Whether a business uses pay-per-click paid search strategies or search engine optimization, the goal is the same – to drive more traffic to a website. In the early days of digital marketing, SMBs had as good a shot as larger competitors to use search advertising effectively. But the metrics are starting to change and SMBs are looking for better ad strategies, sometimes returning to traditional formats.

When PPC advertising first started, SMBs found it was an affordable and effective alternative to traditional advertising. Writing for the New York Times, Darren Dahl recently showcased the difficulty smaller businesses are having now that large businesses are bidding up the cost of keywords. If the average search advertiser spends $10,000 a month on PPC, their budget is performing less and less effectively when industry giants like University of Phoenix can spend over $30 million in 6 months on the format.

Industry operators like Google encourage SMBs to really work at the quality of the search ads and key words they are using. Everyone else is doing the same thing, though. And, unless a business operates in a unique niche, the competition for the best words will only increase. The online community is filled with tales of businesses who have backed away from PPC. Even Google notes that small businesses can have a bigger impact by using less expensive strategies like social media to drive consumers to a website. SMBS are sometimes shifting paid search to specific platforms or sites. And they are also creating content with good keywords which improves the traffic to their sites while costing a lot less money than paid search.

Other SMBs have noted that with so much competition and increased costs in the paid search market, they are redirecting “advertising dollars to print, television and radio.” This trend may prove lucrative for media sales reps looking to emphasize the benefits of the traditional format they are selling.

[Source: Dahl, Darren. Small Players Seek an Alternative to the Expense of PPC. NYTimes.com. 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2012]