Fishing for Leads: PPC vs. SEO Keyword Selection

FishingWhen I speak with business owners, the one thing that they all have in common is that they want to grow their business.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click advertising  (a.k.a. PPC or SEM) each offers the possibility of more visitors – qualified and targeted visitors – just what we’re looking for.

Search Engine Optimization is a great tool for drawing targeted, organic (free) traffic. However, it is not a quick fix, and even with good SEO practices, it can be hard to compete for some of the more competitive words in some industries.

Pay Per Click advertising can work nicely alongside SEO. It can allow companies to rank quickly for their chosen keywords, and to compete on the most competitive words. However, many small business owners disregard PPC for fear of losing money.

Both SEO and PC can be effective marketing strategies that complement one another. The success of each is partially dependent on keyword research and selection, however, not necessarily on the same keywords.

Keyword Selection

Although the keyword research process is the same for both SEO and PPC, the actual keyword selection criteria is considerably different.

SEO: More is More

From an SEO perspective, you want to open the flood gates and cast a wide net to draw as much traffic as possible – industry related traffic of course. Although most companies limit themselves to a few select terms – balancing the amount of traffic with their ability to compete for that term – the ideal situation would  be to create optimized pages for any and all relevant keywords (one of the advantages of a blog), draw a high volume of diverse visitors, and use targeted content to meet their needs at whichever stage in the sales funnel they are at.  In his book Outsmarting Google: SEO Secrets to Winning New Business, author Evan Bailyn refers to this strategy as the “Nuclear Football” strategy.

PPC: Less is More

However, with PPC, you will be casting a single hook rather than a net. Because each click has to be paid for, one of the keys to a successful PPC campaign is LIMITING the number of clicks that you receive. You want to focus on those few keywords that you can use to identify a searcher as being near the end of the sales cycle, and interested in your product or service.

This will require that you get into the head of the searcher and try to determine his/her intent with the selected keywords – it is the “art” of keyword selection.

For example, keywords like “Financial Planning” may be too broad. Is the searcher looking for a company to manage his/her financial plan, or are they looking for a new career, to be educated, or simply wanting  to read the most recent issue of Financial Planning magazine? Keywords like “Financial Planning” will probably have to be eliminated from your list.

If the keywords have multiple meanings, you’ll probably want to leave that keyword off of your list as well. For example “All in One SEO” appears in the Keyword research tool as a highly searched term with low competition. Seems perfect for a marketing company that offers  all-inclusive SEO packages right? Perfect until you realize that “All in One SEO” is also the name of a very popular WordPress plugin.

Words that are plural (i.e. SEM companies) often represent searchers that are not as close to buying as their singular counterpart (i.e. SEM company), so, depending on your goals and budget, you may want to remove the plural keywords.

Depending on your industry and experiences, there will be other filters that you use as well. The key is to consider your keywords through the eyes of the searcher, and as much as possible limit their appeal to unqualified searchers.

The success of both your SEO and PPC campaigns relies heavily on the quality of your keyword research and selection.

Remember, for keyword selection: cast a net with SEO keywords, and a hook with PPC keywords and you’ll be off to a good start. – Click to Tweet!

Thanks for reading. As always, your comments and questions are welcomed and appreciated.

photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via photo pin cc

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Brent is a REALTOR with Keller Williams in Henderson (Las Vegas valley) NV. He has a background in digital marketing and is a nationally recognized SEO expert. In addition to this blog, he is a VIP contributor to Search Engine Journal and has been syndicated through SteamFeed, Social Media Today and B2C.
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