When it comes to SEO and PPC, you’ll often hear it’s an either/or choice you must make. Evangelists on both sides argue how their method is the best, when in reality there are many things that make both stronger when used together.
Real estate on search results is constantly changing. Depending on what you enter, it’s now a mix of organic results, paid text ads, product listing ads, local listings, Youtube videos, or more.
Why Make SEO & PPC Worth Together?
If you’re only relying on one channel, chances are there’s traffic being left on the table, especially if you already know which keywords, products, or landing pages convert well for you.
As ad platforms on new and existing channels get more mature, there is also more data at your disposal to make better decisions.
Lately I’ve been doing a few year-end marketing audits for stores looking at the whole gauntlet: order history, email lists, keyword rankings, paid traffic, link profiles, analytics, and much more.
It’s good housekeeping to do this on a quarterly basis to know where you stand and the direction things are going. Here are some high level takeaways you can get from cross referencing data from your PPC and SEO efforts:
1. Get Better Data With Integration
Remember Megazord from the Power Rangers?
(It’s about to get super nerdy.)
He was the combination of the five Dinozord robots:
- Tyrannosaurus (Red Ranger)
- Pterodactyl (Pink Ranger)
- Mastodon (Black Ranger)
- Triceratops (Blue Ranger)
- Sabertooth Tiger (Yellow Ranger)
On their own they were pretty badass, but together as Megazord they had a sword, shield, and could even shoot both fists as a projectile.
It’s the same concept with your online marketing tools.
Adwords, Webmaster Tools, and Analytics all have their own backend data systems.
Linking them together (along with Youtube) makes your depth of data an incredible beast.
Megazord, power up!
By combining PPC and SEO data, your Megazord is the Paid & Organic Search Report, where you can see how paid text ads are working together with organic search rankings.
To get started, you’ll need to link up Webmaster Tools ASAP because organic search data is only reported once they are integrated.
You won’t see any historical data prior to this, so even if you’re not running PPC now get everything linked up to have this down the line.
In the report, you can get insights on queries where only an ad was shown, both organic/ads, or just organic results.
One catch is that the organic data provided here is not filtered through the same targeting criteria with Adwords, so it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison.
Nevertheless you should get some good insights compared to not having them linked up at all.
- How To Setup Paid & Organic Search Results Report
- How To Understand Search Terms Reports In Adwords
- Why Google’s Paid & Organic Report Might Be Deceiving You
2. Have Clean Site & Campaign Structures
Remember games like Starcraft, Age of Empires, or Clash of Clans where you have to build a base and army?
Chances are if you skipped ahead and didn’t follow proper upgrades (aka “rushing), your base is now a huge mess that you have to spend time unwinding and fixing.
Like this one below, if you play Clash of Clans:
It’s quite similar when you start out with PPC.
With no proper structure and organization in mind, things can quickly get messy once you start bidding on dozens (or hundreds/thousands) of keywords.
You want to go in with a game plan on setting up your campaign structure, ad groups, which landing pages to use, and much more.
Budgets, locations, languages, and bid strategies are set at the campaign level so you’ll want a structure that’s efficient, avoids overlap, and allows you to easily manage performance.
Some things to consider:
- Is location important?
- How many keywords are you bidding on?
- Will you only do text ads?
- Youtube Ads?
- Power Overwhelming?
Your landing page also has a big impact on your Quality Score, which means you’ll want SEO elements like site structure, navigation, categories, and product keywords all optimized too.
Beyond that, there are conversion elements like copywriting, headlines, call-to-actions, site speed, images, and much more that can be tweaked to help both SEO and PPC efforts.
Putting some thought and discipline into this will save you headaches down the road, especially when it comes to having a team member trying to make sense of campaigns named “Boots 2013” or “Test 1“.
- 6 Steps To Building A Brilliant Paid Search Account Structure
- Day 21/100 Of Adwords Help: Naming Systems
- What’s A Good PPC Account Structure Anyways?
3. Optimize Your SEO With Adwords Data
In most strategy games there’s something called the fog of war.
Unless you explore that space, you won’t know what’s behind it.
A good strategy is to scout ahead to see what your enemy is doing, and build an army to counter the weakness of his base or troops.
With Google now encrypting all search queries in Analytics, there’s a permanent fog of war over your data that you won’t have access to unless you discover it with Adwords.
It can take months or years to rank for keywords, and if you end up optimizing for ones that don’t generate sales, all that hard work goes down the drain.
Your PPC ad copy can also help your SEO efforts by providing data on the right messaging. You can then use that data to optimize your on-site elements such as title tags and meta descriptions.
PPC is also able to give you first hand data on bounce rate, time on site, and average pageviews of new keyword ideas.
This is something that keyword tools can’t provide no matter how much research you do.
But remember…ROI is the bottom line, so don’t blow your PPC budget and SEO efforts purely chasing CTR!
- Why You Need To Use The Google Analytics Adwords Report
- Better Together: Analyze Adwords Performance In Google Analytics
- 5 Alternative Sources To Cope With “Not Provided” Keywords
- These Are The PPC Metrics That Actually Matter
- Put CTR In It’s Place
4. Create Better Retargeting Lists
Virtually every nightclub in the world segments people from the haves (VIP) and have-nots (normal admission).
For normal admission there is usually a cover charge no matter where you go, in exchange for a crappy fountain drink as a consolation prize.
Often times for VIP you can just get in knowing the right people or having a good male to female ratio in the group.
For Adwords you are paying for every click, whereas an organic search rankings yield more ROI over the long term.
That allows you to build a bigger remarketing list as you’re also tagging people from search results.
As you rank for more keywords, this plays out heavily over the long term. Used along with Customer Emails Lists in Adwords, you can get laser focused on targeting previous customers (Gmail, Youtube, etc.).
- Create A Customer Emails List
- Are You Making These Costly Retargeting Mistakes?
- Top 10 Retargeting Tips For Adwords Users
5. Increase Visibility For Bestsellers
In The Matrix Revolutions (3rd movie), bad guy Agent Smith has managed to copy himself and take over nearly every human in the Matrix, giving him complete control over the core network.
Neo is the only one that can stop him, and if he fails Smith will destroy everything.
Luckily when it comes to search results, you want to be like Agent Smith and dominate all the real estate.
That means more visibility, impressions, traffic, and ultimately sales to your site.
Screw the Oracle!
For products that are ranking organically and driving a lot of sales, consider dominating more real estate by creating PPC Ads.
Since landing pages are a big part of PPC, knowing which products already convert will give you a head start.
You can find this data in Analytics by going to Conversions -> E-Commerce -> Product Performance and set the primary dimension to Product SKU.
Then you want to determine your break-even CPC, given current conversion and profit margins.
That way you’ll know the bid levels you can play with, along with simulating some best-case / worst-case scenarios.
Some stores can afford to lose money on the first sale to get the customer in the door (i.e. supplements, subscription, or consumables), so it will depend on your business model and product margins.
Find a monthly number you’re comfortable starting out with and calculate the daily budget from there.
By protecting the downside and focusing on what already converts, you can dive in with much more confidence whether it’s remarketing, Google Shopping, Youtube Ads, or Adwords.
Do you know your average profit per order, lifetime value, and repeat purchase rate?
If not, it’s also time to do an audit on your sales history and customer data.
- How To Calculate The Ideal Maximum CPC For Adwords
- PPC Ads: Focus On Best-Selling Products To Improve Performance
- What’s The Best Practice For CPA, ROI, and Gross Profit Optimization?
6. Use Site Search For SEO & PPC Ideas
If there’s a super low hanging fruit for keyword ideas, it’s what people are already searching for on your site.
After all they’ve taken the time to stay, look around for products, and are now trying their luck in the search box to see if you have what they’re looking for.
For online stores that have hundreds if not thousands of products, your site search data can yield a wealth of information in keyword ideas to target for both SEO and PPC.
On the SEO side, they can help with title, meta description, and content ideas. On the PPC front, this can give you some new keyword ideas to try.
- Setting Up Internal Site Search Analytics
- How To Use Google Analytics Site Search Reports
Get Started Today
The first step you should do right now (if you haven’t already) is linking up your Adwords, Webmaster Tools, Analytics, and Youtube.
As online marketing becomes more complicated every year with new tools at your disposal, learning how to make sense of the data and identifying opportunities will give you an edge, while allowing you to get more bang for your dollars.
There are plenty of other ways to utilize both PPC and SEO together that are left out here: Mobile, Google Shopping, Youtube Ads, etc…It’s just too much to include in one post, so we’ll tackle that subject another day.
Are there other ways you utilize both PPC and SEO that’s missing from here?
Happy to hear your ideas in the comments below.
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