Search marketing: What can you learn from SEO and how can it be applied to PPC?

By Katie McQuater | Magazine Editor



SEO article

December 19, 2012 | 9 min read

As part of a series looking at search marketing trends, The Drum catches up with agencies operating in the space to establish their views on what's happening across SEO and PPC.

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What can you learn from SEO and how can it be applied to PPC? (and vice versa)?Al Mackin, CEO, theEwordAnalysing the natural search terms that drive traffic to your site gives you an insight in to the mind-set of the searcher, and the useful of this goes far beyond your digital campaigns. If you haven’t got a process in place where your natural search keywords are being pushed in to your paid campaigns on a regular basis then you’re missing out. Use Google Analytics to gain access to the natural search terms, or better yet drop some custom JavaScript on to your site and have it write the keywords to a database that is automatically exported.Dan Robins, head of search, CaratThe key thing PPC people can learn from SEO is which gaps need plugging – in the most competitive of auctions, even the strongest SEO activity will not be able to drive enough traffic to hit advertiser goals. Learning from this, PPC teams know the areas they need to aim at to drive the most efficient, rounded traffic. By its very nature, PPC can be turned around really quickly and it’s this quick testing SEOer should focus their learning on – actual keyword volumes (always better than the Google keyword tool), message testing and landing page split-testing. Alex Craven, CEO, BloomBy sharing SEO and PPC insight the effectiveness of each channel is maximised. For example, seeing a new keyphrase in organic search can indicate a change in consumer search behaviour that can inform a new PPC keyphrase. This insight also needs to be mirrored with onsite optimisation. Conversely, you can test the efficiency of keyphrases on PPC before investing in ongoing SEO activity.Paul Huggett, strategic planning director, StickyeyesTime spent identifying the breath of long tail keywords that you can leverage from the organic search and site search usage reports in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, especially if you do a little manual work to highlight click through and conversion rates, which will provide you with a golden list to target which is a license to print money for your PPC campaign.PPC is a perfect test bed for SEO efficiencies. PPC can tell you what descriptions work best for keywords which directly translate to changes in the SERP snippet description used by search engines to maximise click through rates. Additionally PPC search query reports can be a gold mine for identifying content themes that you can leverage as part of your overall SEO content strategy.Matt Evans, SEO executive, iProspectSEO and PPC are a lot closer to each other than a lot of people think, and we're always keen in the SEO team to learn as much as we can from the PPC team and vice versa. Someone searching doesn’t see SEO work and PPC work – they see the overall results page with paid and organic results, so the two have to be complementary.Providing you're running a strong SEO campaign, the ongoing SEO activity will open up new channels of long-tail keywords for PPC. In PPC you can sometimes be locked into your keywords and keyword groups where as with SEO, once you're ranking for one keyword that you're tracking, it's quite likely that you're receiving traffic from "side effect terms" as well, terms that we may not normally see with just paid search tools and data. On the reverse side of things, PPC can offer the SEO guys a lot. Data is one huge advantage that PPC has over SEO. There are too many SEO campaigns going on in this country and internationally that are either mis-reporting or just don't have enough data. PPC’s DR marketing heritage means usability and testing for conversions are areas which Paid Search do very well, and where the SEO industry as a whole can learn from.. I'd love to see more people getting involved with conversion-based title tags, A-B testing on landing pages and snippet integration for maximum CTR, for example. Matt Isaacs, CEO and founding partner, EssenceSEO has long been about the user experience in a much more comprehensive way and paid search (PPC) is moving in that direction as well. In the next year we’ll start to see more complex quality score algorithms and heavier weighting on landing page loading times and other site specific metrics.Ben Hatton, managing director, RippleffectMake it useful and get straight to the point. PPC has long since focused on wringing everything out of a click you pay for with landing page testing and conversion tracking. SEO needs to take this to heart. Too often, SEO landing pages are focused on the googlebot - delivering crawlable content - when the user just wants to get in touch or to buy something.PPC makes landing pages about the connection between users and business: SEO needs to remember this. PPC campaigns quickly moved away from vanity results because of the direct cost, but the incurred cost SEO is overlooked when achieving vanity results. Keep it on track with measurable objectives.Stuart Devlin, digital director, E-StrategyA PPC campaign will often provide more accurate keyword data in particular the search volumes and conversion rates for each keyword. Over a period of time (once sufficient data has been obtained), this can be used to form the basis of an SEO campaign.There are a number of areas that can be learned from SEO and applied to a PPC campaign including the optimisation of landing pages and the creation of quality compelling content can be used to improve the performance of a PPC campaign.Adrian Durow, head of SEO and CRO, Thinking JuiceMaximising your SERP real estate. Good SEOs should try and make their snippets look as big and interesting as possible with rel=author, good Google+ activity, other markup such as PPC ads can take the same approach with Offer Ad Extensions, Google Map information and seller ratings.PPC strategies still feel like they have more of focus on landing page optimisation and CRO, maybe due to landing page quality affecting Quality Score and Ad Rank. SEOs can learn from this mentality as sometimes they can be too fixated on number 1s rather than user journeys and conversion rates. Richard Lyne, senior search manager, WickedwebSearchers engage and behave in different ways depending how they arrive to your site, with SEO generally holding higher esteem. Organic searchers view more pages, spend longer digesting content and are more likely to refine their search using an onsite search feature. You can therefore use behavioural patterns and engagement information from organic traffic to surface key information quicker in PPC landing pages, improve your paid search keywords and even increase your PPC budgets for brand keywords or targeted phrases. However, PPC is more typically used to support SEO, with messaging strategies, in-page content and keyword performance data tested to determine SEO priorities.Sri Sharma, managing director & founder, Net Media PlanetThe goal of SEO/PPC integration is to achieve two things. Firstly to create the right balance between free SEO traffic and paid PPC traffic, and secondly to drive improvement by taking learnings from one channel and apply them to the other.To find the right balance between SEO and PPC, a key approach we have developed is called incrementality testing. We use this approach to leverage SEO and use PPC strategically to add value.In terms of taking learnings from one channel to the other, as PPC provides immediate results, ad copy messaging in PPC that is high performing is shared with SEO teams to improve SEO content. Likewise, where SEO keyword terms drive conversions or quality research traffic, this is shared with PPC teams to improve the PPC performance.Paul Martin, SEO manager, EpiphanyPPC to SEO is the better way as PPC data can be gathered instantly whereas SEO is a longer term game. PPC can be reactive and make changes on the fly; these tests can help inform SEO strategies in all sorts of areas:
  • Try out ad copy variations with the best used as metadata
  • Acquire accurate search volume data. As the Keyword tool is hit and miss, one way to gain a better understanding of search volumes is to run a short PPC campaign to test out new keywords and see what could make feasible targets for SEO
  • If the landing pages are the same for both SEO and PPC then conversion rates and revenue of new product lines can quickly be established to inform whether they would make viable long term organic targets
Lee Stuart, founding partner & director of client services, CaliberThe greatest benefit is immediacy and measurability. PPC can help enhance strategy for a medium to long term medium marketing strategy like SEO, by generating actionable performance data to reinforce decision making. Some key applications include choosing the best converting keyword combinations and overlaying SEO metrics with real conversion data (this works both ways to a degree), testing the validity of landing page strategy changes to understand what impact this may have revenue before rolling out site wide, for search microformat and rich data optimisation - allowing you to test new variations with ads and measure impact on CTR before applying to SEO. And finally, using PPC data to test the Value Proposition and estimate the ‘replacement value’ of media through SEO that would have otherwise have to be bought; this is particularly useful during annual budgeting. Finally using SEO long tail referral data can help generate and further segment PPC campaigns.

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theEword is a specialist search agency in Manchester, with expertise in paid and natural search engine marketing.

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Welcome to Carat, the world's leading independent media planning & buying specialist and the market-leader in digital and non-traditional media solutions.

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Some online marketing agencies are all style and no substance. Others are so geeky they forget your customers are only human.

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Our senior experts and proprietary technology not only help clients visualise the work we’re doing ahead of time, but also highlight where additional performance efficiency can be gained to increase revenue growth and brand exposure. Our clients typically achieve significant growth from when we take over their campaign management.

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Building brand recognition is what we do. By combining organic search strategies, paid campaigns, engaging social and rich content we get our clients in front of the right audience in the moments that matter.

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Caliber delivers Smart Organic Marketing for great brands. That's the full SEO spectrum from technical infrastructure to PR-amplified content.

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