Make PPC Part of your SEO Strategy

Within this blog post, I’m going to go over a few uses for PPC which you may not have considered before and also to show you that they don’t have to be a duel between Google Adwords and your SEO Strategy…

They can very much work in harmony to help produce the results that you’re looking for – More Traffic!!
Make PPC Part of your SEO Strategy

If you have a website which is new to SEO, or maybe you have previously benefited from SEO in years gone by, you may have found that you are no longer achieving the results you’d become accustomed to prior to Google’s Algorithm updates as they slowly begin to rein in your visibility. You may be wondering what you need to do to try and influence Google in a positive way once again…

In short, Google isn’t your friend; they don’t care what effect it’s having on your business if you don’t rank highly!

You need to ensure that your website is doing all it can to improve your visibility in Google. Prior to 2012’s wake up call, affectionately known as Google Penguin, getting a website ranking was relatively easy if you knew what you were doing. If you wanted to increase your conversion rate, you didn’t look to improve the quality of the traffic – you simply did all you could to increase the quantity.

SEO has changed a lot in recent years, meaning that it has become a lot more time consuming and costly to gain the same results you may have been used to. These days it can typically take anywhere between 3 and 6 months to really begin to see the results of any ‘safe’ SEO Campaign which isn’t placing too much Risk into your Link Profile. For many businesses this is a long time to wait to see results, which is where a well-optimised Google Adwords campaign can help to fill the shortfall in those first few months until you begin to see your organic traffic improve.

Below I have come up with a number of scenarios to show how a Google Adwords Campaign can help to enhance your SEO Campaign in more ways than simply bringing in traffic in those first few months…

#1 – Utilise Adwords at the Beginning of Your SEO Campaign

If you’re a small or medium-sized business, you may be relying on an increased flow of traffic to your website to help sustain your SEO Marketing spend. For this reason, Adwords is an ideal short-term solution for increasing the traffic to your website to help bring in much needed revenue. Adwords Campaigns do not have to be expensive; a well-optimised account should provide you with a healthy return on your investment in the short term whilst your SEO Campaign gains traction.

Many people are wary of using Adwords as they do not want to become locked into having to pay Google for their traffic in the long term. Admittedly, like any “pay per play” model, you are at the mercy of any price hikes if you are going to continue to use the system in the long term. But, if this is considered a short-term method of traffic generation alongside SEO then you have nothing to worry about.

#2 – Use Adwords for Real-Time Keyword Research

Of course you could simply use the Google Keyword Planner tool, or one of the many Free and Premium keyword tools out there to find lucrative keywords for your SEO Campaign. However these only provide you with a top-level view of estimated search volumes, and do not take into account your website or its tailored landing pages’ ability to convert this traffic.

By using Adwords to do your keyword research on a live website, you not only get to see which keywords are driving traffic to your landing pages, but also which keywords are converting the most traffic. If you were to rely on SEO traffic for this same purpose, it could take many months to build traffic to your landing page. During this time, you could have wasted many hundreds or even thousands of pounds (or dollars) leaking traffic from your landing pages, unaware that there was ever an issue.

#3 Use Quality Score to Improve Your Landing Pages

Google’s Adwords Quality Score is used to grade a mixture of your website, your ads and your keyword targeting. By taking the time to learn how to increase your Quality Scores within your Adwords account, you should effectively begin to improve the way Google views your website.

There are no guarantees here however – Quality Score does take into account a broad range of factors. But, if you intend to run your Adwords account even after your organic visibility improves, by increasing your Quality Score you will lower you CPC rate and improve the way Google views your website in the long-term.

#4 – Use your Adwords Ads to Test Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Admittedly this may seem like a strange idea since Google limits the ad text quite considerably compared to their organic counterparts. But the great thing here is that within each Ad Group, you can add many different variations of Ad text to see which Ads increase the click through rate. This is data which is just waiting to be utilised within your landing pages, and should help increase your organic click through rates.

A key difference between organic and paid search is that you will never know just how many impressions your result will have received (how many times you come up in the first page results), unless your search result in Google gets clicked on. So this is important data that you can use to help improve both your page title’s text as well as the meta description.

#5 – Use Adwords to Help Improve Your Conversion Rates

As previously mentioned, the way many website owners considered increasing conversion rates in the past was to increase the amount of traffic to their websites. Often it was a cheaper and easier solution than running time-consuming split tests because links were bought so cheaply.

However, with SEO being much more difficult to get right these days, running A/B split tests on your landing pages using Adwords to improve your conversion rates is much more cost effective. To do this you would simply send your Adwords traffic to two versions of your landing pages to see which version is able to convert more of your traffic.

#6 – Use Adwords Keyword Data for Content Ideas

Lastly, one of the things many businesses struggle with is Content Ideas. They know that adding new content to the blog is beneficial because visitors get to see that you’re knowledgeable business in your field. And Google also likes to see new content being added to the website as a freshness signal.

However it can be tough finding new content ideas for your website, especially since we no longer have access to the long-tail data that Google Analytics once provided us with to understand how our visitors were finding us. Here are some suggestions for how to get around this dependoning on what monthly Ad spend you have to work with;

Smaller Budgets – By using Phrase match keywords only for your ads, this should help to stretch your budget as you will be buying more targeted traffic. What you will gain from this is additional keyword ideas which you may choose to use for further content ideas and blog posts. For instance, if you were selling “digital cameras”, this may well be one of your phrase match keywords. You may then find that people click on your ads using additional keywords such as “best compact digital cameras” or “best digital camera under £200”.

Larger Budgets – If you’re able to spend more on your Adwords Campaigns, you could choose to utilise Broad, Exact and Phrase match keyword matching for your ads. This will increase the range of keywords which are being used to find your web pages, giving you additional data and content ideas.

How it works is for example, taking the “digital cameras” as an example. We now know that we’ve getting a number of people searching for “best compact digital cameras” or “best digital camera under £200”. A quick check in the Google Keyword Planner Tool tells us that they’re getting high search volumes each month so we now know that these are going to be well searched terms to use for two new blog posts. There should be a wealth of data like this in Adwords once you know what you’re looking for…
Digital Camera - Keyword Planner

Making SEO and PPC Work Together

As you can see, Google has caused us many problems by removing the keyword data and of course introducing their Penguin Algorithm. But one thing that many people forget is that we’re all battling the same forces at Google, and the problems we face are not unique to just our websites and businesses.

SEO in isolation is still very possible without doing any of the things I have suggested here. However, if you were buying a new car, a television or just about any other high-ticket item which required a large outlay of money to be spent, you would do your research before going ahead and spending any of your money. So why should this be any different with SEO?

There will of course be some business owners who prefer to deal exclusively with organic search and others who are happy to rely on PPC for their traffic. There is no right or wrong way to conduct an Internet Marketing Strategy – both have their merits which, when used in conjunction, can help to boost your website’s visibility and brand awareness.

SEO – Pros
For many people, SEO is their main marketing focus and for good reason. Any traffic you get to your website is effectively free, and you’re not paying for any of the people who visit your website. There are obviously costs involved in building your website, write the content and build links. But of the first two, these would be costs that you would incur even if you used PPC exclusively.

SEO – Cons
The biggest issue we run into is educating clients about the time frames involved in doing SEO the right way. Sure, there are shortcuts, but these are not suggested for any website that you rely on as a reliable source of income. Google is very much more adept at uncovering grey hat and black hat link building techniques which people to use to rank websites quickly these days.

PPC – Pros
As I’ve already explained, the amount of data we are able to glean from Adwords is vastly more usable than organic alone. Whether Google restricting keyword data was about user privacy or a business decision to drive up use of Adwords is debatable.

If you want to increase traffic for your latest sale or maybe to increase signups of a lead generation promotion you may be running, nothing beats running a PPC campaign; be it Adwords, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Relying solely on SEO for time-sensitive promotions on a new landing page would be impossible, simply because there is no guaranteeing the traffic. This is why PPC is so invaluable.

PPC – Cons
The biggest issue faced by many businesses utilising PPC is the sheer cost of running Adwords campaigns. Of course if the campaign is setup correctly and managed properly, the spiralling costs can be managed and prevented. But the fact remains that PPC can be an expensive way of increasing traffic to your website.

Should You Bid on Your Organic Keyword Rankings?

One of the things many businesses will opt to do once they see they’re ranking well organically for their desired keywords is to turn off those particular keywords in Adwords to save money. However, if you continue to pay for these keyword clicks, you’re increasing the overall traffic that would have ordinarily have received. Put simply, if it wasn’t your PPC Ad that was clicked on, it would have been one of your competitors receiving the traffic to their website instead.

As mentioned previously, if you’re wise you can use the data gleaned from your Ad text to optimise your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions to be consistent between both your PPC and Organic listings. For instance if the page is a sales or offer page and your PPC Ad is using more direct sales copy such as “Up to 50% Off Ladies Jeans”, whilst your Organic Page Title simply says something such as “Ladies Jeans – Sale Now On” the first would be much more appealing to people meaning that you’d end up paying for a lot more of your traffic than you would necessarily have needed to.

In Conclusion

Evidently, whether you choose to utilise both of these marketing channels as part of your digital strategy is very much reliant on your expectations. SEO and PPC can work very well together, with each having its own strengths and weaknesses. But ultimately, they are both aiming to achieve the same goals.

It is a well-stated fact that SEO is a long term process and not something which should be rushed. Ultimately, you should be ensuring that you’re providing a good user experience for your visitors, which in turn is leading to increased conversions.

Even if your long-term plans do not include utilising PPC advertising, in the short-term it can provide you with some really invaluable data and help to ensure that your landing pages convert well.

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