In an ideal world, when running digital campaigns, SEO and PPC should both be used to improve the efficacy of each channel. However, when it comes to the bottom line of a tight budget marketers often feel they must pick one or the other. So, which should you choose? For when your budget is tight, Neil Patel has created a useful video on how to decide which one you need, which you can view here.
However, I’m an idealist and I believe that you should use both channels – so the work of one can supercharge the efforts of the other. Whether you are an in-house marketing manager or part of an agency managing digital teams, knowing how these two channels can work together to improve output will have great returns on your campaigns. At Space & Time, our SEO team always believe that working together not only gets you better results but ends up saving spend as well.
SEO-optimised landing pages
A good website is the bedrock of any successful digital campaign. PPC needs to land traffic on a site that works well and is SEO ready. Your website needs some love and attention from the PPC team to boost brand visibility and conversions.
If you are engaging in any activity which drives users to your site, your landing pages should be the very best they can be. When setting up your PPC campaign, whether you’ve created PPC landing pages or not, you should ask your SEO team to review the pages to ensure users arrive at the start of a great journey.
Before pressing ‘Go!’ on any PPC campaign, put the website under the nose of the SEO team so they can assess if it is:
- Mobile friendly
- Easily and correctly crawlable and indexable by search engines
- Written and designed to be visible in search
- Free of technical issues
The SEO team can also identify any visual, aesthetic and copy issues that might cause users to bounce straight off your site. Yes, your PPC quality score isn’t directly affected by bounce rate, but a high bounce rate will send signals that there is something wrong. Working with the SEO team on these points and using their copy knowledge can help give your quality score a boost and reduce your cost per click. Remember, Google Ads has a search crawler specifically to check the quality of those landing pages – many PPC teams wouldn’t know that a badly set up robots.txt file could block that quality check crawler and cause an ad to be rejected.
The SEO team’s keyword knowledge can be enhanced using PPC tools and keyword data. An important consideration in any SEO campaign is seasonal search volume, which can be estimated from Google Ads’ KeyWord Planner. This tool can also help fill the blind spot in SEO reporting – thanks to ‘not provided’ in Google Analytics, teams can’t see which term brought a user to the site organically. Search query reports from the PPC team can give the SEO team insight into which keywords should form the focus of the campaign. Whilst the exact keyword terms of the PPC campaigns can differ, using the data from this tool can help the SEO team to decide which terms they should focus on when writing their title tags and meta descriptions.
It’s interesting that these two disciplines are seen as opposing forces, when they both use and rely on effective understanding and application of keywords. Both SEO and PPC teams identify and use short and long tail keywords, but in different ways. PPC teams often identify long tail search terms and mark them as negative keywords. For example, when running a property campaign around properties for sale targeted at first time buyers, the PPC team may include ‘what is the average age of a first-time buyer’ as a negative keyword as it isn’t a transactional query. This would prevent PPC budget being wasted.
This term would have value for the SEO team as the basis for a piece of SEO content for the same site as a study to boost brand visibility. The study would put the brand in front of those who are not as far down the buying cycle as those people targeted by the PPC team. The SEO team can then feed their long tail research to the PPC team, again, to pre-emptively prevent wasted budget.
Beyond sharing keyword information, SEO and PPC teams need to keep tight lines of communication open so that any site changes can be factored into campaign planning and reporting analysis. Any drastic onsite changes – from UX to CRO to copy – need to be communicated from the SEO team to the PPC team so that any adjustments to landing page targeting can be made.
The biggest ‘FYI’ that needs to be passed from the SEO team to the PPC team is when a site migration is happening. Any site migration that is going to mean a site location change, a content change or a structural change is likely to cause 404 errors if the PPC team don’t change their landing pages to match the new site structure. The PPC team may recommend increasing the budget during and after the migration – to prevent any losses in visibility as the site settles following the changes.
The most obvious benefit of using SEO and PPC is to take up as much search inventory as possible. Effective authority over branded terms can ensure that the site dominates the SERP with PPC ads and organic pages. The setting up of a Google My Business (GMB) profile is a free, easy way to take up even more search inventory. GMB profiles began as a local SEO tool, as a free way for businesses to appear in local search. The tool now has PPC capabilities to allow your PPC team to spend budget on map ads. Paid map listings are now pushing organic listings down the results. If you want to ensure that your brand has as much visibility as possible across all searches your PPC and SEO teams will need to share and optimise the GMB platforms.
It’s all about occupying more space so that the Google user notices your site, increasing the chances of them clicking to your site and converting. Combining PPC & SEO will help do just that.
Eilish Hughes, SEO Account Manager