Many companies have a difficult time navigating the online marketing landscape. There are many directions to go and the choices can be overwhelming. Also, the web is constantly changing and the advertising opportunities continue to grow. At this point, most companies have heard of pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO). The most common question we get is “where should we put our marketing budget?” The answer is that you’ll want to eventually have a budget for both, but you should always start with PPC if you don’t have any data on what your clients are searching for and, more importantly, which words will convert.
Keyword searches can be broken into many different types of categories, but when considering which words to target, a common mistake is to base your SEO strategy only on search volume. Search volume doesn’t give us any information about how many leads you will get. For example, you may find a keyword that gets 1,000 searches a month and only brings in one lead per month. You may run another keyword and find that it only has 100 searches a month but generates 10 leads per month. In addition, the lower search volume keyword may be less competitive and have a lower cost-per-lead (CPL). If you knew this information before you started, your research would change your SEO strategy and probably save you a lot of money.
In order to find out what keywords convert for your business and what the real search volume is, we run PPC ads and track all the leads that result from particular searches for your business. After the PPC campaigns are optimized, we can accurately estimate how many leads you can expect from any keyword if you were to rank organically on that keyword. We can know the “market value” of any keyword your customers are searching for. Your campaign structure ends up being a “site map” —what keywords you should target based on actual data that converted from a well-run PPC campaign.
We highly recommend running PPC first to determine the most effective SEO strategy and eventually having a budget for PPC and SEO that covers the most high-converting keywords in your market.
Sean periodically teaches as an adjunct professor on the topic of search engines and search marketing at MSU and is a member of their computer science advisory board. He completed coursework for his PhD in machine learning at MSU. He was the founder and publisher of SEMJ.org. Sean holds four engineering patents, has a B.S. in physics from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a master’s in electrical engineering from Washington State University. As president and director at metric ppc, Inc. he focuses on search marketing, internet research, and consults for large companies.