If Clicks Were Candy: Fill Up on Paid & Organic Search

By Beacon News | Published October 20, 2020 | Categories: Higher Education , Digital Marketing

If you’re evaluating your current digital marketing strategies or starting a new campaign from scratch this time of year, take a lesson from Halloweens past. Not the office Halloween parties of adulthood, but the thrill of trick-or-treating as a kid.

Think back to the candy. Remember which houses on the block had the good stuff? The chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, lollipops, chewing gum, cow tails, malted chocolate balls, the works. You knew to look for the houses with the lights on, the pumpkins on the steps, maybe even the cobwebs, skeletons and spiders on the lawn.Trick or treaters

All those decorations caught your eye and let you know that those houses had what you were looking for. Your prospective students are looking for the same thing when it comes to finding a college or university to suit their needs. So, when it comes to being the most competitive college on the (digital) block, you need to keep the lights on, carve those jack o’ lanterns, deck out the lawn, and, of course, stock the good stuff.

This means knowing how best to advertise in the digital space, and how balancing paid search and search engine optimization provides the kind of robust marketing strategy that will keep folks coming back, year after year.

PAID SEARCH (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)

Halloween decorationsJust like leaving the lights on and setting a properly spooky atmosphere lets everyone know you’re a prime destination for trick-or-treating, pay-per-click (PPC) puts you squarely in the sights of your target audience and lets them know you can offer them what they need. Here are some prime reasons to invest in PPC.

Increased visibility

Every second, at least 67,000 searches are performed on Google, and less than 5% of searchers ever click on links found on any link past the first results page. PPC, executed effectively, can boost you straight to the top of that precious, first page real estate.

Easy-to-measure results

To know you’re getting the most out of your campaign, you’ll want to be able to measure the success of your paid search ads. PPC allows for easy access to detailed data analytics, which lets you know when and how to adjust your strategy on the fly. From user’s geographical locations and preferred devices to reports on which pages users visited, the analytics provided by paid search give you incredible flexibility you won’t find with most other advertising tools.

More reliable return on investment

Even though the use of ad-blocking software has risen in recent years, pay-per-click advertising is incredibly effective at attracting serious users. Users who click paid ads are proven to have higher intent to make a purchase decision than those who click other types of ads, translating to a 150% conversion rate compared to organic search results. This means that PPC shines when a potential student or customer is ready to make a purchase or an enrollment decision. Other arguments for PPC’s profitability include:

  • According to powertraffick.com, for every $1.6 spent on Google Ads, businesses make $3 in revenue.
  • The top three ad results account for 40% of all clicks on the Google search results page.
  • You pay only for the clicks your ads receive.
  • No minimum budgets required; easily set your own pace and goals.
Need help getting the most out of your paid search strategy? Beacon can help. Request a complimentary PPC audit today.

ORGANIC SEARCH (Search Engine Optimization)

pexels-kristina-paukshtite-3095465.jpgPaid search ads may be a great way to put your college or university in plain sight, but like your porch light on Halloween night, cut them off and that visibility goes poof. Combining the high-visibility of PPC with search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to add a more evergreen element to your marketing strategy that delivers quality content to truly serve your audience. It’s the trust you build in the neighborhood. It’s the word-of-mouth from the community and your reputation as a trusted source of peanut butter cups, a college education or whatever it is you have to offer.

While this approach takes more time and commitment than paid search, its benefits are lasting, impactful and a great way to complement your PPC campaign. Here are just a few reasons to invest in SEO.

Greater traffic

While clicks on your organic content don’t yield the same likelihood of a purchase as a paid search ad, they account for more than 35% of all total e-commerce traffic worldwide. Paid search accounts for only 4%. This increased visibility is crucial in building brand awareness and establishing trust with users.

Widely trusted

According to highervisibility.com, anywhere between 70% and 80% of users prefer to pass over paid ads and go straight to organic results. When users are early in their decision-making process, they may want to take time and explore your offerings before feeling any pressure to make a decision. Taking time to build your organic content not only builds your credibility and reputation, it can also take that pressure off users while still providing them crucial information they will come to trust you for.

More cost-effective after start-up

Once you’ve laid a solid SEO foundation, you won’t pay for each piece of traffic like you do with paid search ads. Early start-up costs for an organic SEO campaign may exceed what you’ll initially spend on paid search, but organic search proves its worth dramatically over the long haul.


According to Smart Insights, 68% of all trackable web traffic comes not from any single tactic, but from a combination of both paid and organic search.

PPC and SEO both have their strengths and weaknesses, but each complements the other. So don't be the house with all candy and no atmosphere, or the house with all flash and no candy. Balance the high-visibility of PPC with the endurance and credibility-building of SEO to ensure your site is a can't-miss destination, both on Halloween and beyond! Talk to one of our experts about how you can start or update your SEO strategy or PPC campaign!

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