SEO positioning vs. advertising campaigns

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A few days ago a client friend told me about his doubts regarding the choice between SEO and an advertising campaign to improve customer acquisition.

There are many factors to take into account, such as the type of product you want to sell or the service you are offering. But let’s start with the basics.

How to be found on the Internet?

More than 90% of interactions with the Internet start with a search engine (Google, Bing, etc.). Now, if you or your company does not appear in search results, how are users going to find you? In most cases, they will not.

That can be solved immediately! Being found is something you can buy.

Screenshot of Twitter, a Mahou campaign is shown
A custom Mahou PPC campaign among regular Twitter posts. The visually small 'Promoted' information indicates that this is a promotional post leading to an external website.

Paid search, also known as PPC (pay per click), is a marketing tactic in which we pay for the placement of ads on the Google results page or among “normal” social media posts. These ads work on a “pay-per-click” basis, meaning we only pay when the ads are clicked.

That promises a fast response. You can set up a campaign and monitor the results to find out what’s working and what’s not. And immediately, you’ll see what visitors are coming to your page.

Sound good? It is, but there are some drawbacks. First of all: costs. If you’re in a competitive industry, it can be very expensive. A price of 40 euros per click is not uncommon for very competitive keywords.

You have to look very carefully:
How many hits (products sold, new customers acquired…) do you get with a campaign? Do you lose money in the end?

Paid search is like a light switch. If you turn it on, the traffic will come. But as soon as you turn the light off (i.e. when you run out of money), the traffic will stop immediately.

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The same goes for social networks. If you refuse to pay, interaction with your content is likely to decrease.

SEO on the other hand means free, recurring traffic. Unlike Twitter, where a tweet can get you traffic for a day or two, or paid search, where every click costs money, SEO can bring you constant traffic months or years after you’ve posted something on your website.

Screenshot of Bing search engine organic results
Bing search engine organic results for fundaciongoethe.org. Additional subpages are shown according to the search engine criteria.

SEO: Optimizing a web page so that it appears naturally in search results

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears in the organic results of Google and Bing.

The tricky part of SEO is that you can’t pay to show up. Google and the others have algorithms that calculate the quality and relevance of your page and rank it accordingly.

So a big part of SEO is figuring out what the search engines consider important, and then optimizing your website accordingly.

Advantages and disadvantages of SEO

What are the advantages and disadvantages of SEO? First of all: SEO is much cheaper in the long run! Which brings us directly to the biggest drawback: SEO takes time. There is a lot of refined technical SEO that we carefully include on all our websites, but at some point what matters most is the content.

Google’s algorithm focuses on the richness of your content. SEO is a way to make sure that search engines can understand what your page is about, that it contains quality up-to-date information and that it will answer the question the search engine had in mind.

First of all, your website must be flawless.

Attractive, fast, accessible, of course optimized for all devices, and secure. I won’t go into more details about what all this implies, just this: I know all about it and if you trust me, your website will most likely be much better than those of all your competitors.

Then you have to write the first contents. Once this base is created, the next step is to prove to the search engine that our website meets their high criteria. That takes time. In very simple words: Google and other search engines will now visit us repeatedly and take a look at our website, and also observe how their users interact with our website. Do the visitors find what they are looking for? Do they feel comfortable?

Roughly speaking, you can assume that an initial positioning takes two to six months. But once we are in the search engine’s favor, it will recommend your future content much faster to its users.

That brings us to the next advantage: You can learn to do some of the necessary work.
To do well in search, you’ll need specialized content.

You know better than anyone else what you are talking about, because you are an expert in your profession.

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I can explain to you the best way to structure and formulate content on the web. A simple user interface makes it easier for you to publish your articles at any time by yourself.

You could combine both worlds: SEO and pay-per-click in tandem

Many companies use both SEO and PPC at the same time. Try it out, observe the results. Maybe this approach will work for you!

I’ll be honest, I don’t like internet advertising and I don’t offer services in that direction.

But I wholeheartedly recommend the following: Create exciting and unique articles that serve a niche or shed new light on something, use a semantically correct hierarchy and write well-considered meta tags. That’s how you get people to your website, and that’s how you lead them to your products and services!