Many businesses seem to be throwing money away on PPC at present, at a time when money is tight.

PPC for some search terms is incredibly competitive (think anything to do with finance or money, eg mortgages, for starters), but it may well be that whichever sector you are in, you can save some of your PPC budget by focussing on SEO.

Many websites are not built to be search engine friendly, because most website developers (and I say ‘most’ advisedly after many years doing SEM!) remain unaware of the importance of the structure of the site for SEO. There are many minor tweaks that can be made to site structure to improve SEO, so this article is not suddenly recommending a major rebuild.

Changing page (file) names to include keywords can make a huge difference to Google’s spidering, although should you choose to take this route you will need to ensure that there are no broken links within your site.

Additionally, every single one of your page titles should include keywords and be relevant to the page, rather than generic for the whole site. This is a common problem and stems from laziness.

It is still surprising how many sites do not include keyword rich alt img tags on all images or meta tags. (Note: alt img tags are required by law to make commercial and government sites accessible for all).

Does your wesbite include a site map, robots.txt file? And is the robots txt file correctly configured so it actually lets the search engine spiders follow links to all of your site?

Does your site include keywords in the header tags? These are the tags used to create headlines to break up the copy on your page, and H1 tags in particular are very important in the search engine algorithms.

Is your site built wholly in Flash or frames? (Firstly, go do something suitably horrendous to your website developer…. then do something about the problem immediately).

Check all your internal links and the a href tags for ease of use, simplicity of navigation and keywords.

However, there are also other free and easy ways to improve SEO, get more organic search results, improve user experience, and get the quality website traffic you need to get sales without spending all your budget on PPC.

Many companies become so reliant on PPC to drive traffic, that they often forget to put valuable content on their sites for organic searches. Whilst they congratulate themselves over the ROI from their Pay Per Click spend, you can be marvelling at the enormous ROI on the organic searches for your site from a little well-written content and SEO.

Long tail searches can bring a wide variety of traffic to your site, and it is far easier to regularly add content that includes your organic search terms than you would think, especially if you incorporate a blog or newsletter into your site

Have a look at who your competitors are in the top 10 positions for your organic search keywords. Look at who they are, the structure and content on their site, and decide whether it is worth trying to compete, or whether you should adopt different internet marketing strategies to target your potential customers.

And don’t forget to set your Google analytics goals to monitor and measure the return from your activities and then you can compare for yourself whether PPC is better than SEO for your website.

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About the author:

Phil Robinson is an online marketing consultant with over 17 years experience in marketing planning, internet strategy and online acquisition. In 2004, Phil founded ClickThrough, an ethical search marketing agency. He gives best practice training for businesses, runs seminars and writes books on digital marketing.