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    A 2019 study shows two-thirds of all e-commerce sessions were a result of search traffic. That traffic split roughly in half between organic search (SEO) and paid search (PPC).

    If you do business online, search engine marketing (SEM) is a critical strategy for reaching your market. But should you focus on SEO or PPC first? And how does SEM factor into the equation?

    Let's take a look at search engine optimisation and pay per click to see which is right for your business.

    Search Engine Optimisation

    Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of optimising your website to rank higher in the search results. It applies to all the major search engines such as Yahoo and Bing but Google is the most important of them all.

    Google gets over 70 per cent of the search engine market share with Bing coming in a distant second at 13 per cent.

    Your SEO efforts should focus almost entirely on Google.

    SEO Building Blocks

    Many factors come into play when optimising your site to rank higher. Some of the most important components include:

    • Using relevant keywords in your content
    • Backlinks pointing to your site from other websites
    • Links within your own site
    • Titles, headings, and other components of each page on your site
    • How quickly your website loads

    The exact algorithm Google uses to rank sites is a closely guarded secret but it's clear that all of those factors play a major role. That doesn't mean you should optimise your site for Google's benefit though.

    Create high-quality content and a good experience for visitors on your website above all else. A site that's highly-optimised for Google but a poor experience for humans won't rank as high as a site that provides quality information to its visitors but doesn't have a lot of technical optimisations for Google.

    SEO is a medium- to long-term strategy. It takes weeks or months for your pages to rank in the Google results so the work you do today isn't going to drive a lot of traffic to your site right away.

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    Pay Per Click

    Pay per click, or PPC, advertising is another way to get your site listed at the top of Google. In this case, you pay for the placement instead of counting on Google to rank your page in its results.

    PPC gets its name from the way you're charged for the ads. You don't pay for the ad to get displayed on Google's results page, you only pay when someone clicks on the ad.

    While Google Ads is still one of the biggest platforms for PPC advertising, it doesn't hold as strong a lead. Facebook Ads is another platform that can reach a huge audience, with even stronger targeting features than Google. We'll get into more detail about ad targeting shortly.

    PPC Optimisation

    PPC marketing gives you more control over how and when your site shows up in the results but you still need to optimise those ads to get the best results. Just like SEO, Google's primary goal is to provide a good experience to searchers.

    If your ads are misleading or poorly targeted, people will often click back to Google immediately after clicking your ad so they can find another page. Google can identify those "bounces" and it can drive your ad costs up, drop your ad positions, and even get your ads disabled.

    Treat your ads the same way you treat your website content. Making it relevant and useful for your visitors should be the top priority.

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    Search Engine Marketing - The Complete Package

    Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a blanket term that covers all types of search marketing. That includes SEO and PPC.

    The goal of SEM is to increase your visibility on the search engines so ideally, you should use SEO and PPC together for the best results.

    When to Use SEO vs PPC

    While using SEO and PPC together gives you a better reach, they each have their advantages and disadvantages.

    The biggest advantage of PPC is the turnaround from submitting your ad to getting traffic to your website. The biggest ad platforms, like Google Ads and Facebook Ads, will approve your ad copy before it goes live but this typically only takes a few minutes.

    Once your ad goes live, you can start getting traffic immediately. This makes PPC ideal for testing offers, promoting new content, and optimising your website's conversion rate.

    SEO's biggest advantages are its lower cost and implied "endorsement" by Google and other search engines. When someone sees your site listed in the search results, it implies that Google thinks your site is the most relevant to them.

    How to Use PPC and SEO Together

    A strong SEM strategy uses PPC and SEO together for the best results.

    Test new products, offers, web copy, and any other factors using PPC. The quick turnaround means you can run split tests quickly, figure out what works best and then build on that.

    If something doesn't test well, you can set it aside and move on to another test.

    Once you optimise your marketing to the point where you're happy with the results, you can start implementing an SEO campaign to rank those pages in Google. You already know they're effective so it won't be wasted effort.

    Optimising your website for SEO alone can still be quite effective but it will take some time before you start getting traffic. And once you get that traffic, you may need to do some tweaking to improve your conversion rates. Using an integrated approach with PPC and SEO together lets you test things quickly with PPC so your SEO is already optimised for conversions.

    Where to Turn for Search Engine Marketing Advice

    Search engine optimisation and pay per click advertising need some expertise to get the best results. Google constantly tweaks its algorithms so you need to stay on top of those changes if you want to stay on top of the results.

    You've got your own business to focus on though. Do you really want to take on a second job managing your SEM?

    Lift Strategies can help. We provide a full range of digital marketing services to help you reach more customers through SEM.

    Get in touch with us today to book a free discovery session and learn how we can help you grow your business online.

    Owen is a specialist business consultant with a professional background in policy, corporate affairs, strategy, marketing, engagement, trade and investment spanning two decades. Lift Strategies focuses Owen’s passion for understanding business hurdles and creating with clients their optimal strategy, marketing and engagement for market positioning and growth. He holds an MBA, Master of Business, Bachelor of Business and Diploma of Investor Relations.

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