Let’s talk about SEO…

I want to apologise to all the business owners that have spent their money on SEO. I hope that the efforts have been worth it so far; however if you’re spending money on SEO today, you should be questioning how much you’re spending and how much you’re getting back. Question whether it is working for your business, and if you think it’ll continue to work.

If it has been working well, I can assure you that you are one of the few people in this modern day with that accolade. Things are evolving on a daily basis within Google, who have rapidly changed the landscape around what can and cannot be achieved through SEO.

Google love to promote people that do things well, putting them at the top of the search engine and making it very hard to knock them off. This is true with both pay-per-click and SEO; trying to get the optimisation correct for commercial keywords has become a dangerous game.


The Story: An Independent Futon Company

I have a great example to demonstrate; I’m going to use this to set the scene for the remainder of this article.

I was having a debate with a website designer/SEO company a number of weeks ago. They have a customer that sells furniture: specifically, futons.

I pondered: is this company going to benefit from using pay-per-click? My answer to this question was simple: no, they won’t. This is due to the fact that 90% of their traffic comes from their SEO effort – this is a seemingly high statistic; however after investigating online I understood that 90% isn’t necessarily a large number in terms of clicks, and simply meant that nine in every ten clicks came from that source.

After putting the term ‘futon’ into the Google search engine, I saw that the SEO was 100% filled with companies such as John Lewis, Argos and IKEA; page two was also filled with companies of a similar stature.

This led me to trying out more specific keywords, such as ‘leather futon’, ‘sofa bed’ and ‘fabric sofa bed’; I found that the same companies were still dominating the organic search results.

What was interesting was that in each of the keyword searches I made, Search adverts and Shopping results from independent retailers would appear. We already know that the adverts (three at the top and eight down the side) are sponsored links; this being said, Shopping results are also pay-per-click and are now paid for exclusively, appearing at the top of the Google search engine either directly across the top or to the right-hand side of the page.

In addition, the Search adverts displayed at the top and right-hand side of the page were mostly independent companies (some more sizeable than others) with the word ‘Ad’ beside them; however, the likes of John Lewis, IKEA, Argos, etc that dominated the organic space were not to be seen.



This made me question how the futon company, who I shall not name, were getting 90% of their traffic from SEO.

After looking on their website, I found they sell exclusive brands; specific brands often aren’t sold online by large retailers as they don’t retail them in store. This meant that when I searched for a specific brand, the futon company came close to the top of the organic search results.



I took the advertised brand names to the Google Keyword Planner, asking Google how many searches I could expect per month with an unlimited budget and an extremely high click price.

I learned that the keywords were very low in competition and search volume; in total, they were generating roughly 580 impressions for around 18 keywords a month. In context, this is around 15-20 impressions each day.

This presents a very high click through rate of around 10%: with the expectation of getting 1-2 clicks a day after optimising for the perfect response, it can be surmised that this a difficult environment to enter.



If I were to speak to the futon company, I would say the following:

By using pay-per-click campaigns, yes, they would be spending more money. The expenditure will be per click, but the cost of a pay-per-click campaign will probably be equal to the amount being spent on paying an SEO company.

By creating a pay-per-click campaign they could be ranked on page one results for high competition keywords such as ‘futon’, ‘small futon’ or ‘fabric futon’ – all the types of keywords that would drive phenomenal amounts of traffic to their website.

Furthermore, by using their website for lead generation instead of just aiming to get purchases online, they can get customers to get in touch with them quickly and easily, with extremely low click prices. E-commerce click prices generally tend to be less than a pound a click.

For lead generation, click prices tend to be around the region of £3.50 unless the competition is particularly high. By using e-commerce keywords for lead generation, leads should be generated very cheaply, then they should be marketed separately to these people.



I want all business owners to be aware of the fact that SEO is probably not going to be the best use of their time and money.

For the money it takes to develop and the time it takes to get results, opting for pay-per-click means spending a small amount of money and ultimately getting much more profitable results.

Within weeks, results will be visible; these results are highly likely to have brought business in this time, too. It’s worth bearing this in mind before opting for SEO as a first choice – the pay-per-click method generally suits most business models better, and should not be overlooked.

If you would like help with your PPC and to view the services Pro PPC provide, please visit our website.