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Organic SEO and paid search – often treated as completely separate disciplines, as if they were chalk and cheese.
While the notion that spending more on PPC will increase your natural keyword rankings is a myth, the truth is that the two are not without crossover. In fact, rather than a mere possibility, the advantages of integrating SEO and PPC make an cohesive approach a necessity for a fully-informed search marketing campaign.
Mining AdWords for keyword data
Let’s start with the most obvious. Why wait months to push keywords onto page one, only to find out that they don’t convert?
Running a PPC campaign on your target keywords will show whether those keywords have the potential to convert. Furthermore, broad and phrase match keywords will produce longtail matches that may even convert better than the more competitive head terms.
A well-optimised PPC campaign will tell you in days or weeks what you may not find out for months with organic search alone. Let PPC dictate the keywords you optimise for organically and ensure that your natural search campaign provides the maximum ROI.
Use longtail organic traffic to inform paid keywords
While PPC is great at suggesting keywords for SEO, the opposite can also be true. By setting up keyword suggestion reports in Google Analytics (as found in this post by Emma Barnes), longtail keywords appear in query reports which restrictive PPC campaigns may have missed.
The above custom segment produces a list of keywords providing traffic without including brand terms, nonsense keywords and keywords which are overly long.
To see the queries, navigate within Analytics to traffic sources > sources > search > organic.
Apply successful ad copy to meta data
This one is my favourite. If you’re doing PPC the smart way, you’ll have identified the keywords that convert and you’ll be testing ad copy to improve your click-through rate. Increasing your share of the paid traffic available is the logical next step once you’ve achieved a desirable return on ad spend.
Once you have drawn conclusions from these experiments, introduce the winning ad copy into your meta description to improve the CTR of your organic listings.
For example, if ‘huge range of styles’ works better than ‘huge range of brands’, make sure your organic search snippet includes this text as well as your paid ad copy.
Landing page optimisation
With fast results and strong keyword data, PPC tests can show how a landing page performs for users who type a specific keyword, with none of this nasty (not provided) malarkey to skew the data.
A/B testing allows the smart site owner to conduct experiments to see if conversions are affected by certain tweaks, while splitting the results down by search query will show the best keywords to optimise for in an organic campaign.
Of course, you can use organic traffic to run landing page tests, but this relies on your page ranking well enough to give you a reliable data set and unless you have the luxury of thousands of visitors per day, you’ll probably have to wait a while for the results.
Conversion rate optimisation
If your ad copy is well-optimised it will include a strong call-to-action. Whether it’s intended for paid or organic traffic or both, your landing page should also include a CTA designed to convert browsers into buyers.
Running a test to see which CTAs work better in otherwise-identical ads will give you a major clue as to which button copy will trigger the desired response from visitors. Using this data to influence your button copy will help your CRO efforts.
Another reason to run SEO and PPC together: 1+1=3
Finally, many people need convincing that they need to run paid search ads if they’re already ranking well organically. Granted, PPC isn’t for everyone, but the incrementality in terms of traffic that the two provide together is certainly an attractive proposition.
Official figures from Google show that up to 96% of clicks can be incremental when organic and paid listings appear together.
This evidence shows that when paid and organic listings appear together, 1+1=3. By doubling the amount of SERP space taken up by your listings, sites often see more than double the traffic.
Additionally, our internal tests have shown that while turning off brand ads has seen the organic listings pick up the lost traffic, the same does not apply to revenue. For whatever reason, those who were willing to spend money after clicking a PPC ad are more cautious with their spending after arriving via an organic listing.
When SEO and PPC work together, the incremental benefit can make a real difference to the bottom line of an online business. Adopting the techniques and strategies described above means that the potential benefit of an integrated SEO and PPC campaign is even greater.
I’m sure there are more wonderful ways SEO and PPC can help each other out and I’d love to read your tips in the comments below. Best tip wins a prize*.
If you’re interested in a free SEO campaign analysis or PPC account audit, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
*Prize may not exist