There is an invisible line drawn between paid and organic search. Paid search marketers spend all day using tracking tools to measure conversion metrics via search engine APIs. SEO pros are mostly concerned with site structure, content creation and link development. In fact, even the biggest SEM publications and conferences break the two into separate sections and tracks. Many strategies differ between PPC and SEO; however, just as many are similar and can benefit from a combined effort. As the lines begin to shift and blur with all online marketing mediums, you need to rethink how you approach PPC and SEO—you must create a united front between the two strategies.
When you really begin to dissect the parts, PPC and SEO are not that different. While the means to the end are different, the goals are still the same—increased conversions. And the rock on which both are founded is keywords. With the same goals and foundation, there is no reason why these two tactics cannot be combined to form a comprehensive search marketing strategy.
But the similarities do not stop at goals and keywords. SEO meta descriptions are essentially like PPC ad copy. Meta descriptions form the snippet on the search engine results page (SERP) and should not only help to inform the searcher about your site, but should use similar call-to-action language that PPC ad copy does. And much like you choose or create proper landing pages for PPC, you must also select the most relevant pages for each SEO keyword and create new pages for other converting terms and phrases.
In a perfect world, PPC and SEO would be developed while a website is still in infancy. While this ideal situation rarely occurs, the following steps lay out the process as it should occur every time.
Step One — Strategy and Development
Before building even one page of the site, you must have a keyword strategy. This helps you develop content for optimal quality scores on the paid side and high converting traffic on the organic side. Select terms and phrases that are relevant to your business and receive a high volume of searches. Also, research your competition and determine which keywords they rank on for PPC and SEO.
Once you have selected your keywords you can begin to develop the website using basic SEO site structure principles—titles, meta descriptions, internal linking, image names and site map . Be sure to write meta descriptions using similar messaging and tone as your PPC creative. Keep in mind, though: snippets cannot be all sales speak. You must wax creative to combine descriptive language that informs the searcher and compelling language that grabs their attention and inspires them to click on your listing above all others.
Step Two — Web Analytics Implementation
Regardless of the analytics platform you select, you must ensure that your site is tagged correctly to parcel out traffic from what we call the “search triple threat”—paid, organic and local map listings. This way you can understand where exactly users are coming form and correctly attribute your inevitable marketing success.
Step Three — Drive Traffic
For PPC: call on your knowledge of paid search 101 fundamentals—keywords (including long-tail and negative-match keywords), ad groups and ad copy. Use all the advanced strategies you have learned over the years to optimize the campaign—day and time parting, demo-targeting, geo-targeting and post-click optimization. Generate traffic to the appropriate landing pages for your various keywords.
For SEO: Use basic link building tactics—directory submissions, relevant sites and blogs, press releases, etc. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity; a handful of links on top-notch sites is worth more than thousands of links on irrelevant, insignificant sites. Then combine your efforts with PPC—consider the more expensive keywords on the paid side; it may be more cost effective for you to link build with these terms rather than bid on them. On the flip side, you may find that you are simply unable to rank well on certain terms organically. Do not get frustrated; there are most likely hundreds, if not thousands, of other sites out there that are vying for ranking on those terms. In this situation, you may want to bid on these terms to ensure you show up in at least one SERP listing.
To geo-target in SEO, your only option is to optimize for geo-modified terms. Geo-modified terms can also be used for PPC; however, you should use IP targeting to fully leverage this targeting by geographic location.
Step Four — Evaluate Data
After you campaign has run for a time, review click stream metrics and evaluate all PPC elements. Note those keywords that are receiving the most traffic and bringing in the best ROI. Tweak your PPC campaign to match these results.
Then look at exact phrases that convert well for PPC—build separate landing pages for these terms. Don’t forget to incorporate keywords in site structure of these pages and include internal linking to other pages on your site. This helps your quality score for PPC and helps increase keyword saturation for SEO.
Like peanut butter and jelly or wine and cheese, PPC and SEO are perfect complements. It is possible to do one without the other or have separate departments handling each, but it is not in your best interest. Imagine that the SERPs are online real estate; there is a limited number of high-quality properties online (i.e., listing on page one), you want to own as much of that space as possible. By combining efforts and allowing PPC and SEO to complement each other, you can generate more quality traffic for desired phrases in both the paid and organic listings.
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