Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are distinct activities that are often viewed as opposites. We think of them as complementary with one before the other. Search marketing is best considered in phases, with an overall goal in mind — like a road trip with multiple stops on the route to the destination.
Stop 1 — Pay-Per-Click Marketing
An important advantage of starting with PPC is that it provides data for analysis — data that is quick and relatively easy to obtain. Unlike SEO, which usually takes a good three to six months to see results, PPC delivers insightful feedback within weeks. For this reason, we suggest running a PPC campaign before starting an SEO campaign in order to gather keyword and ad copy data.
Keyword Data: A key part of PPC campaign management is reviewing the terms that users are querying in the search engines to find your site. From this data, you can determine which keywords are working and which are not. Keyword data is invaluable because identifying and utilizing the correct keywords paves the way for a successful online marketing campaign.
Ad Copy Data: When it comes to ad copy, the same principles apply: determine what works and keep doing it; determine what doesn’t work and modify it to see if it improves. In effect, always be testing. The best part of PPC is the immediacy of data and the ability to test new ideas quickly.
Stop 2 — Search Engine Optimization
Now, let’s use the data we’ve collected from the paid search campaign and apply it to the search engine optimization campaign. What works for PPC often works for SEO. Rather than travel down a road with no knowledge from past experiences, wouldn’t you prefer a guide for your journey?
Keyword Optimization: From your PPC data, you can determine the keywords with the highest conversion rates. Rather than targeting terms solely based on their search volume (which is often the case with organic search campaigns), target terms according to their performance. Use the PPC data — keyword impressions, clicks and conversions — to determine the best-performing keywords for your offering.
SEO Meta Tags: By testing and re-testing your PPC ad copy, you have determined the copy that converts best. Now, take that knowledge and apply it to SEO. We suggest incorporating well-performing ad copy into elements such as the meta tags. If an ad headline produced good click-through rates, it will likely perform well as a title tag. Don’t waste time reinventing and rewriting — reuse what you already know works best.
SEO-Optimized Content Pages: The same principle also applies to landing pages: what worked for PPC will likely perform for SEO. Use elements of your successful paid landing pages, and apply them to site content pages. Optimizing a landing page for a specific keyword can be a daunting exercise, but developing content is easier if you have a successful landing page as your template. Don’t reinvent the wheel: if you know what appealed to prospects in paid search, use it for your organic search as well.
Stop 3 – A Coordinated PPC and SEO Strategy
We started with PPC, which laid the groundwork for SEO. With the data derived from paid search, we’re on a path to a successful organic campaign. Next up: an ongoing, combined PPC and SEO strategy. Thinking of PPC and SEO as complementary components of an online marketing campaign will deliver greater results than either tactic applied alone.
Increase Exposure and Brand Awareness: A single month sees 13.7 billion search engine queries in the U.S alone*, and the first page of the search engine results page (SERP) is the most valuable real estate in cyberspace. Combining SEO with PPC allows you to double your visibility on that results page, and the added exposure can increase traffic as well as create the impression that you’re a key player in the market.
Combat Negative Press: When the Gulf Coast oil spill occurred, negative news about BP was everywhere, including all over the search engines. If someone searched on a term related to BP, they were bound to see a negative story or complaint. In situations like this, combining PPC and SEO can help. An aggressive combination of PPC and SEO can push the negative coverage down on the results pages, which may lead searchers to a landing page where the company can effectively express its own point of view about the issue.
Complementary Parts of an Online Marketing Strategy: PPC advertising and SEO are two powerful techniques for harnessing web traffic, garnering clicks, generating conversations and, ultimately, creating sales leads. While each has different strengths, the two complement each other and when used together, can deliver greater results than each could alone.
Our recommendation: start down this roadmap today, and you’ll be on the way to an integrated, online marketing strategy.