On the surface, PPC and SEO feel like they have different strategies, theories and expectations behind them. And it’s because of this perception that they are often siloed away from each other, even within the same company.
It’s easy to put the SEO team and their long-term strategies on one side of the office and the PPC team with their endless data charts on the other.
We saw this just recently at SLC|SEM. This year, they divided all the presentations up and covered PPC topics the first day and SEO topics the second. This was met with a whole lot of conference-goers saying: “I’d love to go to the conference this year, but I only have interest in one topic.”
The organizers’ response to this was simple: “No, you can’t get half price to go to only half of the conference. Your ticket covers both days. So you might as well expose yourself to something new.”
And despite the fact that both days were covered in the ticket price, some people only attended on the day that seemed relevant to their side of the PPC/SEO world.
This may have been a big missed opportunity for those people, because we’re about to see why the integration of SEO and PPC can lead to a lot more value that just one without the other.
Why SEOs Need to Consider PPC
In most situations, organic search engine optimization will still drive the most traffic to your website – especially over the long run.
However, Google continues to change its focus, and paid search marketing is continually driving more clicks and, more importantly, more sales. SEOs can’t ignore this anymore, because these changes in focus continue to push organic results further down the page.
SERP Real Estate
The integration of SEO and PPC really comes down to owning more first page real estate. SEO agencies have been saying that for years, and Google has practically doubled down on that fact.
The thing is, no matter how well you dominate the organic results, someone could appear above you in the paid results for no more effort than it takes to choose a keyword and provide some text and some credit card numbers.
Now that Google displays all paid results above your organic rankings, they’ve pushing that highly desirable #1 spot further down the page. Local results, information blocks, and shopping results may even push that #1 spot right down below the fold.
Simply put, being number one in organic isn’t what it used to be.
Now, you may be wondering if that’s something that a person who works at an SEO company should say. Well, first, we also do PPC. Second, nothing in this blog is going to say one is better than the other. SEO and PPC can and should always work together.
Start by Supporting Each Other’s Keyword Research
Keywords are definitely the element that each discipline has in common, but they come at it in different ways. That being said, the way that SEO and PPC utilize and research keywords can benefit each other.
SEOs can get pretty creative in their keyword research. They can determine which words the site is already ranking for and the pages that are getting the most traffic. From there, they can do a little more research to find new keyword opportunities and map them to the right pages.
This information can be passed over to the PPC strategist who can use if for the initial stages of keyword list building and segmenting.
Coming from the other direction, the PPC specialist can take the results of these campaigns and pass the data to the SEO specialist so they can see what’s working and what isn’t.
This can show how subtle changes in keyword focus could make a huge difference, and it’s the kind of thing that would take weeks or months to find through SEO but can be tested very quickly with a paid campaign.
Using One to Inform the Strategies of The Other
There are several ways you can use the data from one campaign to inform the strategies of the other.
The keyword data in Analytics has been somewhat hampered in recent years, and that means we’ve had to find new ways to get the data we need to create the most effective campaigns.
Now, we can get the data we need by watching traffic and conversions and shifting the focus from pure keywords to effective pages and better conversions.
Combining SEO and PPC will help achieve the better listing positions and maximize traffic – and make no mistake – traffic and conversions is always more important that rankings.
For example, it’s possible to use the organic data we still have to find out which keywords provide a lot of conversion value. This can be discerned by looking at the pages that have been converting pretty well.
You can then test these theories in PPC to see if you’re right, or how some simple changes in titles and messaging could increase the conversions on that page.
PPC, then, gives you the opportunity to test several ads with different titles. As you see which ones perform better, you can take the characteristics of those ads to improve your landing pages.
It’s also possible to get plenty of data from post-PPC-click actions. You can find out:
- How much time they’re spending on site?
- What is the bounce rate?
- How many pages do they visit?
- Which ads let to more conversions?
The pages that are working well can be further optimized to provide even better results because now you know a little something about customer behavior, intentions, and locations – all of which makes your audience more identifiable.
SEO Benefits AdWords Quality Score
The Quality Score is a critical component of a good PPC campaign, but, like many other Google measures, it’s hard to say exactly how it’s calculated. We’ve talked about Quality Score before, so for now let’s just say that this is what Google uses to determine the relevance of your ad and the page connected to it.
As you apply SEO best practices to your pages, you will naturally build their relevance and quality. SEO is about providing quality content, answering important questions, and making the pages as direct and useful as possible.
When the SEO elements are in place, you can tie your PPC ads to them and start seeing much better results.
At the same time, a PPC specialist may notice that certain pages have low Quality Scores. They may have low click-through rates, the titles may not match the content well, or it may have a really poor load speed. The PPC team can share this information with the SEO team to make sure these pages get the attention they need (which will lead to better rankings).
Use PPC to Test SEO
You might make some changes to your pages to try to improve conversion or engagement. However, you may not have enough traffic to effectively test that page.
It’s possible to create an ad campaign specifically to send traffic to those pages. You simply have to prepare your tests and see how the traffic interacts with the page.
Every element can be tested this way, from the titles, to the forms, to the body copy.
Remarketing to Organic Visitors
If you’re working on an extensive content marketing strategy, a remarketing PPC campaign can help people stay interested in it. Remarketing allows you to target people who previously showed interest in your content and approach them with a new eBook, whitepaper, or even a relevant blog.
The thing is, as your SEO efforts start to pay off with higher rankings, that doesn’t necessarily mean your high-conversion pages are the ones they’ll see. Nor will it mean that these casual searchers are ready to make a purchase.
However, you can follow-up these strategies with a remarketing campaign and make sure your brand stays in their mind.
Getting More Clicks
Just because you’re paying to appear at the top of the search rankings, it doesn’t mean people will automatically choose your ad. Many people still prefer organic to paid results, treating ads with suspicion and granting organic results more authority and relevance.
However, some studies have shown that there is an incremental increase in ad clicks when you have an associated organic result on the page.
But don’t just assume. Always keep an eye on Webmaster Tools and see if your organic listings are getting more clicks when there’s an ad on the page
This way, you can up your PPC spend when necessary or stretch your budget out further when your organic leads are carrying the weight of the campaign.
Sharing the Load
Sometimes, a single click for a major keyword is way too expensive. This is when SEO can come in and shoulder much of that load and position the website for large volumes of traffic.
At the same time, when you’re just getting started, PPC can get you listed quickly while you wait for SEO tactics to get you to the top.
Integrating the tools and strategies from each is how you will be able to make the most progress in the search engines.
It’s easy to believe that one or the other is the key to success, or that one can be successful without the other.
To an extent, there is some truth there. With enough effort and time, SEO alone can be very powerful. With enough time and money, PPC can get your site listed for every conceivably relevant search.
Together, however, they can lead to much stronger results.