The Secret to Search Engine Success? Use SEO and PPC Together

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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For most marketers and eCommerce organizations, developing PPC campaigns is a separate effort from building a search engine optimization strategy. These tactics are often viewed as alternatives in which a brand can only invest in one at a time.

However, this division does not enable a brand to reach its fullest potential in the search engine ranking pages (SERPs) as these two disciplines both fall under the umbrella of search marketing.

SEO on the one hand, serves to increase SERP rankings and increase a site’s organic traffic by employing a set of techniques known to enhance a site’s performance and authority.

On the other hand, pay-per-click advertising – or paid search – aims to increase a site’s traffic through the deployment of carefully crafted and placed adverts on search engines, websites and social networks.

While there are key differences between the two strategies, each is powerful in its own right, and each tactic serves similar goals. Moreover, when properly employed, the two efforts can create a symbiotic relationship, thereby enhancing the performance of one another.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of how this works, let’s examine the value contained within each approach.

The Value of Paid Search Campaigns in Google Ads

According to Search Engine Journal’s 2017 State of Digital Marketing report:

“42% of respondents allocate most of their digital marketing budget to PPC and display ads.”

The significant portion of paid search investment by marketers clearly shows that PPC advertising has a variety of benefits for eCommerce brands.

Firstly, PPC produces results quickly. Unlike SEO strategies, paid search efforts often bring immediate results in the form of traffic, conversions and other business goals. This is the exact reason why Google Shopping ads now capture 76 percent of all retail search ad spend while also garnering more than 85 percent of all clicks.   

Google Shopping Ads

Secondly, paid search ads tend to help merchants drive qualified consumers to their sites. As PPC ads are targeted toward specific audiences and seek to engender specific actions, those who click-through an ad tend to be more relevant leads than those who might merely be searching an associated keyword. Therefore, PPC adverts specifically target those who are most likely to be interested in a brand and its offerings.

Moreover, paid search efforts help eCommerce companies to boost their recognition and brand awareness over time as many PPC ads are displayed at the top of the Google SERPs. While not all prospects will click on a business’s ad when it surfaces, the more often consumers search related keywords and are exposed to a brand’s ad, the more a company’s name begins to stick in their minds. This largely unconscious effect can help eCommerce merchants potentially garner sales down the line.

However, PPC’s main shortcoming is that it cannot be sustained over long periods of time for most brands, given the associated costs. As a result, any gains made from paid search campaigns are quickly lost once the initiative ends.

The drawback in paid search efforts is exactly where SEO strategies pick up the baton.

The Value of SEO and Organic Search

Search engine optimization strategies improve a site’s visibility in the SERPs. The ability to get in front of searchers is critical as the first three search engine results drive 50 percent of clicks or more, depending on the industry. Moreover, results that land on page two and three of the SERPs tend not to get clicked at all.

Searching

Ensuring that search engine users can find a site is critical to building a broader audience. While SEO won’t provide the immediate results that PPC can, it will help to increase a site’s performance in the SERPs steadily.

This dynamic is incredibly relevant to eCommerce merchants as a whopping 81 percent of consumers conduct a search before buying a product online. When retailers appear on a search engine’s first page, it not only increases traffic but credibility as well. When a site earns the trust of Google, consumers will, too, making them more likely to convert.

For this reason, organic search is an essential component of eCommerce performance as earning a sale is often dependent on a customer’s confidence in a site. When a website ranks highly in the SERPs, this shows consumers – more than any other optimization or visibility strategy – that a site is trustworthy.

Search online statistic

Another one of the most beneficial aspects of SEO is its minimal costs relative to those associated with PPC campaigns. When juxtaposing the two strategies, earning organic rankings requires much less of a financial investment than pay-per-click advertising initiatives. However, SEO does demand a more substantial investment of time and energy, so it is a bit of a tradeoff.

Whereas a PPC campaign’s results are short-lived and end once the financial investment stops, SEO produces returns for a brand long after the optimization tactics have been implemented. That is not to say that organic search efforts don’t require maintenance. They surely do as SEO is continually changing. Therefore, merchants must continuously stay up-to-date on SEO best practices and transformations to maintain and increase rankings.

Nonetheless, the importance of SEO is evident. However, eCommerce retailers can have a tremendous impact on the SERPs if they learn to integrate their PPC efforts with their SEO strategies as these two disciplines are inextricably linked and have a symbiotic relationship with one another.

An Integrated Approach: Using SEO and PPC Together

One of the most significant benefits of integrating SEO and PPC is the increased exposure in the SERPs. The thing that is important to keep in mind about paid search efforts is that even if your store is organically ranking number one on Google, your competitors could still be sitting in the top spot of the SERPs with a paid ad.

By leveraging PPC in addition to SEO, brands can appear in the organic results and paid positions, thereby displaying a well-established online presence (which earns consumer trust) in addition to increasing the chances of a click-through.

PPC also impacts SEO in more obvious ways such as drawing in increased traffic which can lead to a higher time on site, number of conversions and other factors that Google considers when ranking pages.

Moreover, when a brand employs an integrated SEO/PPC strategy, they obtain twice as much keyword information to analyze, which can help enhance the performance of both practices.

When initiating a PPC campaign, brands are likely to test out various broad match keywords to ensure that ads surface for a wide range of queries. Through examining the terms that drive clicks on paid adverts, eCommerce retailers can develop a more refined understanding of what their relevant target audience is looking for and the intent behind the searches. Armed with this knowledge, digital retailers can optimize their SEO efforts and PPC targeting, thereby driving increased traffic and sales.

Recently, Visiture combined PPC and SEO tactics to help bra maker Glamorise increase revenue 167 percent, year-over-year, and organic site visits by 81 percent. One of the ways this was achieved was by harvesting the data from PPC efforts to create targeted content that would help the brand rank organically while attracting a relevant audience.

For eCommerce sites, content marketing can be an SEO boon as many merchants fail to create useful, educational or compelling content for their site – if they are generating any at all.

However, the link between SEO and PPC efforts is most clearly seen in how optimization efforts – which help to provide more relevant user experiences – effectively lower the cost-per-click (CPC) for various keywords targeted by PPC efforts. As Google is always seeking to provide searchers with the most relevant content possible, the higher a campaign’s quality score, the lower it’s CPC. As quality scores are partially determined by keyword and landing page relevance, innovative SEO efforts are more likely to yield a higher quality score.

This dynamic clearly shows that by employing an effective SEO strategy informed by PPC data, merchants can lower the cost of their paid search efforts and then use the information in their SEO blueprint to create a positive feedback loop.

SEO and PPC strategy

The beneficial and valuable relationship between search engine optimization and paid search is something that eCommerce businesses should not underestimate. Numerous case studies have shown the heightened impact the two strategies have when implemented together.

It’s time to stop thinking about SEO and PPC as separate entities. These two disciplines are intertwined in fundamental ways that, when recognized and optimized, can lead to far more profitable results than if each was treated as independent schemes.

Combined SEO and PPC practices will always produce better results than on their own. Learn to mix the two tactics smartly, and your store will generate far more generous returns from the SERPs.

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