This is it. This is your time. You’ve decided to get serious about the performance of your website and online presence. You’ve done the research and finally concluded that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something that you want to pursue. You’ve decided that the number one spot on Google is as good as yours. And while the idea that SEO is your best bet isn’t technically wrong, it’s only part of the answer to your web woes.
In today’s competitive online environment, every good SEO initiative deserves an equally awesome Pay Per Click (Google AdWords, Bing Ads, etc…) campaign. It just makes sense.
1) Many of the best practices for SEO are the same best practices for a Pay Per Click campaign
The first step in any good SEO initiative should be to ensure that you have strong, optimized landing pages (the pages on your site where visitors “land” first when ending up on your site as a result of a search). Make sure your pages include relevant and properly formatted information (for readers first, but also for search engine “bots”), a focus on your target keywords and strong calls to action. The attention to detail required to properly optimize on-page content within your website will pay off when initiating a Pay Per Click campaign.
When Google, Bing or other search engines determine which ads to display to searchers, it takes a wide range of ranking factors into account. While it would take pages upon pages to outline each and every one of these factors, arguably one of the most important ranking factors for PPC (besides budget, of course) is the “quality score.”
An ad’s quality score is the strength of the correlation that can be drawn between the actual text of your ad, the keywords that you list to help search engines trigger those ads and the content of the page you are linking to within your ad. Your quality score directly influences how often search engines will show your ad to users searching for your services, as well as how much you will pay for each user who clicks one of your ads. If your landing pages are already optimized for SEO best practices, it is easy to understand how they would be an asset for your PPC campaigns. Combine your keyword research that has already been performed for your search engine optimization efforts with strong ad copy, and you’re already a step ahead in the game.
2) SEO campaigns take time to get rolling. The fruits of PPC efforts are much more immediately apparent.
The quest for the top organic spot is one of constant and perpetual analysis, testing, revising and writing. It can be a daunting task that can seem to take an incredible amount of time to see results. When optimizing for search engine performance, you are truly at the whim of the algorithm and the hundreds of formulaic factors that search engines use to determine rankings. It can take time to see the fruits of your optimizing labors.
While nothing is instantaneous in the world of search engine optimization and search engine marketing (SEM), PPC campaigns can yield results much more quickly than many optimization efforts. Additionally, because of the power of geographic targeting and analytics within the ad management systems, it’s easy to monitor performance and make adjustments to your campaigns on the fly. Changes made to ads and keywords set within your PPC campaigns are implemented immediately, while changes in on-page content as part of optimization efforts can take time to be noticed by search engines.
Note: Newly created AdWords campaigns may also take some time to reach their full potential. Google, Bing and other search engines have many quality assurance measures when it comes to the analysis of new PPC campaigns. Once campaigns have been deemed credible, new ad sets see much more immediate results.
3) The top of the organic mountain is not the ultimate peak, at least for Google.
The top organic spot is the ultimate goal of all SEO practitioners and website managers. But in some competitive markets, organic position #1 may be overall position #5. In the past, Google AdWords would display PPC ads above organic results, below organic results and on the right side of organic results (in order of ad quality and relevance to search). In 2016, Google made the move to eliminate text ads that used to appear on the right side of search results. This means more ads appearing above organic results in competitive markets with high search volume. As many as four text ads may now appear above organic results, making companies with high organic rankings take the biggest hit.
With the new system of displaying paid and organic listings on search engine results pages (SERPS), it is more important now than ever for those implementing SEO campaigns to also incorporate paid search into their online marketing mix.
4) Paid search can inform your organic search campaigns.
For those who manage PPC and SEO campaigns, one of the most exciting bits of reporting within the AdWords platform is the search terms report. This is a list of each and every search phrase that triggered ads and/or clicks during your campaign period. This is an unprecedented look into the search habits of users. These are search terms straight from the proverbial mouths of your visitors. For PPC campaigns, this helps us add these keywords to our list of terms that will trigger our ads. But how does this help SEO practitioners?
Many times, keyword research can be the most labor-intensive portion of the optimization process. SEO practitioners must marry industry terms and phrases with terms that searchers are actually typing into the search bar. A strong AdWords campaign can help give real world insight into what terms visitors are actually using. SEO agencies as well as in-house marketing practitioners can often find themselves trapped in “industry speak,” the terms and phrases used internally within a specific industry. Many times, industry terms and actual search terms are not always one in the same. The rich reporting of AdWords gives us a better understanding of the lexicon of those searching for our products and services. This informs our strategic content efforts, helps guide on-page optimization and allows us to better craft our advertisements. All of these result in a better overall experience for search engine users.
5) Site traffic is a considerable ranking factor for SEO.
This is one of the most straightforward reasons why PPC and SEO work hand in hand. PPC campaigns are designed to drive traffic. Web sites that receive more traffic than others are considered to be more authoritative in the eyes of search engines. The assumption is that legitimate site traffic is a strong indicator of quality site content. For this reason, any initiatives that drive traffic to your site have a positive effect on SEO, as long as that traffic is not generated by shady or deceptive means, often referred to as “Black Hat SEO.” Paid Search campaigns, email marketing and social media marketing can all have an effect on site traffic when used strategically, resulting in a bump in SEO authority.
Did you make it all the way through this article? Are you feeling like an SEO and PPC expert? Even if you aren’t, it doesn’t take an expert to recognize the value of a quality, concurrent SEO and PPC campaign, no matter your budget or industry.
With the ability to control the bids for your ad campaigns, limit the geographic area where ads will display and target specific demographics with strategic keyword selection, PPC campaigns are a vital part of online marketing that can be incorporated into any online effort.