Search engine marketing (SEM) is the primary method of driving traffic online for the majority of businesses. According to Forrester Research, on average 73% of website visits originate from a search engine. If you haven’t tapped in yet, search marketing is a massive opportunity – and even if you are already making use of SEM, there are always way to improve your results.
Let’s take a look at the two main types of of search marketing: paid and organic. We’ll also look at the third factor which will determine the effectiveness of both strategies: the conversion rate of your website.
Paid Search Engine Marketing – PPC (Pay Per Click)
Most New Zealand business owners have heard of Google Adwords, even if they haven’t used it. If you’re not familiar with this type of search engine advertising, here’s a graphic to show you what we’re talking about.
Those yellow results at the top of the search engine results page are paid ads. So are the ones at the very bottom of the page, and those down the right hand side.
So how does this work? As you might guess from the name Pay Per Click, you only incur a cost for this advertising when someone clicks on your ad. That makes it quite attractive from an ROI standpoint, compared to certain types of broadcast advertising (where you’re paying for impressions, regardless of whether the people seeing your ad are even target customers).
The placement of ads is determined by a few things. One is an auction system – if you want to show up for, say ‘red shoes,’ you will have to place a bid on the keyword. Your placement on the page is based largely on your bid – but that’s not all there is to it. Google also dishes out a Quality Score for each keyword you’re targeting. This score is calculated based on factors like the relevance of your ad and landing page to the keyword you’re bidding on.
Your ‘ranking’ for PPC advertising is based on a combination of your bid and your Quality Scores. So in other words, if you want to pay less per click, you’ll need to optimise your campaign to keep Quality Scores as high as possible.
The biggest advantage of PPC: you can get onto Page One on Google immediately, as long as you’re willing to pay the price. Downside: it can get very expensive very quickly, and as soon as you stop paying the traffic turns off. It’s also prohibitively expensive for small companies in competitive markets, since some high-competition keywords can cost upwards of $10 per click.
Organic Search Engine Marketing
Now we’re getting to the other way of generating search engine traffic. The organic or natural search listings are not paid for. They are what you probably think of when you talk about ‘The Top 10 on Google.’
Getting good organic rankings is all about keyword research, competiton research, getting your keywords in the right places on your website (on-page SEO) and building the right kind of links to your site from elsewhere on the web (off-page SEO).
When people use the terms ‘SEO’ and ‘SEM,’ generally they are talking about organic when they say ‘SEO’ and paid ads when they say ‘SEM.’ SEM can also be used as un umbrella term to describe all forms of search marketing, which is how we’re using it here.
SEO has one big disadvantage compared to paid advertising: it can take a while to get your website to Page One on Google, depending on how competitive your target keywords are. But in terms of return on investment, SEO wins hands down against Pay Per Click over the long term.
When you build strong organic rankings, you can get dozens, hundreds or even thousands of targeted visitors to your website every day without having to pay for each and every click.
The Other Factor: Conversion Rates
Of course, the return on investment you get from both these kinds of search engine marketing won’t just depend on how much it costs you to generate traffic – it will depend on how many visitors you can convert, and how much each of those visitors is worth to you.
Many business owners focus only on traffic, without considering their conversion rate. But it’s definitely worth investing in, when you consider that a jump from a 1% conversion rate to a 2% conversion rate effectively means doubling your revenue.
Higher conversion rates mean you can afford to bid higher on PPC clicks while still making a profit, meaning you can bid on higher-traffic terms and effectively raise sales volume. The same applies to SEO spending – higher conversions mean you can afford to invest more and grow traffic and sales even further.
So how do you raise conversions? There are a few ways – an updated design, for example, can help. But the easiest ways are to add effective, persuasive copywriting and a sales video to your website. This is why we also offer these sales optimisation services at Premium SEO NZ, in addition to our search engine marketing services.
Want to get more sales from your website? Contact us now to learn more about how we can help you succeed with SEO, PPC and video marketing.
Tom McSherry is the founder and chief strategist of Premium SEO NZ. Tom has been in the digital marketing industry for 8 years providing digital copywriting and optimisation services to businesses in New Zealand and around the world. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.
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