The global crisis has thrown the economy in disarray and left many things uncertain. As a UK business owner or a decision maker in a company, you might have to make some difficult choices in order to give your business a better chance at getting through the lean times.
You may not want to quit your United Kingdom PPC and SEO service marketing endeavours altogether, but with money tight you might be considering trimming the department’s operations somewhat.
So, which one gets the honour of remaining on the budgeting roster? Which one will give you more value during the pandemic and which one can you afford to cut as an austerity measure during the global crisis: SEO or PPC?
Search Engine Optimisation vs. Paid Ads
To start off, let us define what Paid Ads or PPC does right for your campaign during the global crisis, along with its various weaknesses. Then we will mosey over to Search Engine Optimisation or SEO’s various contributions to your pandemic-response digital marketing goals as well as list its shortcomings.
PPC, otherwise known as pay-per-click or paid advertising, is a digital marketing model wherein a pre-set fee is charged for each time an ad is clicked.
Search engine advertising, which you usually see at the top and along the sides of searches on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, is one of the most popular forms of PPC. It enables advertisers to bid for ad placements on sponsored links, quickly securing websites visits whenever a user searches for a relevant keyword.
Pay-per-click advertising is a faster and simpler way of driving traffic compared to trying to earn user visits organically. If the campaign works properly, it could be highly profitable as well.
Not only can you significantly increase your initial investment by converting a lead, but Google charges your campaign less per click if it detects that your ads and landing pages offer high value to users.
When you use PPC, prioritise learning how to get it right.
What goes into a well-organised, intelligently targeted PPC campaign?
- Research and select keywords that are most relevant to your business
- Organise said keywords into practical ad groups and campaigns
- Set up corresponding landing pages to feed the user into your verticals
- Optimise content for conversions
There is a catch to the relative ease you can generate website traffic, naturally. Pay-per-click activity is all bottom of the funnel advertising. That means, in the rush to secure high-value clicks, the creation and reinforcement of a relationship between the brand and the consumer is left by the wayside.
When the economy is doing fine, a company can make a sale and earn just fine. But when a pandemic sends entire economies spinning and paid ads budgets drying up, businesses might wake up to the nasty realisation that they have no fallback set in place to nurture an audience that craves messages of security, continuity, and hope and calm.
To offset the weakness of a paid ad model, businesses have to supplement it with another strategy that can nurture their target audience overtime so as to shield themselves from demand fluctuations and volatile consumer behaviour in times of crisis like this.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a digital marketing method that involves improving a website’s design and content in order to make it rank higher on the search engine results page for relevant product and service keywords or phrases. Website owners, especially business owners, who optimise their sites can expect an uptick in visibility in ‘organic’ or unpaid traffic.
What are the benefits of keeping a well-oiled SEO campaign running right now?
- Bigger share of traffic from possible channels - search engine optimisation has always had the biggest potential to generate traffic. With campaigns pulling out due to the uncertainty of the times, that share might continue to grow.
- Long-term traffic equity - the results of your optimisation investment, given that you do it correctly, can persist for years after the global crisis.
- Naturally improves UX (user experience) - this naturally follows an optimisation campaign. Websites will be better structured, making it more navigable, and the content they contain will serve the evolving needs of the user.
- Top-of-mind recency from fresh and re-optimised content - while it may not immediately lead to conversions, continuing to publish helpful and rich content during the pandemic keeps your brand on the minds of your consumers.
- Authority on the industry - you have the unique opportunity to develop your brand voice as something beyond the product or service it represents right now. Do so by being a compassionate authority ready to help people rather than a salesperson looking to make a quick sale.
- Local and global reach - with a lot of people now depending on online channels to meet their needs, you have a prime opportunity to reach out to both a local and international audience with search engine optimisation.
- Search goes both ways - while optimising your website makes you discoverable to your user, it also works the other way. Search data is a goldmine for insights on shifting customer behaviours, which you can use to create even more high-value content for them.
The drawbacks of focusing on a purely SEO campaign
As was mentioned, search engine optimisation is a useful tactic to use as part of your evolving pandemic response strategy:
- You can protect your brand and online reputation, consumer relationships, and even the demand for your products and services.
- Staying on top of the rapidly developing situation gives you more leeway on how to adjust your strategies and brand messaging.
- Ultimately, search data can help you position your brand for the possible conditions down the line.
They are, however, mostly geared towards long-term or future-facing prospects. If you want to get to that point in the future, you will have to survive the present.
And unless you are an essential industry or are part of the news/media industry, you could be in hot water because organic traffic and conversions are down in most industries. You will need some way to support the optimisation efforts on your site; a targeted plan that will bring high-value leads in; hopefully, one that can do it quickly.
Something like PPC advertising.
With the global crisis obligating many business owners to adapt to this new normal, businesses need to reevaluate their paid search and content optimisation strategies to see how they can be used to support one another to drive short- and long-term traffic as well as generate conversion in a hybrid strategy.
Key takeaways on the comparison between SEO and PPC
As it has hopefully become clear, SEO and PPC, though considered under the same umbrella of digital marketing, are two completely disparate matters. Paid ads do not directly affect search rankings, and rankings will not play a critical role to the little gears that determine how your PPC campaign turns out.
Their end goals are the same, but the manner in which they draw traffic and generate leads for your business have some fundamental differences.
What they do have in common, however, is how they support one another, especially with the current circumstances. Paid strategy brings out the quick ROI wins by driving users to your best content, while organic search props up paid ads in the long-run.
The idea of cutting one from your overarching strategy due to the pandemic might be attractive due to the one-time savings and profit boost you get, but it is only a temporary solution. You risk longer-term profitability with such a decision. This is because you cannot expect the remaining tactic to pick up the marketing slack and deliver the results that the other would have generated otherwise.
In fact, a Google study concluded that approximately 89% of traffic generated by paid ads were not replaced by their ranking organic counterparts.
This is the truth of the matter: the methods that characterise an SEO and a PPC campaign as you have seen are quite different from one another. There is a reason for that: they were created to compliment and compensate for the gaps left in the technique of its counterpart.
The case for a hybrid SEO-PPC marketing strategy
Here is a hot take: Be a rockstar. Aspire to have it all — or at least just when your digital marketing strategy is involved.
Do not make yourself choose between search engine optimisation and pay-per-click advertising. Either way, it will be your business taking a loss and bearing the brunt of the impact. What you need to do instead is to reevaluate your marketing goals, dip down on what you really want, and devise a customised hybrid SEO-PPC marketing plan to suit your needs.
What is hybrid marketing?
A hybrid SEO-PPC strategy, as its name suggests, is a digital marketing tactic that makes use of a combination of search engine optimisation services and paid ads solutions to draw traffic and generate leads. The strategy allows you to maximise your online budget and get your desired results by playing off on the strengths of each campaign.
The blended strategy was already a highly recommended course of action before the pandemic broke out, but it is now more important than ever for the following reasons:
- A strong, long-term SEO foundation, one that has been nurtured overtime and sustained with high-value content, always pays off in the long run. Applied to our specific circumstances these days, optimisation strategy continuity will no doubt give you a headstart on recouping businesses losses once the economy swings into recovery.
Moreover, the long, rich, and optimised content you create at the moment will also serve to draw in more clients so you continue having a source of revenue even when your industry is struggling to adapt to the change.
- Paid campaigns are a major source of uncertainty right now, as most of its trends are in flux. However, an agile and dedicated eye stands to make this campaign profitable as, compared to SEO, it is not as labor- or cost-intensive to run.
If you pay attention to the trends and where the market is shifting, you can bid on new keywords strategically and experience quick wins with regards to gaining a significant share of the market, generating leads, and bolstering conversions while competitors are out.
- SEO and PPC are not two disparate disciplines that will not suffer from the lack of the other. They work best when they feed off the strengths of the other — there is no reason you need to execute them exclusively. The concept of a hybrid campaign, therefore, allows you to cover most, if not all, your bases during the pandemic.
Remember that with most of your clients staying at home to practice social distancing, screen time has increased dramatically; those same users are turning online to find alternatives to meet their needs for various products and services. To learn more about the matter get in touch with us.
How to organise a hybrid SEO-PPC campaign
Now is the time to boost your efforts on both ends of the digital marketing spectrum. But how does one go about achieving that? How can you customise your blended campaign to maximise returns?
1. Get your SEO and PPC team working together, stat! Sharing resources and findings yields more accurate consumer behaviour data which you can use to gain a deeper understanding on how they are interacting with your brand, as well as what is making them stay and what is making them leave your website.
The data will be invaluable in helping develop a streamlined and highly efficient digital marketing campaign for as long as the global crisis goes on.
2. Revisit your keywords. We have seen how the pandemic turned everything sideways. So you can expect what was considered normal search behaviour and trends a week or even a day ago to be unreliable.
Keep an eagle eye out every day on where the wind is blowing keywords-wise. With both SEO and PPC rather dependent on keywords, you will be using your data to inform both campaigns: which trends to target, how to project traffic growth and drive qualified conversions, and how to make the most of long tail search.
Focus on the following success determiners to ensure your PPC ads have the best chance to do well:
- Creative ad copy - offer high-value and timely content that get clicks
- Google’s Quality Score rating - covers keywords, landing pages, and overall PPC campaigns. Higher scores get more ad links for a discounted price from the search engine
- Keyword relevance - includes lists, keyword groups, and ad text
- Landing page quality - must be geared to answer specific search queries and persuasive CTAs
3. Promote your SEO content using a PPC remarketing strategy in the UK. If you are already doing content marketing and optimisation and have several pieces of content that has done well, then half of this battle is won. Pick out your star performance — those that were received well by your target audience across social media platforms — and promote it using PPC advertising.
Remarketing strategies work particularly well because it gives you the opportunity to reach out to more of your targeted audience (paid ad campaign) with readily available content that has proven its value to your readership overtime (SEO and content marketing campaign).
Doing this significantly increases the potential to earn positive ROI. Here are some ideas on how to remarket your content on different platforms:
- Boost feature on facebook to run targeted campaigns for higher, more intentional engagement. In the long run, you build up ‘organic’ traffic equity.
- B2B sectors can use LinkedIn Sponsored Updates on their company page to advertise their best content similar to the way it is done on Facebook’s Boost.
- Perfect headlines you will be using on LinkedIn campaigns with the help of Twitter’s Promoted Tweets.
What utilising a hybrid SEO-PPC campaign can do for you
Launching digital marketing campaigns — which combine the strengths of organic and paid ads strategies to make technical site improvements and hit marketing goals and ROI targets — is your best bet for traffic and conversion during the pandemic.
- Increase search engine presence
- Reach previous visitors
- Recover clicks and lost interest in the SERPs using PPC
- PPC lets you test new keywords for SEO
- Get more data for smarter decision-making
The battle between SEO and PPC supremacy does not exist. They are simply two methods of drawing in global traffic and traffic from the United Kingdom that you can convert. Instead of pitting their pros and cons against each other, savvy business owners and marketers should be looking into the advantages of utilising their strengths together.
For more information on how to integrate some crucial tweaks to your digital marketing campaign to keep it up and running while competitors pull out of the game to gain big wins both in the short- and long-run, then download our free kit.