Forbes’ recent article, ‘When is SEO the Wrong Choice?’ is an interesting dissection of when the author, Joshua Steimle, believes SEO becomes a valuable strategy for businesses looking to get the most from their internet marketing budgets.
The main point the article sets out to make is that, whilst SEO is a valuable long term marketing tool which can yield a good return on investment given enough time, pure SEO is unlikely to have a dramatic impact in the short term. Instead Steimle points to tools like remarketing and paid search advertisements as a good alternative means of boosting traffic and revenue on the site in the short term.
Steimle makes the analogy that “SEO is a bit like a freight train”, in that “it takes time to get results, and those results build upon each other over time”. Whilst this is undoubtedly an accurate analogy for the way in which SEO works as a marketing technique, Steimle uses this to draw a line between it and short term methods, like paid search and remarketing.
His article suggests that for companies with a limited marketing budget who are looking to get the most return on their investment, it is best to choose between the two in terms of the aims of the business and the timeframe within which they want to begin seeing positive, measurable results. Again, this statement is true when considering the different methodologies of the two approaches, but crucially, does not consider a combined approach, in which a marketing budget, however limited, may be logically divided between paid advertising and more traditional SEO methods.
If a company has, for example £2000 per month for online marketing (assuming the sector is not one of intense competition), spending ⅔ of the budget on PPC would start generating immediate results in terms of traffic to the site. The remaining £700, although not enough to begin a full scale SEO drive for the business, could be put to good use creating an SEO foundation on the site, creating content, optimising landing pages and beginning to create a strategy for growth. As the PPC campaign develops, the results it produces will allow you to retarget and streamline the budget, allowing you to gradually increase the budget dedicated to improving SEO in the medium to long term.
Obviously, the use of a professional company to manage your marketing would require a management fee, requiring any budget to be scaled to include this. By paying a professional company, you’re not simply outsourcing a job, but paying for their experience, ensuring that your budget is spent on only the most valuable and worthwhile campaigns and SEO exercises, optimised to get the most from your budget. The value of a good SEO company cannot be understated, as explained in Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog ‘PPC Management: What’s the Point?’.
This is only one way you could combine approaches with a smaller online marketing budget. New developments, like Google’s Adwords Express allows you to exclusively target your local area with adverts, a system that is linked to your Google business listing. For businesses with a local reach, this is a far more cost effective paid search option, allowing more of your budget to be redirected to improving your SEO. Ultimately, Steimle is right in saying that budget and timeframe will always be a limiting factor in creating effective SEO campaigns, but the long term nature of SEO means that it can be initiated and improved upon as part of a combined approach. Above all, you should approach your internet marketing budget as a dynamic asset, to be redirected and retargeted as often as is necessary to achieve the best results.