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SEO and PPC – making the correct choice



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How do you ensure that potential customers come across your business at the right stage of the buying process? Digital Marketing trainer Ethan Giles of explains.

Ethan will run the Digital Marketing Skills course on March 25th and 26th at Prolific North’s HQ on Princess Street, Manchester. We turned to him to provide a bit more detail on SEO and PPC strategy ahead of the session.

Each day there are 5.6 billion daily searches on Google alone, which provides a great opportunity to increase your website traffic, if you employ the right strategy. 

But what is the right strategy? Consider that these potential customers will be in different stages of the buying process – some might just search for information or inspiration whilst others might have already made the purchasing decision and are now comparing their options. 

There are two main ways you can take advantage of search engines – SEO or PPC. Both have their merits and both have their challenges, so make sure you understand them before you define your strategy.

SEO & PPC explained

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) means you work on your website to ensure it is tailored towards users’ search queries. For example, if somebody searches for “SEO training Manchester”, Prolific North would want people to find their website as it is relevant for their training session. SEO is focused on the ‘natural’ search results – those results on the search page that are not paid for.

Pay Per Click (PPC) is a form of advertising that search engines like Google offer in a number of different forms. With PPC, you tell the search engine what search terms or keywords you want your ads to appear for, and write relevant advertising. As the name suggests, you only pay when your ads are clicked, and you decide how much you’re willing to pay.

SEO – the benefits

It’s free!

That’s right, you don’t have to pay to do SEO – apart from the cost of time of course. 

Unlike PPC, you don’t need to pay to appear in the ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ search listings, you just have to be well-optimised for user searches. Even tracking tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console, which allow you to measure your SEO effectiveness, are free.

You can be creative

There’s an opportunity for you to be creative, as a big part of SEO is content and writing good quality content that users will care about.

This will help you stretch your business’s creative muscles. In addition, the usability of your site, including what it looks like and how it works, are important for SEO.


Organic results attract 88% of all clicks. So if you neglect your SEO and don’t appear often or consistently, and rely on PPC instead, you’re missing out on the vast majority of clicks and therefore a high proportion of potential customers.


It’s not enough to simply have a website and expect this to be an effective SEO strategy. If you do your SEO properly, this will allow you to remain competitive and can often allow you to punch above your weight against larger competitors with bigger budgets. 

SEO is about doing something really well, not about spending more money.

PPC – the benefits


Unlike SEO or other forms of advertising such as print, radio or TV, PPC allows you to directly target your customers by defining when your ads are shown and to who they are shown to. 

There is no other form of marketing that is so effective at targeting relevant and engaged potential customers.

Cost effective

You manage your own costs and pay only per click. This means you can ensure that you only pay enough to ensure your ads generate an effective return on investment. 

Unlike traditional forms of advertising, you have greater control of how much you spend, what you spend it on, and ultimately whether that spend generates results or not.


PPC can generate instant results. If you were to set up a campaign now, you could expect to start seeing website visits within hours. This means that you can spend money and expect instant results without having to spend a long time working on campaigns.

SEO – the downsides


It can take a long time before your SEO efforts start to generate results – changes you make today could take up to six months to start working. If you’re looking to make a big difference in a short space of time, then SEO won’t be an effective strategy for you.


SEO can often appear complex to newcomers – it combines multiple skillsets such as creative writing, web development, data analysis and even graphic design. 

However, with expert training or expert support, SEO can often become easier as these complexities are explained or managed.

Lack of control

Unlike PPC, you do not directly control what search results you appear for. While you can optimise for particular terms, ultimately the search engine decides what is relevant and what is not. 

You also can’t control international targeting, so you may appear in search results in countries that are not relevant for your business.

PPC – the downsides


The amount you have to pay to get clicks for ads will be defined by your competition and how much they are willing to pay. So if you are up against competition with bigger budgets or with a lack of understanding of their own profit margins, you may be quickly priced out of securing customers.

Too much control

Small changes you make could make drastic differences to your bottom line. For example, you could increase your budgets tenfold in just a few clicks, or show your ad for irrelevant searches or in a location you cannot serve. 

Google provides some security against this, but it’s recommended that you get proper training from experts before you pursue PPC.

Time investment

To get PPC right, you need to invest time to manage your campaigns. It’s not as simple as setting your campaigns up and leaving them to run without further changes. 

PPC requires management and optimisation and things can change daily depending on your marketplace. This means that PPC can soak up time as well as the cost of the clicks. However, there are intelligent things you can do to avoid spending a long time within the PPC platform and it’s important that you prioritise on the things that will make the biggest difference.


Now that you’re aware of both advantages and pitfalls of SEO and PPC, let’s get back to the initial question, which one do I use? 

The answer is, it depends. I wish there was a simple, universal answer but this is the beauty of it: it depends on your objectives. 

What are the needs of your business? How much time can you invest? What’s your budget? And do you have the right skills in-house?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you might even look at a combined approach where you use both SEO and PPC together. In my experience, there are massive benefits to managing them holistically as it allows for the advantages of one to make up for the pitfalls of the other. “

If you could use with more hands-on advice on search marketing tailored to your business, Ethan hosts regular workshops at Prolific North where we delve into just that. Browse the next available sessions here.

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Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate




A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


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Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users



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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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Google’s Next-Gen AI Chatbot, Gemini, Faces Delays: What to Expect When It Finally Launches




Google AI Chatbot Gemini

In an unexpected turn of events, Google has chosen to postpone the much-anticipated debut of its revolutionary generative AI model, Gemini. Initially poised to make waves this week, the unveiling has now been rescheduled for early next year, specifically in January.

Gemini is set to redefine the landscape of conversational AI, representing Google’s most potent endeavor in this domain to date. Positioned as a multimodal AI chatbot, Gemini boasts the capability to process diverse data types. This includes a unique proficiency in comprehending and generating text, images, and various content formats, even going so far as to create an entire website based on a combination of sketches and written descriptions.

Originally, Google had planned an elaborate series of launch events spanning California, New York, and Washington. Regrettably, these events have been canceled due to concerns about Gemini’s responsiveness to non-English prompts. According to anonymous sources cited by The Information, Google’s Chief Executive, Sundar Pichai, personally decided to postpone the launch, acknowledging the importance of global support as a key feature of Gemini’s capabilities.

Gemini is expected to surpass the renowned ChatGPT, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, and preliminary private tests have shown promising results. Fueled by significantly enhanced computing power, Gemini has outperformed GPT-4, particularly in FLOPS (Floating Point Operations Per Second), owing to its access to a multitude of high-end AI accelerators through the Google Cloud platform.

SemiAnalysis, a research firm affiliated with Substack Inc., expressed in an August blog post that Gemini appears poised to “blow OpenAI’s model out of the water.” The extensive compute power at Google’s disposal has evidently contributed to Gemini’s superior performance.

Google’s Vice President and Manager of Bard and Google Assistant, Sissie Hsiao, offered insights into Gemini’s capabilities, citing examples like generating novel images in response to specific requests, such as illustrating the steps to ice a three-layer cake.

While Google’s current generative AI offering, Bard, has showcased noteworthy accomplishments, it has struggled to achieve the same level of consumer awareness as ChatGPT. Gemini, with its unparalleled capabilities, is expected to be a game-changer, demonstrating impressive multimodal functionalities never seen before.

During the initial announcement at Google’s I/O developer conference in May, the company emphasized Gemini’s multimodal prowess and its developer-friendly nature. An application programming interface (API) is under development, allowing developers to seamlessly integrate Gemini into third-party applications.

As the world awaits the delayed unveiling of Gemini, the stakes are high, with Google aiming to revolutionize the AI landscape and solidify its position as a leader in generative artificial intelligence. The postponed launch only adds to the anticipation surrounding Gemini’s eventual debut in the coming year.

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