SEO and PPC have many areas of overlap and can compliment each other really well – yet as separate teams we’re not collaborating and communicating as well as we could to get the best for our joint campaigns. In fact, in many circles SEO & PPC are seen as competing forces – this article outlines 14 ways in which running complimentary campaigns can add significant gains to campaigns…
1. Leveraging PPC’s Keyword-level data for SEO
When Google decided to remove keyword-level data in Analytics it was problematic for SEO. We no longer knew which keywords were bringing in the traffic, and more importantly which were resulting in conversions. By running a PPC campaign in unison, we can link Adwords to Analytics to once again get this data to make smarter on-page optimisation decisions as an alternative to the lack of information we now get for organic keywords.
Ben Acheson puts it nicely: “PPC can be used to target keywords that are not yet ranking organically. PPC can be used to collect data on a huge number of keywords – revealing the keywords that drive the most revenue in order to inform organic search campaigns, for which data is typically more scarce. Organic impressions and click data can be used to sanity check Adworks monthly volume data, in order to gain a more accurate picture of keyword priorities.”
Yauhen Khutarniuk, Head of SEO at SEO PowerSuite goes one stage further by suggesting you should run PPC ads BEFORE deciding on your organic keyword set to ensure you’ve picked the right ones:
“It’s not enough to rely on search volume or competition — you need to test drive your keywords with AdWords.” – @hutor04
#ProTip: If you are just starting out, both Google & Bing Advertising offer free credit to new advertisers – simply register Google & Bing Webmaster Tools accounts – so make sure you get the most from this opportunity.
2. SEO Naturally Uncovers High Performing Long-tail Keywords
Naturally a site will organically rank for lots of keywords outside of a documented/tracked keyword list – some of these may convert well or attract lots of interest. Google is great at understanding synonyms and semantic meaning and some of this information is available in Analytics that can be synthesized and used in PPC campaigns.
Typically when building PPC campaigns we’ll look at suggested keywords that are traffic-heavy (and usually have a “purchase ready” skew). Monitoring niche phrases and long-tail keyword terms that the site is ORGANICALLY ranking for which bring in high quality traffic (cross reference these with engagement metrics to find out which ones), we can start to expand out the PPC keyword set to include otherwise-ignored keywords to crush the competition.
3. Use SEO to Concentrate on Expensive PPC Keywords
In some industries (such as insurance and loans), targeting some keywords in PPC is simply not cost-effective. By communicating these keywords to the SEO team, they can place extra emphasis on getting the site to rank organically for these terms and use the PPC budget for more cost-effective terms.
By obtaining a list of the more expensive PPC terms, the SEO team can factor this into their keyword list to get the client organic exposure so that the PPC team can pause ads for that keyword and redistribute the budget elsewhere, or where budget is available, look to get both organic and paid placements on the first page.
4. Real-time Experiments
The problem with SEO is the delay between actioned optimisations and bottom-line impact. Meta data tweaks won’t show until Google re-indexes the site, on-page optimisations for a keyword won’t impact rankings for a while and so on.
The beauty of PPC is its instant nature – tweak ad copy and 5 mins later you are getting visibility, click and conversion data – and likewise with bidding on new keywords. This means you can test certain hypotheses in PPC to get an idea of performance before rolling them out in SEO campaigns.
Beyond Adwords, display advertising can help us understand what imagery is most appealing to our audience. Split testing image ads with different USPs can give us info on what messaging really works, which can then be used on site.
For example, we recently ran an experiment on a client’s website designed to test how product order/sequencing affects conversions by sending some ad traffic to a product page with products sequenced in order of most relevant/best sellers, and other ads also going to the same page with products ordered by increasing price.
PPC traffic was split between the two and within several weeks we found out that the page with products ascending in price converted at a much better rate (albeit with a slightly lower average basket value) than the original. We then made the decision to roll this out site-wide and have seen very positive results since. This would not have been possible with organaic traffic only as we’re not able to specify which version of the page Google sends traffic to.
5. Learn from Ad Copy on High Performing Ads
When creating meta-data for a client we follow best practices – keyword prioritisation, appropriate CTAs, formatting etc. but there is a balancing act between optimising messaging for humans and optimising for search engines.
By experimenting with ad copy for a given keyword, offering or page we can better understand what resonates with humans by measuring click-through rate and translate these findings to our meta-data.
“The ads that get the most clicks usually will give you a good idea of what meta data to use” – Neil Patel
6. Leverage Other Forms of PPC To Hit Your Organic Goals
Thanks to Larry Kim of Wordstream for this contribution: With Google’s increasing use of blended results in search, capturing traffic has transcended beyond dominating those “10 blue links” on page one. For example, videos have been a staple within results for some years now and can be a great way to attract clicks to your content and increase brand awareness. However, in order to get your videos to rank in search results for relevant searches, they must exhibit positive engagement signals such as comments, likes and views.
YouTube and Trueview ads can be a strong way to drive traffic and viewership to your videos and help get them ranking in blended search results.
7. Assisted Conversions
When creating a PPC report or SEO report for clients we always include business-level results. Astute clients know that rankings and traffic means nothing if it’s not converting into sales/leads/enquiries etc. Some months either SEO or PPC may under-perform (i.e. not bring in as many leads as projected) but if we can show that the channel ASSISTED in final conversions from another source we can show this to the client as an example of the campaign continuing to work behind the scenes. This is particularly important in industries and niches where there are often many touch points before a sale (such as high ticket items or high investment services).
On the flip side, when running both SEO & PPC for a client we can not only show them how well campaigns are performing individually, but also how both disciplines are helping to boost conversions for one another (in a kind of 1+1=3 effect).
8. Match Ad Copy With Landing Page Headline and/or Content
Scent trails are important in conversion optimisation. If a visitor clicks on a result (whether a PPC ad or organic listing) they expect to be taken to a page that closely matches the message in the result – if it doesn’t, the visitor might bounce. This same scent trail needs to continue right through to the end of the conversion path for optimal results.
The trouble is, the PPC team spends time perfecting and testing ads but often have little control over the destination page’s (i.e. the landing page and beyond) messaging/CTAs/headlines. They don’t typically have access, nor authority to edit a client’s website …but the SEO team usually does! Therefore through teamwork, a mutually beneficial landing page headline and copy can be agreed that gets results for both teams.
9. Improve PPC Quality Score
In addition to scent trails, the ability to edit landing pages has another benefit for PPC. The SEO team is responsible for optimising site pages for organic search but by communicating with the PPC team they can optimise for Ad quality score at the same time killing two birds with one stone.
Improvements in quality score means potentially lower costs for ad placement. Lower costs means more budget for reallocation, such as help with promoting content for SEO purposes…
10. Sitelinks For Promoting Key Content
In an age of content clutter, cutting through the noise to get eyeballs on client content is difficult. No eyeballs = no links/traffic/shares/sales so paid amplification is one way around this. However, justifying additional spend on content advertising platforms to clients can be difficult.
Allocating a small budget on Adwords devoted to content promotion is an easier sell but including a link to content within sitelinks means no additional spend at all – and with the right content it can also improve conversion rate too!
11. Using PPC to Capture Search Demand (if organic exposure slips)
Google is fickle. Search results are constantly fluctuating and algorithm updates can send things into a state of flux. On top of this, sometimes website changes don’t have the desired outcome – all of these can mean hero keywords lose visibility at the drop of a hat.
If the SEO team is on their game, they’ll notice any major changes in terms of lost keyword visibility and can quickly communicate with the PPC team to temporarily plug the gap – either by increasing keyword bids or setting up relevant ads from scratch.
Additionally, if SEO is really struggling to gain ground for a competitive keyword, PPC can be there to ensure favourable visibility for hero keywords indefinitely if necessary.
12. Drawing Hard-Earned Visitors Back To The Site
Thanks to David Haraldsen of SiteLadder for this contribution: Organic search can help bring new users to a site that may not convert on their first visit; implementing a remarketing campaign is a great way to incorporate PPC into your overall digital marketing strategy and bring back that hard-earned traffic so that they might convert second time round. Don’t let visitors simply leave never to be seen again.
Remarketing helps you serve compelling ads to people who have already been on a website to you top-of-mind until they are ready to purchase and offers then an easy journey to pick up from where they left off.
As Wordstream’s Larry Kim puts it: “Use organic to drive visitors to your content and familiarize themselves with your stuff. Chase them down with remarketing so they remember you and buy stuff from you later.”
13. Brand SERP Dominance
Bidding on branded terms seems counter-productive to many. If you rank #1 for your brand name, why pay for ads? Well there are many benefits in doing so including more control over your SERP message (often the first touch point for a new customer), taking up more SERP real estate muscling out competitors trying to bid on your brand… (More: read the full 8 reasons here).
By working together, SEO and PPC can work out which pages convert better than others and bring those to the fore in the form of site links, trial messaging that resonates better with humans (without modifying optimised meta data) and bring conversion actions right into the SERP such as click-to-call & app download (mobile only) as well as showcasing reviews.
14. Bonus: For Marketing Agencies & Freelancers Only
- Blending SEO & PPC reports and insights together make for much richer reading from your client’s perspective. Showing a more rounder approach to campaigns and considering more touch points will differentiate you from competing agencies
- Your case studies used to attract more business will also be far richer for the above reasons.
- Rather than both teams having to carry out the laborious task of keyword research or competitor analysis, you can designate one person to keep on top of it and communicate to both teams
- More heads involved on joint projects mean more ideas for better campaigns
Hopefully, this article has given you some food for thought. I hope that you are able to call a meeting with your SEO & PPC teams tomorrow and thrash through a few of these ideas for better results for your business or clients. I welcome any comments, additions and questions in the comments below – and if you found useful, please consider sharing on social media!