Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) are two digital marketing channels that direct traffic to your website. Though the two approaches to capturing clicks from the search engine result pages (SERPs) are unique — SEO is “earned” media and PPC is paid — they work most optimally when they are used together. Therefore, your SEO and PPC channel experts should be in direct communication with each other. By sharing and working closely together, both teams can achieve more efficient results.
Why Use SEO?
SEO strategies are intended to increase the amount of website traffic coming from organic search. While some companies describe search engine optimization as the “free” way to generate web traffic, it does require investment in the specialists, strategy, tools, and technology necessary to achieve SEO success. However, you are not directly paying for individual clicks, making SEO a foundational part of any comprehensive digital marketing growth strategy.
The use of keywords and keyword themes is a critical part of success for both SEO and for PPC. In search engine optimization, placing keywords strategically into your content, metadata, and more signals to Google and other search engines show what the page is about. Keywords also help determine how a website is ranked online and what results it is ranked against. Initially, SEO typically generates website traffic more gradually than PPC.
Why Use PPC?
Pay per click also sets out to increase website traffic, but PPC traffic comes from ads associated with specific keywords used in search queries. You pay per click on your links (hence the name) and traffic is generated as long as you are willing to pay for it. Essentially, you are buying website traffic rather than relying on traffic to come your way organically.
There are also options for your PPC ads beyond just the headline and description. Michael Shore, Senior Director of Strategic Consulting at Parallel Path, says, “Ad extensions like sitelinks, callouts, and location are just some of the options for creating ads that dominate the search results page.” By having multiple specific links shown, you’re providing more opportunities for clicks and engagement with your ad.
Use SEO and PPC Together
Because they are built on the same foundation (keywords and keyword themes), SEO and PPC strategies really are set up to work well together. High-quality and well-optimized content on your site resulting from SEO efforts, for example, can also increase the quality score of your PPC ads. “Because SEO typically takes more time to see automatic results, activating paid ads for visibility will give your SEO time to catch up to your PPC. Ideally, you’ll reach a point where your SEO actually drives significant improvements in website traffic and leads,” Shore advises.
A well-planned and executed SEO strategy will earn your content a higher rank in the SERPs, which should send more organic traffic your way. If you think of your overall digital marketing strategy as an investment portfolio, PPC would be your short-term investment with relatively quick gains, while SEO could be considered your long-term investment. It’s important to note that, even though SEO may be a more long-term strategy, it still requires ongoing maintenance and attention along the way.
“Studies have shown that running paid search ads alongside organic listings can drive incremental traffic above and beyond what would be driven by utilizing just one of these channels,” says Shore. Additionally, paid search traffic tends to have higher intent and typically has a greater conversion rate than organic traffic. The more you bring traffic to your website, the fewer clicks are going to your competitors, so it’s worth the time and effort to do it right.
To begin the conversations between your PPC and SEO specialists, consider the insights and data that will help both channels. PPC data, such as search term reports, can be used to build additional content (like SEO landing pages, for example) so the brand can capture both organic and paid traffic. Pages on a website that drive organic traffic can be built into PPC groups to strengthen that strategy. Additionally, for every paid search landing page, make sure there is a corresponding SEO landing page. They might be the same, but if not, confirm that you have a page for each in place.
Keep SEO And PPC In One Agency
Having SEO and PPC strategies under the care of a central team will be hugely beneficial for your marketing campaign. PPC data can inform SEO focus, and vice versa. It’s easier to share keywords for consistency if the same team is handling the data for both strategies, rather than relying on separate teams from separate companies. Additionally, combining that data will yield better insight for clients.
You’ll gain marketing efficiencies because the SEO and PPC teams do jobs that are interconnected by default. “It’s more effective since it’s easier to share data and insights within one team, enabling faster decision-making and a more holistic view of cross-channel performance,” Shore says.
Use Holistic Reporting
Once you’re ready to start using SEO and PPC together, it’s important to stay organized. Keep organic and paid performance data in the same report. “Seeing the data holistically is a huge benefit for your team and your client,” says Shore. Update the reports regularly and make sure the entire team is up to speed on your strategies. Strategists from each specialty should understand how their work plays into the company’s digital success story and may learn from each other along the way.