Go to any marketing agency to improve your Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) sales and one of the first things they will bring up is SEO. Don’t get us wrong, SEO is massively important to any business's marketing strategy. But oftentimes there’s some confusion between SEO and Paid Search and where wineries should be focusing their dollar bills.
Consider a customer who is looking for quality Hunter Valley Shiraz wine. What are they going to do? Google it (or Bing it). The first results that show up will likely be from tourism websites for people going to the Hunter Valley. If not tourism sites, the next top sites will be for the big-name drinks retailers - you know who they are.
It’s bad enough that the little guy often loses out on a sale because the bigger name brands can provide a cheaper version, it's even more annoying because they take over the search results.
But herein lies the confusion. Some people are under the impression that you need to pay to rank higher on Google search results and that’s not necessarily true - unless you want those results to be advertisements.
So should you include SEO or Paid Search in your marketing budget plan? And what is the difference between SEO and Paid Search? Here are our two cents.
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a process of improving traffic to a website from search engines. In the early days of the internet, website owners could rank on page one of Google Search by simply adding keywords to website title tags or within the actual text of the website’s content. Things have gotten a bit more complicated. Google and other search engine providers have bots that “crawl” websites for information. These bots catalogue or index websites and landing pages so that they can serve the most correct information to a user.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
SEO is organic. Technically, there is no cost to appearing in search results. However, it costs money to hire someone to build a website or write website content. Some of this you can probably do yourself, but hiring an expert can increase the chance of great results.
How Can You Improve Your SEO Ranking?
Google’s algorithm is constantly updating, but the main thing that you should focus on is the quality of your content. Make sure that all the written content on the site is clear, helpful, and easy to understand. Think about what the person you want to come to your website might search for and include that search term in your written content. But be smart. Don’t clutter every blog post and “About Us” page with numerous keywords or try to trick the algorithm by putting up fake pages. Google’s bots will spot this and downrank you. Don’t use images in the place of titles, especially titles that include search terms you’d like to rank for, as the bots can’t technically “see” these.
Gone are the days when articles had to be 2,500 words long to show that the article was an authority on the subject. Longer articles can help, but if a visitor is only skimming and bouncing away from your site, the bots record that. That user behaviour proves that your website did not provide value to the visitor. As a result, your ranking will take a dip. The best thing to do is focus on your niches, what makes you stand out from your competition. And optimize all of your content for mobile. All of it. Make sure your pages load fast and can be read on a mobile device. If you don’t optimize for a good mobile experience, you’re going to lose out.
What is Paid Search?
Paid Search or PPC (Pay Per Click) is a process of paying to show up in Google Search through Google Ads. By utilising Google Ads businesses can bid on certain keywords so that a link to their website shows up next to or above search results. You are paying to show up in search results, hence Paid Search. Sometimes Paid Search and SEO are lumped together in a marketing spiel. The marketer will say you need to spend $XX to improve your SEO and because you might not know what SEO is, you agree without doing the research. Paid Search is paid and SEO is organic.
Will Paid Search Improve SEO Rankings?
No! And any marketer who says otherwise may be trying to pull a fast one. Google’s whole mission is to provide search users with the most relevant results. If businesses could pay to appear higher in search results that could result in users being directed to websites that are not relevant.
True, your website can become an authority in a particular space through effective paid search campaigns. However, if someone has an ad-blocker up or your SEO is terrible, there’s no point in spending heaps of money on Paid Search to “improve SEO”. You need a good website with easy-to-read content that provides users with valuable information - like the information on your latest wine club offer.
So Should You Invest in SEO or Paid Search?
It’s up to you where you spend your money. However, a policy of using both SEO and Paid Search can give you the best chance of bringing traffic to your site and increasing potential sales.
But sometimes your money could be better spent on improving your website or email marketing or eCommerce platform for long-term increased DtC sales.
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