A question many small businesses face when money is tight is whether to invest in pay-per-click (PPC) search marketing or search engine optimization (SEO). The answer, says Claudia Bruemmer in a recent blog post, is both. "Start a PPC campaign to gain visibility in the search engines and define the best keywords to target for SEO," she advises. "As you gain SEO visibility, you can reduce some of your PPC spend, but not all, because you need both PPC and SEO for best results." Here are some of her tips for planning a PPC campaign that bolsters your SEO efforts:

Start with smart keyword research. Many engines provide keyword tools. Select your best keywords—and understand your best matching options. Choose:

  • Broad match. This allows your ad to show for searches on similar phrases and relevant variations.
  • Exact match. The ad shows for an exact phrase exclusively.
  • Negative match. Your ad won't show for any search that includes a specific term.

Write compelling ad copy. Give users an incentive to click. "Compelling copy calls for benefits rather than features," Bruemmer notes.

Create actionable landing pages. Make your landing page specific to the ad and consistent with your keywords and ad copy. Focus on one action per landing page, she advises. "Landing pages don't have to be part of your website," she notes. "You can exclude them from indexing by using the robots.txt file."

The Po!nt: Don't waste time with either-or's. "SMBs need a balance of organic and paid listings for best results," Bruemmer concludes.

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