Both search engine optimization and pay-per-click marketing help businesses boost traffic to their websites. You can either build traffic for free by trying to achieve high rankings in organic search results or pay for traffic by running PPC advertising campaigns.

The following eternal question bothers many marketers and website owners: “Which of these two tactics can deliver better results for my business?” In fact, PPC and SEO strategies can coexist and work together seamlessly.

If you want to know why PPC and SEO are game changers for all businesses, read the following recap of our SEMrush Chat. Our regular chat participant Traffic Jam Media, a digital marketing agency that helps companies gain quality visitors, helped us answer this question.

Let’s delve into the topic!

Q1. Which digital marketing tactics work best for your business?

Digital media provides business owners with multiple options for marketing their businesses online. But how do you choose the right ones in such diverse web marketing space? Let’s figure out which tactics and techniques will work best for your business.

  • Long-form content with statistics and amazing visuals

Many of our chat guests said that quality content plays an important role in their digital marketing mix: “Quality content is always the best tactic; you cannot beat good research and better writing!” tweeted Stuart Campbell ‏@stucflo. The Express Writers ‏@ExpWriters team also shared their experience, saying that publishing long-form content delivers great results: “For us, it's all about quality content and SEO. We consistently publish long-form content on our blog with great results.”

Fresh statistics and amazing visuals make your content even better. When you show your audience real proof, they’re more likely to trust you. Fresh stats and numbers can spice up your content. The same is true for visuals. Stunning visuals make your content more beautiful and, more importantly, more memorable and sharable.

  • Educational whitepapers and infographics

When it comes to content marketing, Val Vesa recommended using educational infographics and whitepapers, an authoritative guide or a report to explain a complex issue and help readers better understand it. Some companies use long-form whitepapers to promote their products and services.

An infographic is another creative way of displaying content that can capture your readers’ attention. What’s more, infographics are easy-to-understand and digest.

  • Social media

Modern marketers and site owners use social media to fully engage with their target audience via all possible channels. Annaliese Henwood pointed out that social media is great for engagement and creating brand loyalty. Indeed, today, brand loyalty can be cultivated and maintained through smart social media engagement. “In News, we rely heavily on search and social traffic to drive new visitors to the site. Videos and imagery are essential,” tweeted Thom Craver ‏@thomcraver.

  • Conversion rate optimization

Even though Joe Martinez pointed out that different channels work better for different clients, he would start with conversion rate optimization. CRO is a structured approach to improving your website’s performance. More importantly, it’s defined by your site’s unique goals and needs, or KPIs (key performance indicators). Joe remarked that there’s no point in driving traffic to your website, if your webpages don’t meet your goals.

  • Email

You may have heard that email marketing is going away. However, smart email marketing helps companies provide a customer-centric experience. No doubt, it’s changing, but it can still be an important part of your digital marketing mix. Tim Watson shared five email marketing trends that you should stay on top of in 2017 in order to use this channel to its maximum potential.

  • A mix of tactics

Many of our chat participants remarked that you need to use specific channels, based on your industry and your company’s goals, and rely upon a diverse marketing mix.

Debi Norton ‏@BRAVOMedia1 also pointed out that every client is an individual. Nevertheless, SEO is the backbone of growth, while PPC is “the push.” These two strategies need to work in a perfect synchronicity.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q1

Even though each industry is specific, and each company has its own goals, using a diverse marketing mix is becoming more and more important.

Q2. What is the proper balance of PPC, SEO, Organic Social Media and Paid Social Media?

We’ve already mentioned that social media is an essential element of many modern business’ marketing campaigns. But how can marketers strike the right balance between organic and paid social media, as well as between SEO and PPC?

Here’s what our chat guest think on the topic.

As well as many of our other chat participants, Ryan Johnson believes that your choice between organic and paid channels depends on your business.

When it comes to modern consumers, every channel can play an important role in your marketing mix. First, you need to ascertain your business goals and set KPIs that are linked to your objectives. This will help you better understand what channels you should use to fulfill your company’s needs.

Dario Zadro believes that business owners should, in most cases, use PPC channels at the beginning of their marketing campaign, while SEO always remains an important ingredient of any marketing mix.

Aamina Suleman pointed out that SEO and organic social media strategies are crucial for startups. As you business grows, you can also use PPC and paid social media techniques in order to boost your organic marketing efforts.

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Smart marketers always test different tactics and channels. Rachel Howe remarked that what works for one company doesn't necessarily work for another. Your choice of the right strategy and channel should depend on your business niche, your resources, your customers, and competition in your industry.

Traffic Jam Media pointed out that if one channel were a lot cheaper than the rest, everyone would jump on it until it became too competitive.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q2

The bottom line is that PPC and paid social media can bring faster results. While SEO may take more time to pay off, the benefits are long lasting.

Q3. Are you overly reliant on one specific digital marketing area? What would you do without it?

Some companies prefer specific marketing strategies and platforms and use them more often, which is why they sometimes underestimate other techniques that can also be useful. Here’s what our chat participants recommended for those who are overly reliant on one specific area of digital marketing.

  • Find the best CPAs

Kim Connor Streich ‏@KimTJM, the director of Traffic Jam Media, pointed out that clients are normally overly dependent on one channel and leave money on the table when it comes to other channels. But it’s important to focus on tactical CPAs. CPA (cost per action) marketing is when an advertiser pays only when someone takes a specific action (e.g., fills out a form, submits an email, registers an account, signs up for a free trial, or buys something). This payment model enables advertisers to pay only for actions that they think will generate quality leads or more sales.

  • Rethink your digital marketing campaign

Andy Drinkwater believes that if you are overly reliant on something, it means that you need to rethink your digital marketing campaign, since it’s risky to put all your eggs in one basket. “But if Twitter was taken away from me, I think I would feel very lonely,” continued Andy.

Rachel Howe agreed that it’s especially dangerous to rely on paid channels. The bad thing about paid media is that the results it delivers are not so long-term, as with organic media. “It’s especially scary when you rely on paid [media]. Never put all eggs in one basket,” tweeted Rachel Howe.

  • Pay attention to what your audience prefers

It’s important to use the right communication channel to distribute your message. The tools, platforms, and channels you should use will depend on your audience, and how they prefer to receive information and engage with your brand.

  • Invest in long-term strategies

Some business owners focus too much on paid media, instead of allocating their resources and efforts among better long-term strategies. While paid search is often one of the first steps for marketing your business, organic channels are crucial for sustainable long-term growth.

It’s important for marketers to evaluate various strategies and channels, so they can better plan their marketing budget to get the best results.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q3

We noticed that many of our chat guests and their clients would be lost without social media. Are you also overly dependent on any specific channels and techniques? Let us know in the comments!

Q4. What area of your business’s digital marketing strategy needs TLC in 2017? Why have you neglected it?

There are some digital marketing strategy options that you are probably neglecting. Our chat participants shared some areas of digital marketing that you need to stay on top of this year. Check out the following list to discover which of these areas you are currently ignoring.

  • Understanding and exploiting data

Today, it’s more important than ever for companies to get to know their clients on a deeper level. Businesses need to understand their users’ behaviors. To do this, they have to learn how to use big data sources and leverage them in order to get into their customers’ minds.

  • Video marketing

Video content is on everyone’s lips these days. The way people consume content is changing, as more online users prefer to watch video rather than read an article. HighQ named 2017 the year of video marketing, and it comes as no surprise, assuming that 70 percent of people watch videos online every week and 55 percent of people watch videos online every single day. If you don’t include video in your marketing mix, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with a much larger audience.

  • Paid social media

According to Smart Insights, paid social media advertising will be one of the biggest trends of 2017 and will have a significant impact on how we conduct social media marketing. Assuming that it’s becoming increasingly hard to achieve business goals solely via organic social media, companies will have to pay attention to paid social media advertising. Businesses will need to increase their reach and effectively communicate their message to their audience, while standing out from the crowd.

  • Demographic targeting

Some marketers also plan to target gender and age demographics within their search campaigns. Google AdWords enables you to reach customers who’re likely to be within the specific demographic group that you choose. If used correctly, these demographic-targeting options can significantly improve your campaigns.

  • Maintaining a balance in the online ecosystem

The best practice today is to use both earned and paid media. For example, you can use PPC and social media to amplify or extend your SEO efforts. The bottom line is that different tactics and channels should work hand in hand. In 2017, it’s more important than ever to be able to strike the right balance between them.

Also, Marianne Sweeny ‏@msweeny offered a great piece of advice, saying that you need to gain a better understanding of how the landscape is changing due to artificial intelligence and personalization.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q4

What areas of digital marketing are you going to focus on in 2017? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Q5. If there is one thing you could get the rest of your coworkers to understand about PPC and SEO, what would it be?

Finally, our chat guest experts named some aspects that they would like others to understand about PPC and SEO.

  • Relying solely on SEO is risky

If you only rely on organic search traffic, you need to revise your strategy. It’s important to spend your time and efforts on different techniques that constitute the bigger picture of online marketing, in which SEO should be only a part of your digital marketing mix.

  • SEO is not about forcing keywords

Everybody knows that stuffing a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate your site’s rankings is a bad practice. Forcing keywords is a bit different from keyword stuffing and is more about forcing keywords where they don’t belong contextually. You need to provide your audience with commentary on relevant topics, rather than filling your content with as many keywords and key phrases as possible.

  • SEO is a time-consuming process

Some business owners still don’t understand that SEO requires a lot of time and effort. It can’t bump your website up to the first positions in Google SERPs over night. You have to be patient; it will pay off over time. “SEO needs at least a three-month lead time. Results won't happen overnight!” tweeted Reva Minkoff ‏@revaminkoff.

  • YouTube is the second largest search engine

YouTube was dubbed the second largest search engine in the world after Google, which means that it’s now important to have a presence on this website to expand your online marketing reach and drive traffic back to your site. You can check out these advanced YouTube optimization hacks  provided by Nathan Hague, who explained how to put your video in front of your target audience.

  • Content is not king

You may have frequently heard in the online space that “content is king.” However, today it’s more about your audience, rather than content itself. You need to craft your content to appeal to your customers’ needs and wants. Beside creating high-quality content, you must make sure that your content is relevant to your target audience and that it helps solve their problems.

  • SEO and PPC don’t compete with each other

Finally, digital marketers must understand that your SEO and PPC shouldn’t be battling with each other. These two strategies have many areas of overlap and they should work in tandem in order to help you achieve better results for your business and clients.

Let’s sum up these key points.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q5

When combined, SEO and PPC can be a very powerful tool. Based on your niche and business goals, you need to determine the optimal mix of these two approaches.

Many thanks to Traffic Jam Media and our other chat participants who made this discussion interesting and productive!

Author Photo
Liza PerstnevaLiza Perstneva is a Social Media Manager at SEMrush and a #SEMrushchat host. Follow Liza on Twitter.
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