By Dave Beltramini
In April 2015, the “Harvard Business Review” reported that, for the first time in history, customer relationships were being valued more highly than a company’s brand. And how do new customer relationships start in this modern age? Via Web search.
According to research by BIA/Kelsey, a research, consulting and valuation company focused exclusively on local advertising and marketing, 97 percent of U.S. adults use search engines to investigate products and services. If you’re a self-storage operator, this puts a lot of pressure on you to deliver relevant information on your website to prospective and current tenants. Having a best-in-class website with responsive design and integrated search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to an effective digital-marketing strategy. But integrated SEO isn’t enough; SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) together are the strategic formula for success.
SEO is often referred to as organic search. It’s the practice of optimizing content, keywords, site speed, citations, links and social signals to leverage brand performance on search engines and improve organic website discoverability. PPC is often referred to as paid search. It’s a targeted way to deliver the right information to the right prospect at the right time, displaying contextual, behavioral or keyword-targeted advertisements across the Web.
There are a couple of common misconceptions around SEO and PPC I’d like to clear up:
Misconception 1: You don’t need PPC if your SEO is optimized. With more than 51 percent of all searches now taking place on smartphones and tablets, PPC is the clear winner on mobile, potentially dominating more than 70 percent of the first-page listings. PPC may be the only way to out-rank Google and get above the fold for many queries.
Misconception 2: PPC is a temporary solution that’s required until SEO kicks in. Nathaniel Tower of First Scribe, a Minneapolis-based Web-design and Internet-marketing company, wrote in a February 2015 blog post, “What business owners need to understand is that SEO and PPC aren’t rivals; they are harmonious partners. They are two equally important marketing strategies that shouldn’t—and don’t—compete against each other. Rather they work together to create a stronger, more reliable strategy for your site.”
Your Strategic Formula
Your search strategy should leverage SEO and PPC. There’s clear evidence supporting the need to include both. The results of a March 2012 Google study exploring click trends between organic search results and PPC ads confirmed the symbiotic relationship between the two disciplines. On average, 50 percent of the ad clicks that occur on the top PPC ad are incremental. In other words, they wouldn’t be recovered organically for the same site if the ad campaigns were paused.
To look at this another way, even if your website ranks in the No. 1 position and you were to pause your PPC campaigns, 50 percent of the ad clicks that used to be yours would now go to a competitor’s PPC ad, not your organic listing. And when you look at the results of the Google study for sites ranking in positions two through five and below, the numbers are even more staggering. “On average, the incremental ad clicks percentage across verticals is 89 percent. This means that a full 89 percent of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused,” the study stated.
The increased benefits of SEO and PPC working simultaneously to drive relevant traffic doesn't stop there. Experts in their respective fields—SEO buff Mark Munroe and PPC specialist Evan Waters—presented advertiser data at the 2013 Search Marketing Expo that showed a 66 percent higher click-through rate on PPC ads when an organic listing was also present, and a 92 percent higher click-through rate on organic listings when a PPC ad was also present.
There are no guarantees when it comes to SEO and PPC, as Google algorithms change frequently. To keep up with these constant changes and maximize your digital-marketing effectiveness, it's essential to dedicate the resources internally or partner with an external marketing firm with search expertise. Despite the ever-shifting landscape of search, one thing is clear: Using both SEO and PPC harmoniously to dominate valuable search engine results is the formula for success in today’s complex digital environment.
With more than 15 years of digital-marketing experience, Dave Beltramini is vice president of digital performance at G5, which provides Digital Experience Management software and marketing services to the self-storage industry. The company’s offerings include responsive-design websites, search engine marketing, social media, reputation management, lead tracking and management, analytics, and client-performance management. For more information, call 800.656.8183; visit www.getg5.com.