If you own a small business or are looking to do online marketing for your website then you should know the difference between SEO and SEM (PPC).
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s a strategy to get your site listed in the organic results of Google. That is the results displayed in the image below.
You do this by blogging, building citations, getting reviews to your site and link building. Yes I said link building. Not the spammy type of link building but building links organically.
SEM (search engine marketing) is when someone pays for a placement on Google. You can see those listings below in the image.
When I talk about SEM I usually just stay PPC (pay per click) since it’s basically the same thing. You’re paying each time someone clicks on your ad. Of course there are many variable to this but that’s the basics.
So you own or manage a site and which should you do? Well the short answer is both. You should have a long term SEO strategy. Kind of like you have a maintenance plan for your home appliances you should think about SEO as the same type of service. You should be blogging monthly, adding and fixing citations and all the other tasks that SEO consists of. Whether you do this in house or you hire someone it really never ends.
PPC on the other hand can be done to test the market and can be turned on/off at any point. Ideally you should run a PPC campaign for a while so you can A/B test and optimize your ads. And if the ROI is positive why would you stop? As long as you’re making a profit from your PPC spend then keep spending! If you can make $2 for every $1 spend then simply scale your amount of money you spend and you’ll make more.
You can learn all of this stuff yourself but you should study hard because there is lots to know. It took me years of reading and testing to get a good handle on SEO and PPC. Probably thousands of hours of reading and experimenting.
I would suggest heading over to Moz and reading the Beginners Guide to SEO http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo. It’s a great resource and you can really learn a bunch. The most important you can do for your business today is start a blog and start writing content. Do it a few times each month and make sure it’s quality and not crap.
Which is Better
So to answer your question neither. Continually do SEO and test PPC with a small budget. If you see results (remember with a small budget this can take a long time) then scale and spend more.