SEO Vs PPC – The Black Friday Discussion

Nov 25, 2013

Black Friday is the superbowl of sales days as stores ramp up their advertising in hopes of scoring big in the form of consumer purchases.  The advertising dollars spent to gain consumers attention are staggering, all in an effort to get a piece of the $54B spent by 226 million online and in store shoppers.

 What about you, the business owner?

What can you do to compete with the tv commercials, the radio ads, and the full page spreads by the major retailers?  It won’t be easy.  Chances are you are coming to this party a little late.  You will be fighting for eyeballs in a sea of advertising as consumers are bombarded via  every available marketing channel.   But there are a few places you can get an edge, if you have a strategy and a commitment to follow it.  I will touch on a few of the strategies we will use with our clients this shopping season, but first, should you be using SEO or PPC as a small business for black friday sales?

WM_SEOvsPPC_Infographic_r1Let’s talk about adwords, Google’s PPC program.

Adwords offers an impressive level of management and targeting but the average PPC (Pay Per Click) user is not going to get close to knowing the best way to optimize their PPC campaign.  And many businesses have had expensive experiences with adwords leaving them reluctant to try again.  Pay per click via adwords means an advertiser will pay Google every time a viewer sees the ad on a search page and clicks on it.

As a baker, I may run a ppc campaign to promote my holiday gift baskets being offered at a discount for Black Friday.  I set up the campaign in my Google adwords account, selecting keywords that best target my audience and creative ad copy to help further target the most likely purchasers.  A consumer goes online search for a local bakery to deliver holiday baskets and they find your ad.   They might just see your number and call you, or they could click on your ad to investigate further.  You get charged, and they get the information they want.  (It’s important you have custom pages made for your keywords to improve your effectiveness).

What’s great about PPC?

You can target geographically and you can get results immediately.   For small retailers, that’s strong enough for you to consider allocating a budget towards PPC marketing for black friday.  What’s not so great?  If you are not careful, you can waste a lot of money in a PPC campaign.  Best to consult a local expert to help you setup your account.  And Adwords offers a free consultation and may even help set up your account for you.  But I have found they often set up a very broad account that can lead to more wasted dollars than necessary. The other issue with PPC, is the cost of competing for spots 2-4 in competitive markets for competitive terms.  Again, if your budget is limited, your target should be narrow.  And good or bad, you can turn on and off PPC (or run out of money) whenever you want.


This is a great tool from Adwords that allows you to retarget consumers who showed interest in your business but navigated away.  With remarketing, you can get your ads back in front of those searchers giving them another chance to choose you.

What’s not so great about SEO?

You can’t just turn it on and start getting leads, search engine optimization takes time.   And it requires quality unique content as well as social marketing efforts for it to be effective.  More complex, and more time intensive, SEO is not the the way to get business right now.

So why bother?   When a web searcher goes online looking for a specific answer, product, or service they will go to the search page and enter a keyword phrase like “custom bowling balls”.  And if they want to buy it locally, they may add a location modifier like “…in West Palm Beach”.   If your website content is properly optimized you could end up on the first page even first 5 results.  You should get a click from that searcher assuming your result and your web page deliver what they are looking for.  Search results are clicked on more than PPC results.  Think about your own search habits…what do you click on most often?

SEO rankings last longer.  This is true…sorta.  If you are in a competitive market for popular keyword phrases, you can get top results and lose them if you don’t stay consistent.   Fresh and relevant are what you are striving for…

So SEO or PPC?

The answer is most likely both.  Seeing your business name in search results and a sponsored ad leads to an exponential increase in clicks.  Searchers citing trust as a key reason.  SEO takes longer and lasts longer, PPC is great for right now.    There are resources all over the web that can help you set up a successful SEO or PPC campaign yourself.  Or you can turn to a local expert to save you time and money.

What about other marketing for Black Friday?

I would definitely suggest targeted social marketing campaigns. Facebook ads and viral content as resources you can use right now to get some eyeballs on your products and services.

Maybe you go with PPC but it can only help you to generate interesting fresh helpful entertaining articles that can be found on social media that link to your website.

Take advantage of the traffic that hits your website. Give them multiple ways to join your mailing list, see special offers, upsells and addons.  Your website may need a touch up to improve effectiveness.  Nothing worse than spending money to market and when they arrive at your site they do not have enough confidence to buy.

Mailers flood inboxes this time of year, snail mail or email can get lost in the shuffle but this doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering for your business.  Direct Marketing pieces that grab the readers attention and make a clear targeted offer can be very successful.  (I was just at Beals enjoying 40% off thanks to an effective mailer)   And email and digital newsletters are a great way to reach out to those who have shown an interest in the past.  Show them some great offers and cool new products and you could earn some of their dollars.

There are many ways to be successful as a small business and a marketer for the shopping holidays.  What I have found is that the key to success is the commitment to success.  Dive in, give it your all, seek expert help and the odds will be in your favor for Black Friday sales.