Pay Per Click Advertising or Search Engine Optimisation?

There is a lot written about the pros and cons of pay per click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimisation (SEO) on the web. Unfortunately there is little written on how they can form part of a small business's marketing strategy. Whilst a marketing strategy should be unique to a company, there are a number of things that as a small business you should bear in mind.

SEO is the process of tailoring a website so it appears high on the results pages of search engines. To optimise a website effectively takes a certain expertise as well as a good deal of experience. Often, the only way of optimising a site effectively is to outsource to a company or consultant who specialises in the field.

PPC advertising, on the other hand, requires you to decide how much you want to pay the search engine every time someone clicks on a link to your website. These links feature towards the top right hand side of the search results. The more you agree to pay the search engine, the more often the link will appear.

The first thing to point out is a trust issue. People using search engines naturally have a level of distrust towards the links they know have been paid for. Research into people's searching consistently shows that users are far more likely to choose the organic results rather than the paid advertising links.

On the other hand, in the short term PPC can be an effective way of boosting traffic to your site. It is important you choose the right key words (known as Adwords for Google) and set a strict budget for your advertising or you risk spending lots of money for very little return. Used as part of an effective small business marketing strategy however, PPC can give your business that little boost it needs.

In addition, PPC is much easier to manage in house, particularly by a small business. SEO is a far more complicated art form that often requires outsourcing. With outsourcing comes cost and a good SEO agency could be a little expensive for the smallest businesses. That said; by managing a PPC campaign yourself you open your business up to the aforementioned risk. Any streetwise director knows mitigating risk is as integral a part of small business marketing as any other.

In the long term, SEO is almost always the most effective form of advertising. Establishing a relationship with an SEO consultancy firm will not only mean your site is continually near the top of relevant Google searches, you will be able to budget your advertising costs much more effectively.