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We all want our websites to feature on the first page of Google but with a limited small business marketing budget how do you go about making it happen?

Basically there are two ways to achieve it.

1.Search engine optimisation

2. Pay per click advertising

So how do you know which to focus on and where to spend your money?

Search Engine Optimisation

There are two aspects to SEO – on page and off page.

On page focuses on the things you need to do on your webpage to enable Google to find you when the appropriate search terms are entered. These on page elements include issues such as keywords  and meta tags.

The off page elements are the things you do elsewhere on the web to prove to Google that you are an authoritative site to which searchers should be directed. The most important of these is the external links coming into your site.

SEO is a complicated and expert process which will usually need to be outsourced to an SEO expert.

Pay Per Click

PPC advertising however is something which with a little bit of practice you can probably handle yourself.

PPC ads or sponsored links are the ones that appear on the right hand side of the page and at the top and which appear in blue.

Basically PPC is a bidding process in which you decide how much you are prepared to pay for a click. PPC is a skilled process and although there are lots of other criteria involved, as a generalisation the more you bid the greater your chance of appearing high up on the page.

While SEO is a long term strategy, PPC allows you to appear on the first page within hours of setting up your campaign..

An important thing to point out is the trust issue. People trust the organic listing more than the paid for. Research consistently shows that users are far more likely to choose the organic results rather than the paid advertising links.

On the other hand, PPC is an effective and really the only realistic short term way of driving traffic to your site.

But a word of warning. It is very easy to burn a load of money for little result if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The first thing you should do when you start out is to set a conservative daily budget – say £5 or £10 per day. When this amount has been spent you ads will stop being displayed. This allows you to assess the impact your campaign is having without risking too much money. If it’s working well, you can increase your budget.

The next thing you will want to limit is the geographical area your ads are shown in. If you operate in a limited area, you only want your ads to show within that area.

Equally important are the keywords you select. You must make sure that someone searching against those keywords is actually looking for the services or products that you sell.

Having said all these things when used as part of an effective small business marketing strategy, PPC can give your business a rapid boost.

To sum up – long term, SEO is the most sustainable and ultimately most effective way of getting onto that first page and it’s also much more satisfying to know that your website is ranked by Google to be worthy of its first page positioning as opposed to simply buying your way there.