This is a guest contribution from Nicholas Whitmore, freelance journalist and website content editor.copy
With search engine traffic becoming increasingly difficult to rely on, it’s important for bloggers, like you, to think of different ways to drive people to your website. After all, there’s no point in blogging if no one is going to read what you write, right?
One question I’m asked a lot is whether PPC traffic is a viable alternative to organic search engine traffic, from the point of view of a blogger. It’s something I’ve looked into, experimented with and drawn my own conclusions about.
It’s not free
You didn’t need me to tell you that PPC traffic isn’t free, but I wanted to get it out of the way.
The main different between PPC and SEO is that you pay on a cost per click (CPC) or cost per mile (CPM) basis. Whereas organic traffic is served on a golden platter to your website completely free of charge, PPC traffic costs you real money.
The fact it costs money isn’t a problem in itself. Hundreds of thousands of websites use PPC, so it is definitely worth it in a lot of situations.
A few merits of PPC
Some people point blank refuse to use PPC because they don’t like the idea of paying per click or impression. Each to their own – but here are a few reasons you might consider using PPC advertising for your blog:
- Instant traffic: As soon as your site goes online you can drive traffic to it. Whereas organic traffic can take months to arrive, PPC traffic is nigh on instant.
- Turn it on & off like a tap: Going on holiday? No problem! Pause your PPC campaigns and you can pick up where you left off when you get home. You can’t do that with SEO.
- Highly targeted: Depending on the campaign settings you choose, PPC traffic can be just as targeted as organic traffic if using search networks on Bing or Google.
- Control: You’ve got control over loads of factors including ad copy, landing pages visitors are directed to and more – it’s a great way to split test pages on your site and optimise them for conversions.
- You’re billed after the traffic is received: If you’re really good at what you do, you can maintain a positive cash flow from day one – providing you make more money than you pay in costs.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Some bloggers I know cram their blogs full of affiliate links, adverts and sponsored editorial content. The more traffic they get the more affiliate sales they make, the more advertising revenue they receive, the more they can charge clients to publish sponsored editorials.
These aren’t your average hobby bloggers – they’re calculated people aiming to make serious cash. There’s nothing wrong with that though.
Other bloggers I know have vast sites that ooze authority and popularity – but their owners have made no effort whatsoever to monetize them. They just don’t want to for one reason or another. Their blogs are hobbies, interests – but not apparatus for making money.
It’s clear that in the former example, there’s some ROI to be calculated – the difference between the PPC expenditure and the sum of the income from various revenue streams. For the later example there is no ROI, because the blogs aren’t being monetized.
If you’re attempting to monetize your blog in any way, shape or form, it’s generally a good idea to at least dabble with PPC traffic. If you’re not going to monetize your blog at all and it’s just a hobby, there are few merits to throwing money at traffic – you’ll never make that money back, so what’s the point?
Define your goals
The original question posed in this blog is whether PPC traffic can be a viable alternative to organic traffic for bloggers.
In truth, the only person that can answer that question is you. It’s important for you to define your goals as a blogger – if you’re going to create value and generate revenue somehow then PPC will almost certainly be a traffic generation method you should use.
Examples of value generating techniques bloggers might use when driving traffic via PPC include:
- Affiliate links
- CPA offers
- Physical products for sale
- Services for sale
- Email list opt-in (addresses can be used in future email marketing campaigns)
All of the above are reasons why a blogger might pay to send traffic to their website using PPC.
Even if PPC is useful, is it really an alternative?
There’s a difference between something being useful and something being an alternative.
The problem a lot of bloggers and website owners have is that they’re overly reliant on one source of traffic. They invest all of their time and effort into that one source of traffic – when that goes belly up their interest wanes and their blog dies.
PPC isn’t an alternative to SEO traffic. The two should be used in tandem – they complement each other perfectly. They should also be used alongside traffic generation techniques like social media marketing and email marketing.
Most people look for an alternative to SEO because their organic traffic has come to an abrupt halt – usually due to a search engine algorithm update.
By putting all of your eggs in one basket (and focusing solely on SEO) from the outset you’re asking for trouble. If you put an equal amount of time and effort into various marketing practices like SEO, PPC, social media and email marketing, if one of your campaigns goes badly wrong, you’ve got the others to fall back on.
If you’re a hobby blogger and you make little or no money through your website, PPC is probably not something you should look to experiment with. If you’re a blogger that monetizes your website, PPC is very useful indeed.
That said, PPC shouldn’t be seen as an alternative to any other traffic source though – the most successful blogs and websites draw traffic from multiple sources including search engines and social media.
Nick is a freelance journalist and website content editor from http://www.contentwriting.org. He writes extensively about the art of blogging, as well as online marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC and SMM.