How PPC helps SEO in a Post Not-Provided World

Editor’s Note: Conductor launched TrueTraffic in September 2013, the technology solution to Not Provided. TrueTraffic calculates the traffic and revenue generated by individual keywords based on visibility, demand, and behavioral models. In this guest post, Aakanksha Wadia, a search manager at Lowe Profero, shares complimentary and creative ways to leverage paid search data to uncover the organic keyword data that Not Provided obscures.

PPC and SEO in Collaboration

On September 23 2013, Google updated their Search product and made all Google searches secure. This means that Google is encrypting all organic keyword search activity, which prevents marketers from seeing what keywords website visitors used to find their site.

In other words, instead of seeing the keywords in Google Analytics, webmasters will now see “Not Provided” across 100% of activity. In Adobe’s Sitecatalyst, they will see “Keyword Unavailable.”

not provided

So what does this really mean and how do we tackle this? Rand Fishkin provides great insight on The Moz Blog. In this post Not Provided world, it is imperative that PPC, Analytics and SEO work together to create successful SEO strategies.

‘In the post 100% (Not provided) world, the shift SEOs have undergone is moving from a keyword centric world to one that is content/page centric. In addition, one interesting byproduct of losing keyword data in analytics is that rankings have made resurgence as a metric.‘ Says Nathan Safran, Research Director at Conductor, in a recent interview.

Below is a compilation of few points showing the benefits of referral data, what the implications of Not Provided are and how PPC can work alongside other tactics  overcome some of these challenges.

Make content or page improvements based on search queries

Referral Data Benefit

  • When searchers enter a site through a query, webmasters get valuable information that can help make content decisions.
  • Based on the bounce rate for that query, webmasters can determine if there is a need to expand any content.
  • Similarly, by tracing the path users take through the site, webmasters can optimize that query for another more relevant page.

Not Provided Implications

  • Increased likelihood of a bad user experience: Not having visibility into search queries makes it harder to see if users found what they were looking for.

How PPC can help

  • Identify high volume keywords that PPC is driving to the page and marry that with Analytics data to determine top keywords for each page that have a low bounce rate and good performance.
  • Testing: If pages are similar, test a set of keywords through Adwords, combine the results with post click activity to determine the optimal landing page experience.

Optimize keywords that drive engagement and conversions

Referral Data Benefit

  • The main aim of a business is to increase customer base and user loyalty. Having referral data for SEO helps marketers identify and optimize keywords that drive higher conversions or strong engagement.

Not Provided Implications

  • Poor return on investment and possible decrease in user loyalty: With the change, site owners must turn to alternative methods to measure success such as page-based metrics beyond the tried and true keyword focus.

How PPC can help

  • Identify keywords that drive conversion and engagement though PPC and use that data to optimize pages through SEO.
  • In addition to improving current rankings, it’s also important to identify new possibilities. These keywords can be tested through Adwords to identify conversions and engagement.

Identify traffic drivers for a page

Referral Data Benefit

  • An important objective of SEO is to identify all queries that are driving prospects to a page, filter them based on the goals and optimize the page for those keywords so they can appear higher in the search results.
  • Not only is it important from a website’s perspective, it also allows searchers to get relevant content sooner in their search process.

Not Provided Implications

  • Inability to improve performance and ranking: Not having access to this data will result in sub-optimal performance for a website – a page might not be visible for a relevant search, or a less relevant page might show.
  • This won’t just affect the baseline for a website; it will ultimately lead to loss of relevant content for users.

How PPC can help

  • PPC can be used to identify keywords that are high traffic drivers for a page, and also to test keywords that might seem relevant for that page.
  • It will also help identify which keywords are competitive. Those that are highly priced probably have a lot of competitors bidding on them. This helps SEO determine possibility of ranking high for that query.

Understand how users perceive brand/content

Referral Data Benefit

  • Having access to referral data helps webmasters understand how users perceive brand and content. This can be an important input in making decisions about the brand since the website is one of the main touch points.  User intent is visible online, and shows how they are interacting with the business.

Not Provided Implications

  • Potential loss of evangelists: If users know the brand but aren’t able to find information they’re looking for, it might cause dissatisfaction. Given the fact that anyone can broadcast through social media these days, bad press can become a big issue.
  • It is imperative to see brands from the eyes of the customers to ensure there aren’t disconnects in perception.

How PPC can help

  • SEOs can use PPC keyword data  to fill gaps left by Not Provided to better understand the keywords searchers are using.. They can also identify any change in search behavior and incorporate these keywords in the content to increase relevance.Identify keyword opportunities

Referral Data Benefit

  • Referral data is not only important for identifying the top traffic drives, but also gives insight into those long-tail keywords that help build content. This helps bridge the gap between what users want and what the business is offering.

Not Provided Implications

  • Loss of content expansion opportunities: With the inability to see the long tail, its now harder to expand the website and match its offerings to the need of customers.

How PPC can help

Clearly identifiable metrics to prove the value of SEO

Referral Data Benefit

  • Referral data can help show the importance of SEO for a business by having visibility into the full process of optimization from keywords identification/discovery to page ranks.

Not Provided Implications

  • Marketers moving away from investing in SEO: With this change, it will be harder to justify and show how SEO is performing since any lift in traffic can not be directly tied back to SEO.

How PPC can help

  • PPC can be used to give insight into SEO efforts. Looking at data from paid search visits when both paid and organic listings reference the same page and are listed together on a SERP.

Other tools that can help

In addition to integrating PPC with SEO, there are other tools that can be helpful for keyword discovery. Avinash Kaushik lays down a few options in his blog post about Not Provided.

Google Webmaster Tools: Provides keyword level data that you can use to tell which keywords are driving traffic to the site and what the click-through rates are.

Google Keyword Planner: Helps with keyword discovery based on either the site or a set of keywords. It also provides volume and keyword competitiveness. To be able to use this tool, you need an Adwords account.

google keyword planner

 Google Trends: This tool helps identify what keywords are trending, i.e. what users are searching for the most and can be applied based on the business category.

google trends

Bing Referral Data: For the time being, Bing is still providing referral data for keywords. This data can be used to get an idea about keywords for Google as well, although search behaviors may not be very similar between engines.

SEO Platform: Conductor, the leading enterprise level SEO platform, provides the most accurate ranking results by integrating click-through rates and search volume to provide a weighted traffic estimate. Conductor also has global support and tracks rankings on Baidu and other major search engines[CS1] .

Learn about Conductor’s Paid and Natural Explorer: integrating paid search data into organic search management for deep competitor analysis and budgeting insight.

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