Traffic is the lifeblood of websites. It’s what fuels conversions, sales and brand awareness. It’s what eventually fuels marketing’s ultimate goal – engagement-to-conversion. But how do marketers effectively continue to drive traffic? Is it via search engine optimization (SEO) or paid search, also known as pay-per-click (PPC)?
Both take a significant portion of the marketing budget. According to Forrester, over the next five years paid search and organic optimization will top $45 billion by 2019. But, at the same time, PPC and SEO are known as a dilemma on the minds of many marketers who look to balance their budgets in order to crack the code of engagement-to-conversion.
What is often overlooked is the power community plays in driving that traffic. In fact, community can be your key to putting the turbo in your SEO strategy.
The Value of SEO + User Generated Content
The user generated content (UGC) in your community is pure gold for SEO. The UGC in your community is long-tail content that continually “self-updates” and is highly relevant for what your customer (or potential customer) is looking for because it’s written by real people for real people. The UGC in your community also uses natural language and real terms that people would type in a search engine. Not marketing jargon. Community is the online destination where customers and prospects talk about your products/services and where they can find real answers quickly, which, in turn, benefits your SEO efforts.
The Lure of PPC
In the pressure to reach customers or present a better offer before competitors and to meet acquisition targets, taking time can seem too risky. PPC offers a quick cure for those brands who want to jump to the head of the line and reach customers where they are immediately. This can be great for short-term campaigns. However, marketers should be aware that a recent Lithium survey found that one third of Americans said they don’t trust advertising to give them information about a product or service they are interested in buying.
PPC is no doubt a big investment because marketers see it as one of the only search tactics to create unique content. However, now with Community UGC and the organic traffic it produces, PPC should not be seen as the only option.
The power of Community
In a sample of Lithium’s retail customers, we compared community traffic from SEO with website traffic from SEO. The results are telling: the average percent of community traffic from SEO was 62%, while the average percent of website traffic from SEO was 37%. This means that the community SEO sourced traffic was 68% better than that of the websites.
This is why a study by webmarketing 1|2|3 says both B2B and B2C customers believe that SEO is twice as effective as PPC or Social Media Marketing (SMM) for lead generation. Don’t get us wrong, PPC has its place and will always be a part of the marketing mix. But what we have seen is that organic SEO can be extended and amplified by having a thriving online community with UGC. So marketers can reach a greater amount of customers at a lower average acquisition cost via organic SEO from websites and communities and then use PPC to scale.
SEO is also less costly than PPC in the long run and it makes sense to maximize its full value by using community as a fertile source of content.
It requires time, but the investment is worth it. Communities can indeed put the turbo in SEO.