PPC & SEO: Complementary Tactics

Leveraging PPC Data for Your SEO Efforts

Implementing a solid search engine marketing program can be a great way to boost your website’s visibility. The idea of delivering a relevant message to users who are in the active search state of mind is both valuable and appealing to marketers and brands. After all, if users cannot find your services or solutions online, they’ll visit another site to get what they need.

But should you allocate a portion of your marketing budget toward purchasing terms for instant (paid) rankings on Google, Bing or Yahoo with a PPC campaign? Or should you invest in making strategic content updates to improve your site’s organic rankings over time with an SEO program? While there certainly are differences between PPC and SEO, they should not be thought of as this versus that, or exist in silos. Instead, leveraging both has greater benefits from a visibility and strategic standpoint in both the short and long term.

Kicking Off Your Efforts with PPC

A PPC campaign can help your brand gather critical information in a much shorter period of time. One of the many benefits of PPC (outside of its impact on brand marketing) is the ability to build campaigns that allow advertisers to bid on a wide variety of keywords and variations. Such a program helps a site gain instant visibility in the paid results for queries that are highly representational of the brand.

A tool like Google’s Keyword Planner can provide estimated average monthly search volumes, competition levels, suggested bids, and more insights into the types of terms you’d like to target. It also provides ideas for new terms that you might not have considered. This is incredibly helpful for building your PPC program and estimating initial performance. But once your campaign goes live, you could see that terms you didn’t think would perform well are rather popular with your audience.

Think of PPC as a live testing ground – one that provides valuable insight into the actual queries users are using to find your site, which terms are generating a meaningful experience and which messages are driving traffic. And once you’ve gathered enough sufficient data to make actionable decisions, this information can be applied to your SEO efforts.

Transitioning into SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the process of making changes – both on and off a website – to improve visibility and rankings over time for relevant search queries within the organic listings of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As previously mentioned, PPC allows advertisers to target a wide variety of search queries and variations. With SEO, you are limited in the number of keywords per page. While you are encouraged to use variations (instead of repeating the same phrase over and over), you should narrow the list to a few core terms for each page. If you’ve started your initiative with paid search, this portion is much easier.

Here are some quick tips for incorporating PPC findings into your SEO strategy:

  1. Identify your top performing PPC terms over time, for example: those with strong click-through or conversion rates, or those that generate good site interactions.
  2. Implement these terms into your SEO plan via key on-site content elements and off-site channels.
  3. Determine the top performing text from the ads in your PPC campaign.
  4. Incorporate the messaging, benefits and CTAs from these ads into your on- and off-site content strategy.

Once the site has been optimized, and each page reflects the perfectly optimized page, continuing your paid search efforts can help your site remain visible for its target terms as the SEO efforts gain traction. Also, having a site that’s optimized with the terms from your paid search campaign can improve the correlation between the keywords, ads and landing pages – improving the overall quality and relevancy.

Finally, it’s important to note that in the world of search, there should never be a “set it and forget it” approach. PPC and SEO programs should be consistently monitored in order to identify what’s working, what’s not working, areas for improvement and areas to optimize in order to get the most of your SEM budget.

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