Your paid search and organic search efforts have a word in common; that should be a pretty good indicator that they’re intertwined if not interdependent. But if your teams aren’t talking to each other and letting one data set inform the other, you’re missing out: PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) lend each other complimentary intelligence and value.
Both can have great converting power, and each have their upsides. PPC is predictable; it’s reliably present in the search results as long as you’re paying for it. But sometimes, you’re really paying for it — PPC can be prohibitively expensive.
In fact, the Search Agency’s newly released 2013 Q4 report, we can see that PPC is on the rise:
SEO, on the other hand, won’t go away if you suddenly cut off the cash stream. However, ranking in SEO arguably takes more time and SEOs must be conscientious of best practices to avoid penalties.
Organic search drives higher performance for branded terms and revenue, but PPC drives more for non-branded (according to this study). According to a study we conducted in June, nearly half of all website traffic comes from natural search.
Clearly, each channel has its own benefits and drawbacks. The smart marketer unifies these perspectives in his or her overall digital strategy, leveraging SEO and PPC together. But how do you go about doing that? We’re sharing four different tactics to help you break down those silos and elevate your digital strategy.
1) Spend More to Make More (Keywords)
Let’s start with the obvious. If you have the capital, use one good investment to make another.
Think of SEO and PPC campaigns as giving you twice the keyword data you would have otherwise. Have an organic term that’s performing well? Optimize it for PPC, and vice versa.
We’d go into more detail, but Nathan Safran has a great post on this already: How To Leverage PPC To Discover High-Converting Keywords For SEO.
Think of SEO and PPC campaigns as giving you twice the keyword data you would have otherwise.
In the below screenshot, you can see Amazon is using SEO and PPC together in this way, dominating the SERP in both organic and top paid positions for the illustrious [Harry Potter snuggie].
2) Make Your Budgeting Strategy Responsive
If you don’t want to balloon your spend with option one, you can play SEO and PPC off of one another to get more bang for your click. Isolate expensive PPC keywords and then optimize those to rank well organically. Once you have presence in the natural search listings, you have the option to lower or stop bidding on those terms and save budget for other things.
If you don’t want to balloon your spend with option one, you can play SEO and PPC off of one another to get more bang for your click.
With this strategy, you still occupy valuable turf on the SERP. You also don’t have to depend on your hefty PPC spend to occupy that lucrative space. On the flip side, PPC can provide security for volatile search terms and protect you from some of the negative effects of big algorithm changes. As long as you keep spending on your PPC budget, you’ll stay present in the SERP.
You can see this strategy in action in the [Harry Potter snuggie] SERP shared above: Hot Topic is not bidding on this term but holds real estate organically, and, inversely, My Snuggie Store holds its place through a PPC since it does not rank organically.
3) Create Parallel, Optimized Landing Pages
Many sites serve up PPC-optimized landing pages; these landing pages are typically more conversion-centric.
These landing pages ensure that the messaging of the PPC ad and the page copy match. They also keep things simple and straightforward: the purchase path is clearly laid out and optimized for purchase-ready buyer. These landing pages significantly boost conversion rates. (Unbounce has a great resource on building PPC-optimized landing pages here.)
If you’re having success with a PPC-optimized landing page, make sure you’ve got an organically-optimized landing page for the keyword as well. Make sure that you’ve also got a buyer’s journey for early-stage, researching users; you can accomplish this by focusing on content, for example.
If you’re having success with a PPC-optimized landing page, make sure you’ve got an organically-optimized landing page for the keyword as well.
Check out the different landing pages Travel+Leisure has for the query [travel magazine].
Paid landing page:
Organic landing page:
As you can see, the paid result is conversion centric: the PPC ad takes you straight to a subscription form. The organic page provides many more options, including early-buyer’s cycle content (advocated by Nathan Safran here, and exemplified by REI here).
4) Enhance your content strategy
When you use SEO and PPC together, you’ve got double the opportunity to test and perfect compelling copy and calls to action.
Got a paid or natural listing that’s doing particularly well? Use it to enhance your other campaigns.
Already condensed and assertive, PPC copy is great material for crafting your organic calls to action and metadescriptions.
On the reverse side, utilize long-tail organic keywords to find negative keywords for your PPC campaign (hat tip to Jason Lancaster of Spork Marketing for mentioning this on a Moz forum).
SEO and PPC Together: Breaking the Barrier
One way or another, it’s crucial to open a channel of communication between your SEO and PPC efforts. If you don’t break down the silo, you can end up unnecessarily exerting twice the effort on keyword discovery and content creation. You will miss out on the opportunity for one channel to inform and optimize the strategy of the other, bringing in more conversions, smarter budgeting, and a better-informed marketing team.
If you don’t break down the silo, you can end up unnecessarily exerting twice the effort on keyword discovery and content creation.
If you’re a customer of Conductor, you can compare SEO and PPC together with Searchlight’s Paid and Natural Explorer. Here’s a view sorted by click-through rates: