SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click) are two of the most popular and effective methods of advertising in the digital world. There is a multitude of other ways you can get yourself out there online, however, SEO and PPC are consistent performers.

Due to the measures restricting physical interaction as a result of COVID-19, digital platforms may well become the main platform for business and trade in the coming months. In order to boost their online presence, many businesses and companies will, therefore, be looking to employ different digital marketing strategies.

SEO and PPC will no doubt be among some of the favourites as a method of generating interest, traffic and sales during this difficult period. This blog is going to explore and compare these different strategies in order to explain which may be the best for the situation we find ourselves in.

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of improving a website’s speed and content in order to increase the ranking of the website on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). SEO increases organic (non-paid) traffic to your website, however, it’s not something which will happen overnight.

One of the main branches of SEO is technical SEO, which essentially means optimising a site through processes to increase visibility and indexing. Examples include looking at improving the speed of the website to meet Google’s standards or compressing images so they load quickly.

Once your website is performing well technically, you’ll want to populate it with content. As Google’s ultimate goal is to answer the user’s query, the content needs to be easy to read and informative. For your own purposes, it should also be rich with keywords relevant to the services you are trying to promote.

Another key step in SEO is to provide a smooth experience to the user. This is something that Google’s search algorithms have begun to look out for. If your website is convoluted, complicated or confusing, then that will not be rewarded with good rankings.

Once you’ve completed all of this work, you’ll be on the right track. As you might imagine though, this is quite a lot to get through. And because of the way Google indexes web pages, it may take a while for all of this work to start achieving results.

PPC

PPC is a marketing method where advertisers pay a fee every time one of their ads is clicked. As opposed to SEO which provides ‘organic’ traffic, PPC is a method of buying visits to your website.

While PPC is clearly a ‘spend money to make money’ marketing method, in some ways it’s quite similar to SEO. The advertiser will still need to compete against other PPC campaigners, which will require keyword research and good organisation.

If you do manage to hit the right number of keywords in the right area, then PPC marketing will allow you to sit at the very top of the SERP. This means you will have the highest chance of being seen and thus being clicked on.

Although you will pay a fee every time your ad is clicked on, those clicks you receive may well be worth far more than the fee of the ad. For example, you might be charged £1 for a visitor from your PPC advert, but that visitor may go on to spend hundreds of pounds.

The downside is that this is temporary. You will need to keep paying for ads to stay at the top of the results and keep a close eye on your campaign as competitors may be employing the same tactics as you. Furthermore, ads can put some people off.

Facebook ads

Facebook ads have been a long-standing advertising method, allowing people to market their companies on the largest social network site in the world. Not only is it the largest social networking site, but it also holds a huge amount of information on its users.

This information allows Facebook to micro-target its adverts towards individuals who might be interested in them. This alone shows why Facebook ads are such a popular and effective marketing method.

In light of the current situation, Facebook is offering $100m in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 small eligible businesses in the countries it operates in. If you’re struggling due to the outbreak of COVID-19 preventing your usual flow of business, then this grant might be worth taking a look at once more detail is announced.

Facebook ads do not rely on optimisation in the same way as SEO and PPC and will not help to bring in organic traffic in the long-run. However, Facebook ads have the potential to bring interested parties straight to your website to browse your goods.

So what should you do?

All three marketing strategies have their pros and cons. SEO is generally considered the cornerstone of all digital marketing, as when it’s done well it provides long-term organic traffic which is always a good thing. However, it usually takes a few months for SEO changes to take effect. So if you need results quickly, you could make a few changes but you need to realise you won’t necessarily get enquiries flooding in. However, when things return to normal, you would expect to see more returns and your competitors may not make the same decision, so this is still worth considering.

At the time of writing, we simply don’t know what’s going to happen. In this situation, it may be better to see results quickly, so PPC or Facebook ads could be a good quick option for you. Especially once we know more about what Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are offering. If the money for ad credits is going to be available quickly, then who would turn down such an amazing freebie? Not us, that’s for sure.

In a few months, the difficulties posed by COVID-19 may start to resolve themselves. It could be less time than that. The ideal answer to the question we posed about what you should do is all of the above. A strategy where you spend some money in the short term but also invest in organic results in the long term is ideal. We recently implemented a paid advertising campaign for a client which showed results within the first week of going live. We also began an SEO strategy at the same time and this is showing some quick returns in rankings quickly moving up.

We get that this may be tough for some people to do because of the costs involved and that is why you need to look at what your competitors are doing and to do your research.

The worst decisions would be to a) do nothing or b) do something badly. So, assess who your audience is, work out what your audience is actually looking for and do some in-depth research on keywords.

If you’re feeling confused, get in touch. We have started offering free half-hour phone calls to anyone who simply wants advice. It’s free and isn’t for us to push our services. We will genuinely look at what your business is and does and try to help you with any difficult decisions you need to make.