If you're trying to promote a website online then you'll probably be familiar with two terms that can help you do this. The first being 'PPC' and the second being 'SEO'. As these are both acronyms they can be fairly impenetrable to the layman but are fairly easy to understand with a little bit of explanation. Once you know the ins and outs of each you can then decide which is best for your particular needs and where you should be channelling your resources.

'PPC' stands for 'Pay Per Click' which refers to a particular type of advertising. As the name suggests, this form of advertising means that the companies only pay when someone clicks on their advert. This is in keeping with a fairly new model of business that can be found in various forms in a selection of industries whereby the client only pays when they get a result with no need to put in an investment up front ('POD' or 'Print On Demand' is the same in the publishing industry, whereby printing companies only print copies, and therefore only charge commission, when copies of their client's titles are sold). By 'bidding' on how much you're willing to pay for each click, you can then increase how regularly your advertising shows up on other sites and search engines. The most popular PPC provider is probably still Google who will publish your adverts on their search pages (targeted to come up as 'sponsored links' only when people search for relevant keywords) and on the websites of their business partners.

There are many other popular options however with Facebook recently becoming quite a major player in targeted PPC advertising.

SEO on the other hand stands for 'Search Engine Optimization', which describes the various methods used by webmasters to get their websites to rank highly in the main search results on sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing without paying for the privilege. This is achieved by researching 'keywords' or 'keyphrases' ““ which are the terms that visitors search for regularly on sites. By writing the content on the site in such a way that it includes these precise phrases, webmasters can then ensure that Google recognises those articles as being relevant and brings them up when the users search for those terms or similar ones.

There is more to SEO than this however, and other methods involve changes the names of images and html files, and tailoring the meta tags to help the search engines' 'spiders' to find the pages. Another method is to ensure that lots of links on other sites point towards yours which can help the search engines to find it as well as making it look more important and respectable (the more highly ranked the page that links to yours is the more the link will be 'worth'). One of the easiest ways to do this is by submitting articles to article directories with links embedded in the text.

Both of these options have strengths and weaknesses. While PPC has a more immediate effect, it is limited to the amount of money you put into it; whereas SEO has the potential to generate massive amounts of self-perpetuated traffic for a short amount of money with a little bit of luck. One option then is to split the funding across the two methods in order to draw traffic in in the long term and the short term, or to learn to use SEO yourself rather than outsourcing the service for a bigger price (though you will likely get a more efficient service by using a professional service and will yield greater results more quickly). The correct method however will eventually depend on your business and on your personal preferences.

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