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PPC: A Viable Alternative to Organic Traffic for Bloggers?

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:

  • Adverts
  • 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.

To conclude…

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.

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Comments

  1. I have personally found that using PPC to drive traffic to a blog is not really cost effective. It is much better when driving it to a squeeze page or sales page.

  2. Back a few years ago when I was running a gaming community I had to decide between CPC and CPM. If memory serves me correctly I used CPM. I honestly don’t think CPC is viable for anything other then large entites with huge budgets. Having never given them a chance myself I can’t say if I’m right or wrong, but I just didn’t want to take my chances.

    Thanks for the insightful article :)

  3. Jeremy Myers says:

    I never even knew this was an option. And Google doesn’t care about PPC traffic? They won’t penalize you for it?

    What are some good sites that offer PPC?

  4. I think PPC marketing is a good option to go with in many cases. However, it use the old saying “You get what you pay for” every time. If you pay very little into it, you will not get a lot of results. If you pay a lot into it, you will likely get more favorable results from it. A lot of bloggers feel like PPC is more of a gamble simply because they don’t realise that you indeed do get what you pay for when it comes to this method. Great post, by the way. :)

  5. Thank you very much Samuel. You just hit the point. while ppc can make you some sales when directed to your blog, it will do better if driven to a squeeze page, the benefit is long term. If your ppc is directed to your squeeze page, you can sell to those subscribers again and again.
    I also think it is very important to pay for ppc if your blog is a business to you. Lots of bloggers kill themselves with free stuffs and expect every thing to be free. If you need to make money, then there should be some investment, and investing on ppc is a good one if done properly.

  6. abl says:

    It’s important, as you note before the conclusion, that you don’t rely on a single source, no matter what the venture.

  7. Praveen says:

    well, this is really a good idea for gaining organic traffic, but i’m bit confusing about PPC sites so can anyone help me out with the list of top PPC sites? i seriously waiting for these types of alternatives for my blog.

    Thanks in advance :)

  8. Paola says:

    This sounds interesting, but there is the risk of spending a lot of money before reaching an “optimized” campaign and actually getting any results… also, many PPC providers don’t allow advertising to send traffic on affiliate sites… is that true, even nowadays?

  9. Drewry says:

    I discovered PPC advertising is very useful. You have to know what you’re doing. Back in the day when affiliate marketers could directly advertise most of their affiliate programs directly through their affiliate links on PPC networks like Google AdWords, and Microsoft ad Center, I was temporarily at the point of making money every day from running PPC ads directly through raw affiliate links, but I didn’t have the experience in writing very good ads that would cost me less money in clicks. As a result, I was forking out more money to Google and Microsoft in PPC advertising fees then I was earning in affiliate commissions. Today, I discovered a very experienced individual who actually gives away a free e-book on how to write better Google ads for PPC advertising purposes and his name is Perry Marshall. This said, I recently discovered I had an old Google ad words account with almost $300 and it from five years ago I just found my old password to and may consider running some paid Google ads momentarily.

  10. Tom Black says:

    Nice post, but I’m not sold on PPC. I’ll stick with organic SEO for my blog.

  11. Drewry says:

    years ago, I dabbled with PPC ad services such as Google AdWords and Microsoft Ad center. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. Back then, affiliate marketers were allowed to promote many of their affiliate links directly through PPC advertising. I wasn’t experienced with writing good ads, but was making money every day in affiliate commissions from running PPC ads. However, I was paying out more money for PPC advertising than I was earning in affiliate commissions. Now that you mention this post about alternative traffic and PPC, I discovered a nice free e-book by Google ad words professional Perry Marshall about how to master Google ad words ad writing. thank you Darren forgiving me something to think about.

  12. If you brought a popular keyword on ad-words for say 40p a click surely you couldn’t make any more than that even if you strongly monetize your site very heavily?

  13. Vin Dicarlo says:

    2 months ago i have tried PPC to increase my affiliate sales but not a good results. I think PPC not worth a penny it just take money, nothing else…

  14. saheimtrumpi says:

    Interesting points about using PPC to drive traffic to your blog.If you consider blogging as business rather than a hobby, then including PPC in your traffic generation plan isn’t an option but something we ought to do.

  15. Mike says:

    PPC is good if you know how to use it.
    The goal is to set traffic and clicks to make them come from relevant content as it’s your website. For example if your site is about gaming niche then set the PPC campaign to get only traffic from people who’re interested to gaming.
    Although there are several ways of setting the clicks, like you can set them as a search match keyword or just publish your ads on similar websites like yours, but as you said it’s a great option if you have site which makes money to earn more money with PPC.
    Great article, thanks for writing it.
    Regards,
    Mike

  16. scott says:

    I have experimented some with ppc and didn’t do what I wanted, but after reading your post, I will try to get better organized and try again. You have alot of good information here. I will be visiting more often.

    Thanks

    Scott Moore

  17. Bradley says:

    I liked this article, mostly the main point it brought up, which is diversification.

    Actually, I’ve only got in this whole traffic chasing “competition” and what I see is that it can be really though if you are a newbie like me. Currently, I’m experimenting with very cheap PPC (CPM) traffic but will not go far with it ’cause the conversion from it (to my email list) is negligible.

    Anyway, this post reminded me that I should build my blog on multiple traffic sources right from day one. Thanks!

  18. Edson Hale says:

    For money bloggers PPC is surely a good option to hit the target audience with accuracy. For amateur bloggers traffic through search engines is the wiser option to expand their reach without spending any money.

  19. Praveen says:

    PPC is wise selection for gaining targeted traffic with techy visitors, this brings those visitors who really engage with the content and hence results in high page rank :) nice post…

  20. Bradley says:

    Thanks for this article! It reminds all of us that differentiation in terms of traffic sources is a must in the long-run.

  21. Joan says:

    I think it’s profitable if you have several different landing page offers on your site. Having one product, and a low-end one at that, won’t be worth the trouble.

    Case in point. I have two different businesses: One is a high cost membership site set up for clients with guaranteed income (yes, I do that because I have some marketplace generation techniques that works and know what sells and what does not). I spend money on PPC for that, because even at a very low conversion rate, one sale makes me a ton of money.

    But my second business is simply selling some low cost plr ebook packages (and soon plr video packages), and that is hardly something I’ll be using PPC for anytime soon, even with additional upsells and downsells and cross-sells. It’s just too much of a gamble, and you must factor in the cost of your time.

    But PPC is the best way to get ahead quickly. And if you have multiple offers – a good mix of middle and high ticket – it’s certainly worth the trouble, time and investment to test and lose some money on initially for the greater reward later.

  22. Drewry says:

    Almost every time I publish a new blog post or discussion forum thread, I go to a free stock photography photo website and download a relevant image to what the content is about. From there, I upload the image to Pinterest, then, use a speech recognition program to write a unique description with relevant hash tags to what the pin is about. Once the unique description and image is intact and uploaded, I go back and add the relevant link from the site within the Pinterest description source section, in hopes that people will repin the pin and I can build organic traffic that way. Over a three-month off and on research of my own, I’ve discovered traffic organically picking up using the awesome power of pinning new content with relevant images to Pinterest. I would definitely recommend this way of “building organic traffic for bloggers and affiliate marketers.”

  23. I personally have been successful with Facebook ads. Thank you for the great post! I will be trying something new!

  24. Alexa says:

    It’s an awesome idea! I think that everybody will get successful using your ideas. Thank you!

  25. Amy Zuan says:

    i don’t thing, ppc is suitable for bloggers!! PPC really helps online business entrepreneur

  26. Nathan Brook says:

    A very well presented article about ppc for beginners as I am also a beginner so I can understand the worth of this article.