You own a website? You want to nail that sacred first page placement on Google’s SERPs? There are a lot of people who will describe lots of ways to achieve that goal, but the reality is that there are only two ways to get there with anything approaching a reasonable investment. The first is SEO. The second is pay-per-click advertising.
If you’re reading this and you don’t know what SEO is, how the heck did you end up here? SEO means “you make your website look good to Google so that they’ll give you a high ranking on relevant searches.” The two basic sides of SEO are on-page and off-page. On-page SEO means working the keywords your targeting into your page in as many places as possible, from the Title metatag to the simple text content of the page.
Off-page SEO is the heart of most SEO companies’ days. It involves making sure that as many different websites as possible point to your website. The more popular, the more relevant, and the older the websites that point toward yours, the higher your website will rank. SEO can take weeks or months to start ranking your pages (depending on the level of competition for your chosen keywords), and has almost no ‘instant’ returns — but once the returns start coming, they keep coming almost indefinitely with very little spent to maintain that level of traffic.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, advertising is in many ways the opposite of SEO. In PPC, your website ends up as one of those “sponsored links” on Google’s searches. If someone clicks on that “sponsored link” and gets successfully through to your webpage, you pay some small amount of money. Provided you can convert enough of those visitors into sales, you can more than pay for that small cost and make a decent profit for yourself when all is said and done. Unless you hire a professional PPC management team, it can be fairly hard to turn a profit from PPC marketing; it’s a very complex marketplace.
PPC’s traffic is instantaneous. You don’t pay unless you get a visitor, so if your conversion rate is good enough, it’s virtually a sure thing. On the other hand, you never get to stop paying for PPC marketing. Unlike SEO, paying for a year of PPC leaves you with nothing except the profits you made during that year.
Which route to first page placement is right for your business? That depends on a lot of factors, of course. Ask your SEO company about the details behind each and come to a decision you’re comfortable with.