There's no doubt about it. Web promotion, internet marketing is necessary if an internet-based business is to have a fighting chance in the fast-paced and fierce competition of the cyber marketplace. It is mainly for this reason - getting people to notice and visit a web site then hopefully to buy from that website - that organic search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising have taken firm hold.
The Lay of the Land: Search Engine Supremacy
Both these web promotion strategies have one basic premise: people who use the internet usually use search engines to navigate through web pages. In fact, there are over 200 million searches performed every day using the better known search engines.
What does this mean to you? Simply put, search engines, when properly tapped, can be a significant source of traffic to your site. Organic SEO and PPC advertising are the two primary means by which webmasters tap into search engines to generate traffic for their website.
Organic Search Engine Optimization
Organic SEO refers to optimization of web pages so they would do well in organic search engine queries. An organic search engine query entails typing in a keyword or a keyword search phrase into the search bar so that the search engine can search through their indexed pages and return those that are relevant to the keyword used in the query.
For instance, if an individual is looking for information on candles, he will type in the word 'candles.' The search engine spider will now go over the pages it has in its index and return the relevant pages in the results pages. The web pages are ranked depending on relevance. The most relevant page becomes the top result.
Search engines have different standards for judging site relevance. The biggest search engine, Google (lays claim to more than 60% of the search engine users) uses keyword relevance and link popularity as its basis for ranking pages in search engine results pages.
Using the previous example then, if a page is to attain a high position in a 'candles' organic query at Google, the page will have to have enough keywords in the content and tags that pertain to candles AND it has to have enough inbound links from sites that have a high page rank rating for keywords relevant and related to candles.
To take advantage of search engine traffic generation, a webmaster must design his web pages so that they would have a high page rank when an organic query is made for his keyword category. The usual target of organic SEO is to make a page one of the top 10 results of organic queries, so it would become highly visible, which in turn increases the probability that the page will be visited.
To this end, a webmaster or an organic SEO professional rewrites a page's tags to incorporate keywords and related keywords, pictures get an alternative keyword text, titles get revamped to reflect keywords, content get rewritten to contain anchored text keywords, etc.
Building link popularity becomes a priority, too. Webmasters approach the webmasters of highly relevant pages to request link exchanges. Some sites purchase one-way links. Other webmasters visit forums, blogs and social networking sites relevant to their keyword category and post their URL or anchored keywords in these sites.
Pay-per-click advertising is an advertising scheme popularized mainly by Overture (which has been acquired by Yahoo) and Google in its sponsored ad links. Other search engines and some independent PPC companies also do pay-per-click advertising.
In true Google and Yahoo PPC advertising fashion, the advertisers (webmasters wishing to promote their website) bid for keywords. The keywords for which the webmaster bids and gets approved for becomes the trigger to showing his PPC ad in the search engine results pages.
Using the previous example, the webmaster wishing to do some PPC advertising bids and gets approved for the keyword 'candles.' Whenever an organic query for the keyword 'candles' is initiated, the webmaster's PPC ad gets shown on the right side of the first search engine results page. In Google's case in particular, the PPC ad appears under the heading 'Sponsored Links.'
When a search engine user clicks on the PPC ad, the advertiser has to pay the search engine the agreed-upon price for every click, thus the name pay per click.
Organic SEO versus PPC Advertising: Advantages and Disadvantages
Both of these web promotion strategies make use of the search engines to generate traffic to a website. However, there are differences to these two that determine which one should be used by a webmaster.
Organic SEO is technically free. Organic search engine results do not discriminate among big and small internet companies. As long as the search engine algorithm finds a page the most relevant to an organic query, then it will become the top result.
This means that a webmaster of an obscure and low-budget website can conceivably design his web page to become the top organic search engine query result. As long as he constantly revamps his site to incorporate search engine page rank rating algorithms, his page can continue to be on top of results for his keyword. He wouldn't need to pay for clicks generated from the results pages for he got them fair and square.
On the other hand, PPC advertising can amount to a considerable amount of investment, especially in the long run. Remember that you will have to pay for every click your text ad gets from the search engine results page's sponsored links section. As you very well know, some clicks will be just plain accidents and some will just be curiosity clicks. Only a very small fraction will be clicks that matter - those that will generate sales.
Thus, if a webmaster doesn't combine PPC advertising with highly persuasive copy, then he may be paying more for his advertising than he may be earning from the traffic.
If you want immediate traffic, then PPC advertising is the way to go. With PPC advertising, your website link is displayed prominently for your keyword category, so immediately after you publish your website, get hitched with Google or Yahoo for PPC advertising, you're certain to immediately get traffic from search engine users.
This is quite a big point in PPC advertising's favor, especially if you are targeting Google's users. As you probably know, in the first few months after your site gets indexed by Google, your pages are not going to be shown in the search engine results pages. Some people call it Google's sandbox; others merely call it Google's time delay. Whatever you wish to call it, the fact remains that at the first few months, your website's not going to get any Google-driven traffic.
This is the problem if you go with organic SEO. For the first few months of your site's existence, you cannot expect much traffic from search engines, especially Google.
The most effective way of maximizing search engine traffic is a two-pronged strategy involving both organic SEO and PPC advertising. To get immediate results and traffic, you'd do well to use PPC advertising. This way, Google sandbox or not, you are still going to get search engine traffic.
However, even as you are getting traffic from PPC advertising, you should not rely on PPC advertising alone. In the long-run, search engine traffic from PPC advertising is going to eat at your website's profits. Therefore, you must still implement a thorough and detailed organic SEO strategy to get your web page a higher position in the results pages of organic queries. Once this takes off and your site goes out of the sandbox, you can let your PPC advertising go, minimize your operational costs, maximize your profits and still get as much search engine traffic as you need.