Mar 20, 2006, 11:34 AM
Post #1 of 1
Where are your hard earned dollars better spent: trying to increase your organic search engine rankings, or through Pay Per Click (PPC), Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing (SM), or MSN AdCenter?
Organic Search Rankings vs. Pay Per Click
The simple answer is that organic search engine positioning is by far more important, and results in higher conversion ratio.
The problem is that organic search engine results are not easy or cheap to increase, so supplementing your SEO campaign with a carefully selected pay per click ads will increase your visibility.
It is important to note that pay per click should not be used as your sole form of SEO. Many issues have been raised about click fraud and scams, so to rely solely on PPC is a grave mistake.
Be careful of sneaky competitors who are familiar with how PPC works. Let’s assume that you have set a limit of $20 per day for the key phrase ‘summer camps’. Also assume that this competitive key phrase costs $1 per click. You are the top bidder, willing to pay $1 per click, and your competitor is second but only willing to pay $0.50 per click. Your competitor can do a search for summer camps and click on your ad 20 times, costing you $20 dollars and maxing out your budget for the day. Any search from now on will display on your competitor’s ads and he will only be paying $0.50 per click.
What you have to do is become very diligent and inspect all the logs to make sure they are coming from unique computers. If you find that someone is performing click fraud on your ads, you can get your money back from the search engine, but that does not help you get more campers. And let me stress that you have to find the click fraud incident; the search engines won’t do it for you.
The right way to set up pay per click
First off, there are many firms that specialize in setting up PPC campaigns. The problem is that they are expensive. If you educate yourself on how PPC works, you will be able to set up a highly targeted and cost effective campaign. Here’s what you need to do:
Figure out who goes to your camp. Is it kids 6-12, teens 12-16, etc…?
Then figure out to whom you have to advertise. The parents or the kids?
Parents will primarily search for camps either on their lunch breaks at work, or after dinner. Kids will primarily search for camps right after school or after dinner. You can set up your PPC to only show up at certain times in order to target parents/kids when they are online.
Furthermore, do you want your ad displayed to a parent in New York if your camp is in California? It depends on the type of camp you have. Assume that you are a traditional camp in California. Most likely, your campers come from … you guessed it … California. It would make sense that you filter your ads to only show up for parents who are located in California.
Keywords are tricky little things. Summer camps are not the same as summer camp. You should use the tools that search engines provide to determine which ones are getting searched more. Then you should allocate your budget accordingly to make sure that you have more cash for more frequently searched terms.
Organic Search Ranking
The term organic search rankings refer to the placement that your site gets in the search results not including PPC. It is very difficult to get to the first page of results but if you do, you will find that your traffic will increase and hopefully that means an increase in camper enrolment.
Statistically, people who got to your site through an organic link have a much higher conversion ratio than people who got to your site through PPC. It follows then, that investing in organic SEO will yield a higher ROI. The problem is it takes longer to see the results since it will take 4-6 months to increase your organic rankings.
Does this mean that you have to hire an expensive SEO firm to optimize your site for tens of thousands of dollars? Absolutely not. What you should do though, is hire a knowledgeable person in SEO to fix your title tags, keywords, add content … the usual stuff. That’s not all though. One of the simplest ways to increase your organic rankings is to get links from high ranking sites. If you are Gold member on MySummerCamps.com you already have a link from your detailed page. But why stop at one link? As camp directors/employees, you have many stories which could help you increase your rankings. Writing an article about your camp, a story that happened at your camp, or other camp-related news, and posting it to our forum with a link to your site will add more links to your site.
Be sure to include keywords in your title and content for which you want to be found. For example, if you are trying to increase your ranking for the search term “California summer camp” write an article with the title “Fun activities that can only be experienced at a California summer camp”
If your website is not on the first page of the organic search results, don’t sweat. Keep optimizing your site, but don’t just spend money on low-converting PPC campaigns which will provide you with low ROI. An alternative is to be found on the site that is ranked high for your keywords. Let’s again use the California summer camps example. If you do a search for “California summer camps” you will find MySummerCamps.com at the top of the organic results. Instead of PPC you can list your camp on our directory which is randomized so your listing will spend an equal amount of time at the top position as the rest of the listings. Since people who click on organic results are much more likely to convert into enrolled campers, this will increase your conversion ratio and will get your camp seen by potential campers.
Organic search engine placement is harder to achieve but the rewards outweigh the costs. If you haven’t already, optimize your site by cleaning up your title, meta tags, and content. Very important: write articles and post them on our forum with a link back to your site. Campers will read it and follow the link and search engines will index these links. If you are using PPC, research your keywords thoroughly and filter your distribution so that you only display your ad to potential campers.
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(This post was edited by hagai on Mar 20, 2006, 3:05 PM)