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PPC vs. SEO: Which is Better for Ecommerce Internet Marketing?

The competition in ecommerce search marketing increases with each year. Nearly every corner of online business contains a blend of players with both advertising skills and deep pockets. Below is one example of the dense variety of retailers all trying to increase their visibility on the web.

So a sports retailer sells gear and memorabilia in all the major sports (basketball, baseball, football, hockey, golf, etc.) over the web. How do you market the products and compete with all the other big boys? Any query for every type of sports gear is filled with big-budget national retailers that dominate both paid and organic listings.

PPC advertising is one way to attain high search engine exposure. However, at nearly $1 per click for an exact phrase match like [mens baseball cleats], it’s easy to see how the expenses can add up in PPC advertising. The other main option is to target search engine optimization. The goal with SEO is to earn a top spot on the keyword phrase.

The chances of reaching a top spot are hard to predict because of the amount of strong competition. Not to mention SEO takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. In the end, what should a retailer decide when exploring the possibilities of ecommerce Internet marketing? Is SEO or PPC the answer?

Long-tail Insights Are the Key

Search engine users are more precise with their keyword phrases than ever these days. The habit of Internet consumers is to search a long-tail keyword phrase reflecting the particular product they’re seeking. Simply put, the phrase will include three or more words specifying a product, such as “louisville slugger genesis” or “louisville slugger genesis baseball bag.”

Knowing the tendencies of long-tail search is critical for ecommerce SEO as well as PPC, particularly with limited budgets and close competition. Google’s Instant feature is an ideal tool to increase your scope on these trends with relation to your ecommerce website’s keyword-targeted-phrases. From the results given by Google Instant, it seems like “louisville slugger genesis wheeled bag” is a long-tail keyword worth targeting.

We can create highly-targeted ads specifically for this equipment bag as a means of ecommerce PPC. By doing so, our ad has a chance to stand out from the rest. The headline of “Louisville Slugger Genesis Wheeled Bag” may pertain to searches more than the average “Louisville Slugger Genesis.” For retailers with a limited advertising budget, testing ecommerce PPC waters with long-tail keyword targeting is a smart move. Bid on keywords using only [exact phrase match] to start.

You can also use modified broad match to capture anything relevant that included any of your specified terms. Bidding on a keyword phrase using the modified broad match might look similar to this +Louisville +Slugger +Genesis. This bidding strategy will only trigger your ads when each of those three words are used in a query.

Using Ecommerce PPC to Test SEO Keywords

Search engine optimization is a lengthy endeavor, so it’s important that the chosen keyword targets produce sales. It’s great if we can accomplish a top keyword ranking, but the real goal is conversions. Without the conversions, the SEO campaign’s a bust.

One of the most effective strategies in ecommerce Internet marketing is to use PPC to test the sales of a variety of potential keywords before optimizing for them with SEO. For huge online retailers with endless products, PPC can be one of the best testing procedures for search engine optimization. Typically if a keyword produces sales in PPC advertising, then it will most likely convert organic SEO traffic. The point here is to highlight the keywords that produce the most sales via PPC and decide which of those keywords should be used for ecommerce SEO.

If a keyword is new and unfamiliar, test it for a while with PPC until the statistics are relevant enough to evaluate its sales and SEO potential. Part of the keyword selection process is taking into consideration how competitive each keyword is and whether or not achieving a top ranking is possible. The organic listings for some keywords are too competitive for ecommerce SEO, no matter how successful a keyword converts from PPC.

Localize Your Campaigns

Some retailers have a local market focus allowing them to set-up ecommerce PPC campaigns targeting specific geographic areas.

This enables marketers to write targeted ads with locally-centered content, like “Product of the Napa Valley” or “Found only in…” These ads will stand out from generic keyword phrasing cluttering up the SERPs. A lot of times, users are searching for products locally. Their queries might include a geo-modifier, such as “sporting goods in Kalamazoo.”

If you own an ecommerce site, but also have a physical location of business, you definitely want to consider developing a local SEO strategy. The process of geo-optimizing your website is simple. Make sure to mention the city or region your store is located in throughout the content of your site. You can include your store address in the footer for starters.

Also include your geographic target in your URLS, Page Titles and Meta Descriptions of your optimized pages will help your website significantly for geographic matching in local searches.

The idea to localize your ecommerce Internet marketing campaign may seem strange when you’re also trying to sell products on a national level. But if you’re also looking for foot traffic then the decision to locally optimize is a no-brainer.

Socialize the Marketing Campaign

Social media plays a part in pretty much every Internet marketing campaign. When it comes to ecommerce Pay Per Click advertising and organic SEO, social media is the ribbon complementing the gift.

Social media is budget-friendly, extremely interactive and always has the potential to go viral for your ecommerce brand. Think about the viewpoint of your target market. Are they using social media platforms? Which ones?

Facebook and Google + are the most frequented due to their popularity. But a social media campaign goes further than just identifying. Building a following and interacting with your followers in specific ways is how you solidify your campaign.

Social media, if done correctly, can really complement all SEO and PPC efforts. The goal is to build a brand while consistently bringing in traffic to your website. Social media platforms may contribute a little to the SEO effort, but for the most part, social media should be approached with an inbound marketing strategy.

How can you lure a potential customer to your ecommerce site?

The End Result

The most successful search marketing campaigns use a mixture of search engine optimization, pay per click advertising and social media marketing. Email marketing can be important too, but that could be covered in a whole other blog post. Study your target market’s interests and slowly assemble your campaign in a way which will relate to them best. Patience is critical as you make your way into PPC and SEO. Internet marketing for an ecommerce brand is relentless. Know your strategies are effective before pouring too much time and money into a campaign.

This article was contributed by Kyle Blasco

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