Whether you’re starting a new business or want to help your existing business grow, online marketing is a proven option. One of the keys to getting the most out of what you invest in online marketing is to choose channels that are the right match for your business. If you’re wondering how to go about making that match, the best method is to get a better understanding of what each of the most popular channels can bring to the table:

Organic Search Engine Traffic

While algorithmic changes can cause rankings to shift, the great thing about this channel is that once solid rankings are established for your site, you can generally expect a steady stream of traffic. If you have a local business, Google+ is a must for sending traffic to your site.

Another reason is that most of the traffic that comes from search engines like Google and Bing is very targeted. The only real downside to this channel is it can take some time to initially establish rankings for a new site, especially if you are in a competitive market.

PPC Advertising

You may have wondered why the section above was prefaced by the word organic. That term refers to traffic that comes from search engine listings that show up in the main area of Google or Bing. But as you’ve probably noticed with both search engines, they also have additional listings that appear at the top and on the sides of their pages.

Those listings are pay per click ads. They give businesses the ability to create ads, and then bid on the display of those ads for specific keywords. As this channel’s name implies, payment is only required when a click is actually made. You can also choose, however, to pay for impressions. This is particularly helpful if you are just trying to raise brand awareness.

The main strength of this channel is it can begin sending traffic right away for difficult keywords that you otherwise would not rank for. The downside is that if you’re not careful, it can get very expensive in no time.

Social Media

Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest provide a way for businesses to actually connect with people who may be interested in what that business sells. These channels can also be used to provide support to current customers.

While social media does provide the opportunity for one-on-one interactions, its potential drawback is that it can take a significant amount of effort to gain any type of traction with users. More than ever, search engines are paying attention to what happens on these social networks to dictate rankings. So it’s important to establish your presence on these sites and constantly interact with fans.

Social media can also be a great place for ads. Both Twitter and Facebook have several different types of ads you can invest in. Some businessowners would even say they provide a higher ROI than search engine ads.

Now that you know the strengths and weaknesses of the main online marketing channels, you’ll be able to decide where it makes sense to focus the most resources for your business. As you may have guessed, many businesses find that the best strategy involves utilizing all three of these primary channels.