SEO 101

SEO vs. Pay Per Click advertising. I am working in an online business and trying to understand the difference between these two. Also any other online marketing and advertising tools you may know and recommend. Thanks.

– Submitted by Dina via Facebook

This is a great question for those just getting their website started.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and deals with how to maximize your website for ranking high on search engines like Google for the key words your perspective customers use to search for companies in your industry. Search engines have devised complicated algorithms to analyze the content of websites and rank their importance for the search terms used.

Search engine optimization factors can be divided into two categories: on-site and off-site SEO. On-site site SEO factors include the following (and more):
1. Content is king. Nothing is more important to a website and ultimately the visitors to that website than the content on the site. Makes sense right?
2. Title of specific pages are extremely important,
3. H1, H2, H3 (heading) tags in a page inform search engines of the main topics on the page.
4. Search engines like it well coded websites because they load faster and are more user-friendly
5. Well named images and use of “Alt Tag” are also more appealing factors (both to your readers and search engines).

Some of the off-site SEO factors include:
1. Links from other sites to yours with specific keywords. For example linking the word “Click Here” to a dealership website is not as valuable as “Dallas Audi Dealership” linked to the same site.
2. Social media coverage and activeness of the site show how community oriented the site is.

All of that said, keep in mind that SEO can be a more complicated issue. There are many more smaller factors such as age of the site, owner of the site, frequency of fresh content, and more that you must consider if competing for very competitive keywords.

Remember, the goal of search engines is to present the best information that matches the needs of the user. Google doesn’t know about how delicious your cupcakes are or how amazing our hookahs are (in the case of Social Smoke) but it definitely can analyze these key issues so get them right to have a fighting chance.

Photo by Katia Delgado

Pay Per Click or Pay Per Impression
Pay-Per-Click or Pay-Per-Impression (PPC or PPI respectively) refers to advertising done via banners and/or links that are placed on websites linking back to your website for a fee. (Figuring out how to offer this service made Google really rich) In PPC advertising you are charged if someone actually clicks on a banner, and in PPI adverting you are charged for every time your ad is actually shown on the page.

Websites that host PPI or PPC ads usually run programs to rotate through various banners and keep track of the impression and clicks of each ad they are running.

There are some benefits to this form of marketing.
1. People don’t have to click on your ad to see it, which will help to grow brand awareness.
2. It can provide immediate results.
3. You’re in control on how much you want to spend on this form of advertising and you’re able to track this in near real time.
4. Ability to target a specific geographic area

Keep in mind that in PPC advertising the most vital part is keyword research and choosing the right battle to fight. Some keywords get a lot of traffic but are not ultimately specific enough to actually get conversions. Here is an example to illustrate this point: Say you’re looking for ideas on garage organization. You might start off your internet search by typing: organization ideas which will pull up tons of sites. You’ll probably go through a few of the sites looking for garage organization and then realize that you should of search for garage organization. Your new search results in a ton of other websites where you learn about over head storage ideas, hanging cabinets, and wire shelves. Ultimately you decide that you want to get hanging cabinets so you do another search for garage hanging cabinets which results in a ton of more websites with exactly the item you’re looking for. In this case you search through the sites comparing prices and ultimately make a purchase. IF you owned a website that was using PPC or PPI marketing to get traffic it would have been a huge waste to spend a lot of money to rank high for the search term organization ideas when in reality that key word is the first thing people think of but will actually use more specific keywords like garage hanging cabinets. It’s essential that you understand this principles when creating a PPC or PPI campaign based on search engine results.

Non SEO and PPC/PPI Website Marketing Ideas
Besides PPC and PPI you can always work deals with website owners to host your ad (either banner or text link) for a flat fee per month. This is something we have done in the past with Social Smoke and have been happy with the results. You can also work with website owners to review and demo your products and write or video their experience. This is extremely helpful because bloggers tend to be trusted by their regular readers so if they find something they like and share it with their readers you can expect to see an increase in traffic to your site.

Any form of advertising only makes sense if it ultimately results in a net positive for your business, and figuring that out is the hard part. Make sure you monitor the traffic generated from your advertisement sources, and if possible also the sales generated from those that land on your website from the advertising. With tools like Google Analytics you’re able to track the traffic to your site and see if those referral links or banners that you’re paying for are having an impact. If they aren’t as effective as you thought you’ll be able to change courses before spending a small fortune.

Many thanks to my friend and SEO guru, Nima Heydarian, for helping me with this post.

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