Free versus Paid

Just stepping outside of the SEO loop and into the wider world of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), I thought it was time to post something about the use of Adwords in helping to market your recruitment website.

SEO is generally considered more ‘worthy’ by us SEO types. It’s doing something ‘healthy’ to the text elements of your website to help serve your users. But it’s good to remind ourselves from time to time that in some cases, paying more directly for those clicks through to your site is of equal or more value for money.

A recent study for NMA showed that 55% of companies surveyed intend to increase natural search budgets and just under half (45%) will up paid search investment this year as they look for measurable ROI in difficult economic times. The annual UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report, which surveyed 800 client companies, agencies and search consultants, found large numbers were continuing to increase spend on organic search. 48% of them reported better returns on natural search (optimisation) campaigns and 43% claim greater ROI on paid search (pay-per-click).

Life of your investment

SEO is a better long-term investment.  Put simply, when the SEO person has gone away, finished what they’re doing – for a while or for good, then the work that they should have done on the site will still bring rewards int he longer term.  That’s the beauty of optimising for the organic rankings.

Is should come as no surprise tro you that if you pay for every click that comes through to your website, you can turn that on or off at the push of a button (or a few clicks on an account page).  This is good if PPC is not working for you, or if your circumstances change; if your recruitment business moves into or out of a certain sector.   But the benefits tend to stop the moment you press the ‘off’ button.

Immediate Returns

Inversely, when you need immediate returns; visitors to your site right now, then PPC is the obvious way to go.  For a brand new website there is no way (for most budgets) that anyone could get you right up there in Google for anything other than the most niche search terms.  Organic just takes time.  It’s about growth, which is one reason that it’s called organic!

The Long Tail… again

I keep going on about the long tail but I can’t over-egg this one.  If your site has lots of good textual content then you are more likely to capture ‘less frequent’ and more specific search terms.  Those terms are from searchers who generally know what they are looking for, and hence have a higher conversion rate.  Example: Someone searching for ‘Marketing Jobs’ is a candidate just browsing.  Someone typing “Marketing Account Manager Jobs in South London” into Google knows damn well what they’re looking for and is far more likely to take action when they get to your site.

There is not really a way of capturing Long Tail search through PPC alone – the two notions don’t work together.  For good Long Tail traffic you need good weighty relevant textual content.

There’s no substitute for good architecture

A short word about why SEO more is worthy in my opinion.  SEO gets you into good habits.  You become aware of a website that is easily spidered (crawled and ‘read’ by the search engines) and that it contains the (textual) content matching people’s expectations.  Whilst PPC can bring you traffic in for any keyword you want (if you’ve got the budget), it need not match those visitor expectations when they click through to it.  I could pay £20,000 per month to get traffic to this site for the phrase ‘iphone’ and expect a good click-through rate.  But the traffic would leave the site immediately once it got here.  A well SEO’d site should never really do that.  Content should match expectation.

Summary

So… just to put it into basic sound bites…

ORGANIC SEO

Pros

Long term investment

Capture “Long Tail” traffic

Forms good habits

Content matches visitor expectations

Cons

These things take time

Slow Return on Investment

Slower to adapt to change

PAY PER CLICK

Pros

Instant – so good for new sites

Adaptable

Easily cancelled / suspended

Top of the page

Need not match your content

Cons

Visitor expectations may not match content

Benefits end when the budget ends

Brings no long term benefit

Popular words can be VERY pricey.

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