Before it became mainstream, most information about digital marketing came second-hand and wasn’t very accurate. Now that a lot more information is known, it’s time to clearly separate the facts on digital marketing campaigns from the fiction Here are a few myths, along with my version of the actual truth about these aspects of digital marketing, particularly Pay-per-click campaigns.

MYTH: I have to choose whether I use SEO or PPC (Pay Per Click advertising), they are mutually exclusive.

REALITY: Many of the same activities that are used for SEO are also critical to PPC. They both rely on web analytics, keyword research and optimizing user experience. Efforts on either can definitely be put to use in both areas.

Erin Provey

MYTH: SEO traffic (also called organic traffic) is free, therefore, it’s cheaper than PPC traffic.

REALITY: It takes content to bring organic traffic – and content is not free. As the old saying goes, There is no such thing as a free lunch. Erin Provey of Sirius Decisions
says the “content is free” line of reasoning is to blame for why our sites lack content and why the content they do have is low-quality. We don’t put effort into activities that we consider free. Erin argues that we must “start being more conscious about the effort behind (and thus the cost of) internally generated content.” Having concluded that producing content costs money, the only decision we really have to make is how to divide our spending between promoting the content and producing the content.

MYTH: PPC will improve my SEO rank.

REALITY:  This notion leans too heavily on PPC and overblows its importance. PPC matters, but it isn’t everything. Search engines maintain a clear division between their paid platforms – they contend that spending on their ad platforms has no influence on the organic rank they assign your site.

MYTH: Using PPC lets me off the hook for producing good content.

REALITY: Content is the key to ranking on Google both organically and on PPC. Your site is being scored on how comprehensively it talks about a topic. Google doesn’t share how they arrive at this score for organic search, but in PPC they do give a Quality Score, which is a pretty clear indicator of how valuable your content is. In fact, PPC can inform your SEO, since it shows you in real dollars how your sites content fares on various keywords. You don’t have to guess which keyword phrases drive leads, PPC tells you which ones you should be using even more throughout your website. Don’t think that you need to pick between PPC and SEO – it’s not an either/or choice. Think instead about the content you create and look at PPC and SEO as ways to amplify that content so it reaches more people.

MYTH: I can get enough traffic, using just SEO.

REALITY: To know whether search traffic is sufficient, we have to know the optimal amount of traffic our business needs. Let’s say we need our site to generate 1 lead/day for sales. Let’s also say that our website traffic is predominately from search and that its conversion rate is 10%, meaning that if 10 people reach our conversion offer each day, 1 will convert on it that’s the Optimal traffic we need. Next, referring to our analytics, let’s say we find that Search Engines consistently bring about 6 people per day to our website. For our business model to work, we must make up the remaining 4 visitors per day. PPC is the leading candidate because it’s also a form of search traffic, and it’s liable to behave much the same as the organic search traffic that converts at 10%.

As you set a target number of leads you want from your site and multiply it by how many visitors it takes to produce a single lead, the Optimal amount of traffic you need will likely be way above the Actual traffic you currently get. In the short term, PPC can make up the difference, getting you the traffic levels you need to have for achieving a steady flow of leads. Should you care to go deeper into the analytics required to do this, Kelly Kubrickcheck out Kelly Kubrick’s website. Kelly’s model looks also at how much of your total website traffic comes from Search Engines. She says that a site with good SEO can expect to get between one-third and two-thirds of its traffic from Search Engines. Getting higher rankings over time can drive the search portion up to two-thirds of total site traffic. A high percentage suggests there’s more search traffic out there, but going beyond that on organic traffic only, will take PPC and other channels. Any SEO beyond that point is unlikely to make any difference in closing the gap. I liken this to going out to a test course with your car and driving it as fast as it will go. Smart steering and shifting will help you reach a certain speed, but if you want to go any faster, you’ll probably have to get a faster car. I’ve explained this at a strategic level, but for a parallel view that looks at this by the numbers, consult Kelly’s courses and her consulting services.

The real solution to the issue is to ask “what amount of each do I need to be balanced?” This is a level-headed approach, because you’re running both PPC campaigns & applying SEO best practices over a long enough time that will yield lots of visitors who are truly interested in your offerings. The trick is to find the right blend of traffic sources that works for you.

MYTH: Before I do anything, I need to decide whether I first need to use PPC to help my SEO or if I should first use SEO to help my PPC.

REALITY:  James Carville might reply to this statement by saying, “IT’S THE CONTENT, DUMMY.” The truth is that PPC and SEO are both helped by good content. You can’t directly control traffic, you can’t affect it. Only Google & other search engines do that, and they do it based on what causes their visitors to be happy. Search engines figured out long ago how to quantify good content, as a result, they’ve been sending both organic and paid traffic wherever they see it. It all leads back to content. Knowing this, a site owner who wants more traffic should feel confident that efforts spent on content, (what causes traffic to, be sent their way) will lead to higher traffic.

To conclude, each of the elements we’ve covered here are industries unto themselves (US$100 Million/day is spent on PPC alone). We can no longer rely on myths and outmoded concepts about these mainstream digital marketing strategies. Hopefully, these answers have dispelled some myths about PPC, SEO and Content and helped us understand how we can achieve success with them.