other hand, if you have a shop that specializes in fixing Toyotas, and you’re in Fairfax, Virginia, you have a tremendous amount of competition. For competition, you have Toyota dealers, dozens and dozens of other independent repair shops, you have the chains like Goodyear, Merchants Tire, Midas Muffler, AAMCO Transmissions, and then you have other players like Sears Auto Care. Most of them have bigger budgets and much better brand names than you, and you can’t realistically expect to push them aside on Google in terms of advertising. But, you also can’t expect your SEO efforts to pay off anytime soon, because they’ve all got big websites, and your SEO is going to have to grow through content (i.e. blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc.), and that is going to take a long time.
You have to do both PPC and SEO simultaneously. You have to spend what you can afford on PPC to get business now, and you have to spend on SEO (this is like a savings account) so that you can get business in the future without having to spend outrageous amounts of money on PPC. You can’t beat the big boys (or even the medium-sized boys) on PPC – it will never happen. But you can maintain a presence in PPC while you’re working like a beaver on SEO. Because you can beat your competitors on SEO. So, you do both at the same time.
Now, I just want to reiterate at this moment that there are a lot of nuances to the answer that’s exactly right for your specific business. These are the answers that are usually right for most small businesses.
As you may know, we also do business consulting here at Sareen and Associates, and we’d be happy to give you exactly the right answer to this question in terms of your business. Just give us a call. And we hope the above information was informative and helpful.