There are basically two ways to get listed in search engines. You can pay to be listed (sort of, I’ll explain in a bit), or you can optimize your website to appear higher in the listings.
One good analogy to explain the difference is to look at the websites like books in a bookstore.
With the modern search engines, you can have a paid listing, though you’re technically don’t pay to be listed. Instead of paying every time your ad is shown, you only pay every time your ad is clicked on. This system is referred to as pay per click, or PPC. This does not involve ranking, but involves bidding on keywords and key phrases.
This option is similar to a publisher paying a bookstore to have a display up front. In our hypothetical situation, a publisher could arrange with a bookstore for the store to be paid every time a book is sold, but not pay for the display itself.
Optimizing Your Website
The “natural” way to get your website listed in search engines is to just have good content that gets picked up for specific words and phrases. Maybe you set out with those specific phrases in mind and write your content with the goal of being listed for those phrases. That’s what we refer to as optimizing your website, though there’s a bit more to it than that. This is the option that involves search engine rankings.
This option is similar to a book being written to be appealing to readers, and hitting the best seller list. It’s a self-feeding cycle. The more people that read it, the more people hear about it and want to read it. So they buy it and read it, and the cycle continues when they tell their friends.
Which Is Better?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. However, you can do some optimizing yourself without spending a lot of money, simply by blogging. There are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind, though.
- The blog must be installed on your website. For a blog to significantly help your search engine rankings, you can’t just link to a free blog on Blogger or WordPress. However, WordPress and others like it can be installed on your server. This means the search engines will see that your website is updated every time you blog, which helps your ranking. And that leads us to…
- You must blog frequently. The whole point is that it’s much easier to update your website often. So both for your readers and the search engines, you should blog on at least a weekly basis. It’s even better if you blog a couple times a week.
If you have the budget and it’s really important to you, you should probably try both of them. However, you should track which of the two produced more (and better) traffic, and then shift your spending so you spend more money there.