One of the most frequently asked questions clients ask is whether they should allocate their resources towards SEO or PPC. Every eCommerce agency will provide a different answer depending on a variety of factors such as:
- Goals and objectives
- Current performance
- Marketing Budget
- Target Audience
- Latest SERP updates
No two marketing strategies are the same. Something that works for one business may prove disastrous for another. Plus, there is a high degree of variation that can force a business to regularly reorient its strategy, giving preference to certain channels over others.
The first thing a business should do, before trying to find specific answers, is to perform the relevant audits, an eCommerce SEO audit or a PPC audit. These audits will evaluate your current strategies, exposing key opportunities for strategic growth.
However, we must understand how these two strategies work before we attempt to give any recommendations. They both offer excellent growth opportunities and can be used together for short-term and long-term growth, particularly when managed by an eCommerce agency.
What Is SEO and How Does It Work?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a continuous process that helps search engines better understand what a website is about and how valuable it is for users. A properly optimized website is more attractive to both search engines and your visitors, and will eventually rank higher on search result pages. A subset of SEO, eCommerce SEO is search engine optimization devoted to the organic growth of online businesses.
Many factors affect your website’s ranking appeal in the eyes of search engines. By all accounts, there are more than 200 direct ranking signals that will impact how a website is ranked in the search results.
There are technical SEO factors, such as page speed, URL structure, site security, responsiveness, that help search engines navigate your website more easily. They also provide measuring tools that reveal vital information about how users interact with search results.
For example, Google knows that users usually hit the back button when they encounter slow websites. The tech giant favors zippy websites that offer quick answers and are effective in guiding users through their conversion funnels.
Other factors heavily impact a website´s ability to rank. The most important on-page factor is content, which is present in some degree or other on almost all of the pages on your site.
Rich and relevant content, paired with a well-thought-out link strategy, gives search engines a clear idea of what a website is about and what your target audience is.
Think of content as the link between your business and your audience. If Google is capable of seeing this link when evaluating search intent, it will know exactly where to display your website. The tech giant has become incredibly efficient at predicting what people are searching for. So, a well-executed eCommerce SEO campaign will likely place your website among the first results.
We have link building. Links work a lot like an electoral system where every link that points to your website counts as a vote. However, not every vote has the same value. Websites and domains with high authority will transfer a small amount of their “link juice” to your website if they link to your business. This makes content even more important. Engaging copy will give your users an incentive to share what they read with their social circles, or as inspiration to create content that links to your pages.
On the other hand, low-domain authority websites do not yield much “link juice”. They might even be considered toxic for your website. Google is known for imposing harsh penalties on websites found guilty of unethical link-building strategies.
SEO, if done right, is the most effective way to attract leads without having to finance expensive ad campaigns. Results obtained by SEO efforts are durable and more stable than any other marketing method in the long run.
So, should you only invest in eCommerce SEO specifically for your online store?
The problem with SEO is that it is a time-consuming activity that requires full attention and long hours. That is why most businesses trust their digital marketing efforts to specialized SEO agencies. Additionally, results take a long time to bear fruit. It could take months for a site to rank, especially for highly competitive keywords.
PPC provides an extremely effective short-term strategy for those who need to start seeing immediate results.
What Is eCommerce PPC and how Does It Work?
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click advertising. It is a form of targeted paid advertising on search engines and social media platforms, and it offers very quick results once your campaign goes live. However, an eCommerce PPC campaign requires careful planning for it to be efficient and effective, not only paying for the costs of the campaign itself but generating a profit through expanded business.
Keyword research for PPC campaigns must be even more carefully planned than SEO. The problem with PPC is that you have to make every click count. A haphazardly organized campaign, or one pursuing the wrong target keywords, could attract the wrong clicks to your ads, increasing the cost of your campaign without achieving your business goals.
Paid advertising is the first thing users see when they perform searches. However, it is not necessarily the first thing they click unless the ad is directed to them specifically.
How do we make sure our ads are directed to people interested in your product?
The best way is to target very specific keywords based on user intent. If you target generic high-volume keywords, you will most likely have to pay a lot of money for every click. What´s worse, most of those clicks will be wasted on people without any interest in what you are offering. The only way to prevent wasted spend is to specifically target the potential customers who are further down their customer journey with well-researched long-tail keywords. You must also pair that with professional ad copy that clearly states the purpose of your ad. Data shows that this combination can increase both traffic and conversions while reducing customer acquisition costs and wasted spend. Your website design and landing pages should also be highly optimized to encourage conversion rates, once a user actually clicks on your ads.
Hiring a qualified eCommerce agency for SEO and PPC management is a surefire way to start your digital marketing strategies off on the right foot. After determining your buyer persona, and performing an in-depth PPC audit, a digital marketing agency can develop a hyper-targeted PPC campaign that reels in high-quality leads who are ready to convert.
Make sure you hire an eCommerce marketing agency with a proven track record of implementing successful PPC strategies and a team of paid search specialists and copywriters. They will implement the right format and craft enticing ad copy that resonates with your audiences.
So, is PPC a silver bullet for traffic growth?
As with everything related to marketing, choosing the most effective channel for your business depends on many factors. PPC is extremely effective for businesses running a small seasonal campaign or those who want to start driving traffic to their website quickly. However, PPC is more expensive and will stop generating results as soon as the campaign is halted, whereas SEO offers virtually ever-lasting ranking positions.
The Best Solution: an eCommerce Agency for SEO and PPC Integration
While there are a few industries that benefit from going with only one method or channel, most marketing campaigns should cover all their bases by integrating eCommerce SEO and PPC campaigns for maximum impact.
SEO is definitely the most cost-effective method as it does not require a heavy investment to start ranking and getting clicks. However, it takes time to start seeing results.
For those who are at the beginning of a marketing campaign, it is usually better to run a PPC campaign to start building a solid customer base while an SEO team takes care of all factors that affect organic ranking.
Not many people know this, but PPC has a very interesting way of influencing your SEO efforts. For example, paid ads yield a lot of data that allows you to evaluate the performance of keywords, ad copy, and audience behavior. Within a few days, you will have a wealth of information that will not only serve you to tweak your ads but is incredibly valuable for your SEO efforts. It is not uncommon to adjust all SEO efforts according to the best-performing keywords, ad headlines, calls-to-action, and copy. This is vital information if you want to know the best way to create effective copy for your pages and increase conversions.
PPC also supports SEO efforts when you are launching a new product or service. It is faster to start driving traffic to your website with the use of paid advertising instead of waiting to rank for a new keyword through search engine optimization. This two-pronged approach can also be used for seasonal sales by targeting very specific keywords and time frames.
Additionally, eCommerce PPC can be used for retargeting purposes. By utilizing your cart abandonment data, you can target people who added products to their basket but abandoned your site before completing the purchase. This focused approach allows you to encourage visitors to return and complete their customer journey.
When to Use PPC or SEO?
There are several instances where PPC is not an appropriate channel for your business. For example, there are regulatory restrictions that prevent businesses and organizations from promoting certain products or services through paid advertising. These restrictions might limit your ability to target certain audiences or zip codes. Google might require a certification process to grant you access to restricted formats or audiences.
SEO is a good workaround for this as long as your website follows all regulatory guidelines applicable to your location and line of business.
On the other hand, PPC offers great support to SEO and marketing campaigns when you want to target new keywords or expand your reach. It allows you to test the waters and adjust your content accordingly.
A joint effort between PPC and SEO prevents a lot of the problems associated with misaligned targeting and opportunity costs, especially when managed by an experienced eCommerce agency.
If you are still not sure what channel is the best for you, contact the best eCommerce agency and get prompt advice from our team of digital marketing experts.
- Matt Lovett
- September 15, 2021