In the dynamic world of digital marketing, PPC and SEO experts can find themselves bumping heads, both tackling different digital avenues to drive traffic and conversions, but rarely utilising each other's interdepartmental skill sets.
Why is this? Well, it can be due to many reasons, but perhaps the most obvious is due to a lack of knowledge - it's common for many specialists to only focus on their specific channel.
Another reason may be that PPC and SEO integration is not being utilised as much as it could be. How many times have you heard: 'Here is our SEO team and over here is our paid team'? The winning companies are those that are looking at digital marketing as a whole rather than simply how much traffic one channel can drive. Working towards the same goals with a collaborative approach always trumps working in silos.
Lack of integration means that communication falters. To further understand what each other do, share new findings, opinions and discuss wins, losses, communication needs to be at the forefront to make sure SEO and paid work hand-in-hand.
Push and pull marketing is a great place to start.
Just as a recap, push marketing is the idea that products are promoted 'pushed onto the consumer'- paid ads are a prime example of this. Whereas pull marketing draws customers to the product, a user finding this on a search engine for example.
The search results are a battleground of push and pull marketing influences, with Google displaying ads in creative new ways, and search engines providing a better experience to their users through organic results, it means either or can be favoured.
However, it is essential to tackle both avenues; this increases the chance of your user converting; most know this and are already orchestrating it, indirectly helping one another. Here are some examples...
Push marketing helps create the demand; for example, a user might see a display ad about leather jackets, then searches 'leather jackets for men' on Google - pull marketing then satisfies that demand.
Now let’s say a user does some research on 'best mens coats to buy in winter', then reads a a great informational piece of content, found via an organic result, that leads them to make a decision on a parka jacket. The user searches 'parka jacket' and gets visual ads with a display of prices through Google Shopping ads and continues on to buy a reasonably priced jacket.
This is how push and pull marketing work in unison.
Understanding the benefits and hindrances of PPC and SEO can help companies align their strategy, spreading the budget accordingly to maintain or increase traffic and revenue.
However, understanding the positives and negatives for a digital channel can indicate where you might need support for your strategy by leaning on one or the other.
Mapping out these pros and cons should help you see where SEO and PPC can align to help you build a killer strategy.
Search and paid teams rely on each other, more than they probably know.
When it comes to spending money, it is essential that web pages provide the best performance experience for users. Nothing is worse than optimising your ad copy to see dwell time and bounce rate hinder conversion. One of the biggest issues here is site speed; especially as users are becoming more demanding. Research, conducted by Google, indicated that bounce rate increased by 32% when pages loaded in three seconds, compared to those that loaded in one.
This is where SEOs come in, as an essential ranking factor for Google; page speed should be a focus for any business. It is critical to map out the URLs that will be a target for paid campaigns and make sure they are optimised for page speed.
Quality score is the overall estimation of the quality of your ads; this includes many aspects such as landing page relevance because quality score checks how well that page correlates with the ad.
On-page optimisation is precisely that, optimising the page to target a specific keyword, this can be quality content, well structured and organised headings, clear navigation to the converting point or end goal.
For PPC this can lead to lower click prices and better ad positions, making a paid expert’s job much easier.
SEOs undertake hours of keyword research for clients, with tools such as Ahrefs and SemRush, keyword research can become seriously in-depth.
SEOs don't have the ability to be as reactive by testing keywords that convert, instead identifying trends and search popularity is the best indicator.
Sharing keyword research could identify new trends for paid and organic targeting. When it comes to keyword data there is a bit of crossover, which leads onto the next point...
Keywords can be categorised into commercial or informational - it is obvious which phrases are likely to convert; however, which commercial phrases convert better?
In comes PPC with all its data!
It is likely that PPC has been a focus for a client before search optimisation, due to its instant results. This provides a wealth of conversion data, that is great for SEOs because this can be used to influence the overall strategy.
As Google doesn't provide organic keyword conversion data, it is hard to get exact data on which keywords are converting, however, if you combine keyword research insights with PPC accessible conversion data you can focus on targeting keywords that have been proven to convert, while identifying trends and seasonality spikes, to adjust the strategy.
We have already seen the benefits of aligning PPC and SEO data; sharing this can provide a better idea of how users are searching and converting. Use this to become the master of seasonal planning; that way you can get a better idea on where to best place resource.
PPC and brand bidding can be important and effective when needed, competitors usually like to try to bid on competitor brands that have high search metrics.
However, bidding on a brand when it is unnecessary could be seen as wasteful, causing headaches for SEO as it can skew organic data.
Not only that, why spend money on branded clicks that would naturally be clicked via organic results? Here's an example...
MyProtein bid on its brand name, however, as there are few competitor ads and MyProtein has a strong organic result in first position for its brand name, this budget could be used more efficiently. It’s not to say that they have not already tested this but looking from the outside, there may be areas that could be optimised around brand bidding.
Safe Store is a good example where bidding on branded terms is needed, as most competitors bid on Safe Store terms.
A reactive approach has to be applied when monitoring competitor ad placements on branded terms by monitoring brand traffic daily - which most SEOs will be doing. This allows you to evaluate your brand traffic, where branded keywords have dropped could indicate where competitors paid campaigns have come into play.
We make use of an in-house tool which helps monitor when people are bidding on branded terms, however, there are other solutions out there to track this and keep on top of when brand bidding is needed. SEMrush provides a great solution. The Ads History report can be found within the keyword analytics area of SEMrush and shows who has been bidding on a specific keyword over time.
The above table shows the ad history for ‘myprotein’ it’s also possible to dig into these further and see the actual ad copy.
This works for defending branded search, but can also be useful to make sure organic and paid are working together in the most efficient way possible.
Branded terms are quite simple to cover, however, it gets a little bit more difficult with non-brand, especially when you are working with a large data set, however, making use of the SEMrush historic ads report, alongside Search Console data, will provide some useful actions.
We would first suggest taking any keywords that rank position 1-3 from Search Console or your rank tracking software, to find where you are ranking well organically. Next export your paid data to find the exact same data and marry these up to find all of the keywords that are performing well organically, but are also being bid on via paid channels.
The more competitive a keyword is, the harder it will be to turn off PPC, even when you are ranking in the top position for the term. If we look at a term such as 'protein powder', we can see there is a lot of competition in paid positions.
This is the type of term where turning off PPC would be difficult, however, if it was a much longer tail term, where the site in question is ranking position 1-3, we would suggest running tests around budget to see how traffic to the page changes via organic channels.
Testing, it’s not always a simple science and does depend, as it always does on the keywords in question, as well as who else is bidding. We would suggest running tests in small batches, reducing paid spend on keywords that are performing well organically, and seeing how traffic/conversions differ over those tests.
PPC and SEO can help each other through collaboration and data sharing, to align and create the perfect digital strategy. Not working alongside each other could be placing a hindrance on understanding your consumer and driving revenue through either of the traffic funnels.
Be collaborative, whether you are an SEO or PPC specialist, go out of your way to use inter-departmental skill sets to achieve the best results for your business.
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