Your Digital Election!
Display Networks, SEO or PPC who should get your vote?
After the shock announcement that there is shortly to be a snap general election on the 8th of June, the time is almost upon us to signal our allegiance to a particular candidate by putting an “x” in a box as we pop off to the local primary school or village hall, slip into a booth, and pull the curtain closed.
So, it seems like a great time to ask yourself whether your business is making the right choices when it comes to its online presence! Below are a few options or techniques to consider when taking your website and online marketing to the next level
SEM or Search engine marketing is a term that covers the numerous activities that a competent agency can undertake to increase your website’s visibility. SEM is also BIG business, it’s not unusual for big companies to have monthly SEM budgets that run into the hundreds of thousands, but that isn’t to say that your virtual presence can’t be improved on a much more modest budget.
SEO = Search Engine Optimisation
This is the process of getting your site to“organically perform well” or “naturally” in the eyes of the search engine (Google for 9 out of 10 people). This means that money isn’t exchanged with the search engine directly for appearing higher in the total results for specific search terms.
Search Engine Optimisation can range from increasing the ease of navigation around your site to the relevance and freshness of your content that is on the page. The success of your SEO activities are ultimately judged by your ability to satisfy the needs your online visitors.
Google invest millions into the algorithms that judge how well a site performs, and these algorithms that are secret (up there with the Coca Cola recipe and the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices!).
This is all done with the consumer in mind so that companies can’t just speugh a formula out to beat the system and have their site appear at the top of the search rankings. Dubbed ‘the mobile geddon’, a prime example of this is the first major mobile orientated update from Google back in April 2015. In this update, Google spelt out exactly how a site’s mobile-friendliness would affect where it directly would appear in the search results.
The rationale behind this? Google were reacting to users ever changing viewing habits with the continuing migration towards mobile devices. This clearly demonstrates that google is out to reward sites that provide a user experience that is positive – and the importance of keeping up to date with the latest SEO tactics and user understanding.
PPC = Pay-Per-Click – Such as AdWords by Google
You will definitely be familiar with the ads themselves if you are not familiar with the term. These are the text based ads that appear at the top or bottom of the search results – They used to also appear on the right-hand side, but Google got rid of this back in 2016.
These ads have also found their way onto social media sites such as Facebook. These adverts appear when people search for specific words or terms, anything from “cheese” to “cheap tyres” to “Solicitors in the Shetland Islands”
In theory, PPC could be the ultimate SEM tool because you only part with your hard-earned cash if somebody clicks on your link – hence pay-per-click. So potentially, millions of people could see your messaging without you having paid any money whatsoever.
Unfortunately, in the real world it is very difficult to compose an advert that will build brand awareness without compelling somebody to click it, and even if you are successful in doing this, Google will soon cotton on and bump you down the list.
Effective Pay Per Click Campaigns can provide an almost immediate response. Like abolishing stamp duty or income that is halving, it can yield positive results very quickly! Once you know the ‘right’ terms you can start to receive traffic within a couple of hours! This means that you can have a sizeable amount of measurable data in your hands within days of a campaign beginning and start driving enquiries on your website very quickly.
PPC can also work very well if you operate within a niche or specialist market where there isn’t a high level of competition. High competition is what drives up the price per click. So you will be competing against…well… nobody I’d imagine, and you will pay far less per click.
Obviously, in a highly competitive industry you might have your work (and budget!) cut out; for example, if you run a company which makes chocolate bars, where you’ll be slugging it out with the likes of Mars and Nestle and end up (easily) paying upwards of £50 every time somebody clicks your advert – You will have a hard time with generic search terms. Dependent on your industry, competition and niche you must think very carefully whether this method will provide the ROI you desire.
Something that is worth bearing in mind is that in general, the public are a skeptical body of bodies! Most people (80% in fact) skip straight past the paid ads and click on the first result that is organic worried that their desktop will be littered with unmentionable popups if they were to click on one of those suspiciously well-placed ads! But this isn’t to say that people don’t see the ads, just they don’t tend to click on them. But remember, just because they don’t click on your ad, it can still be a very effective method of increasing brand awareness. The tendency to skip over ads is gradually changing though as more and more people become search savvy and Google adapt their SERP’s to place even more emphasis on the Ads and Local Search over Natural / Organic Results.
Display Networks = Display Networks, sorry no abbreviation here
Google’s Display Network allows you to place visual adverts on websites that are relevant to your offering, effectively targeting people that are likely to be interested in your product. These adverts can be text, logos, images or even videos or animations.
Chances are, if this article is being read by you you’ll have already come across display ads. They are the banners and boxes that appear above or to the relative side of articles that are on sites that you visit daily. This could be deemed as a more passive approach before they are aware of their need for your offering because it is targeting customers when they are not in a “search” environment but that is no bad thing, you are gaining exposure to a potential customer! You mind-reader, you!!!
A powerful use of Display Ads is using them in combination with a remarketing list. Remarketing, in short, allows you to gather information about the people who have visited your website and add them to a list. You can then use this list to target those past website visitors with your adverts and encourage them to return. Have you ever noticed, when you’ve visited a website, that for weeks afterwards you will see they’re add seemingly everywhere? That’s because they are using remarketing and display ads to ‘follow you’.
Time to cast your vote…
And that’s all we have time for, Like Trevor McDonald or Krishnan Guru-Murthy, I have given you a brief overview of the candidates and their manifestos and the decision is now up to you. But as was the case in the 2010 General Election, you may want to explore a Coalition of more than one approach!
Feel free to speak us at Square Media Solutions, the 10 Downing Street of Marketing Agencies, if you want more detailed advice on how we can help you with your Search Engine Marketing.