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SEO and PPC: combining for better results

Combining SEO and PPC

SEO and PPC are generally tactics conducted separately in companies. They are often even seen as alternatives to the other, being focused on one at a time. It doesn't have to be that way. Combining SEO and PPC can yield better results than conducting them separately.

In this article I present some tips that companies can adopt, combining SEO and PPC, within a project. But first, let's contextualize these disciplines a little.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

It may seem simple but this is a concept often overlooked by companies and SEO and PPC professionals.

WITHOUT (Search Engine Marketing or search engine marketing) is to adopt strategies to better position a website in searches. This can occur both organically (SEO) and paid (PPC). Therefore, SEO and PPC are part of an SEM strategy, which is one of the disciplines of digital marketing.

The purpose of a search engine marketing strategy is to attract visitors to the website. The same is true for SEO and PPC. That simple. So, treating SEO and PPC in isolation is a misnomer.

Differences between SEO and PPC

Search engine optimization (SEO) aims to improve the quality and quantity of visitors that a website receives from search engines for free.

Read too: "What is SEO

Sponsored Links (PPC) is a model where advertisers pay to fill some spaces in search results.

Although both are under SEM, they have some obvious differences and others not so much:

  • While SEO is free of charge in search, PPC requires investment to be displayed.
  • Ads are usually shown before free results, with a slight visual distinction.
  • The results obtained with PPC, once the campaign is over, tend to return to the level before the campaign. In the case of SEO, the results take longer to appear but tend to be long-term and sustainable.

Here it is possible to understand my inclination for SEO over PPC. SEO seeks long-term sustainable results.

Will SEO always be the best tactic? Not always. It is important to understand the company's objectives and expected results.

Is SEO cheaper? Not always. If we look at a longer time spectrum, it usually does. However, some SEO campaigns can take months or even years to deliver results. Many companies fail to structure themselves for this and end up seeing in PPC the possibility of faster gains.

Similarities between SEO and PPC

As I mentioned before, both aim to bring visitors to the site. More important here is that both SEO and PPC are guided by keywords.

In SEO, the words for which we will build our content. In PPC, the words for which we will activate our ads.

How PPC and SEO can help each other

SEO and PPC can help each other in a number of ways:

  • sharing data;
  • improving the efficiency of the available budget;
  • maximizing SERP's “coverage area” (search result page);
  • increasing brand awareness, etc.

Combining SEO and PPC

We have seen that both PPC and SEO are keyword-driven campaigns. We can use the data from these campaigns by taking keywords as connectors, exploring more data from there.

There are many tools that combine data, but I prefer to give some examples using a “tool for mortals” like Google Data Studio (free by the way).

A simple exercise that we can do is to export the organic performance data, obtained by Google Search Console, and the PPC data and combine them.

From the GSC: impressions, clicks, CTR and average placement.

Google Ads: clicks, average CPC, cost, and CTR for ads.

Blended data using data from Google Search Console and Google Ads
Combined data from Google Search Console and Google Ads

Now that we have combined this data, we can find opportunities for improvement for both campaigns.

Read too: "Digital Marketing Metrics: Which Are Important?

Optimizing SEO and PPC campaigns

Wiping the amount invested in PPC

This is an approach to solve a budget problem in the short term. Disregard conversions for a moment. Imagine that you have to cut your investment in some of your PPC campaigns, which terms would you start with? If you have data from organic searches it's easier.

You can start with those terms in which you invest more resources, but which are already well positioned organically:

In blue: terms with high cost but good positioning and organic CTR. In red: terms with less investment and poor CTR and / or positioning.
Blue: terms with high cost but good positioning and organic CTR. Red: terms with less investment and poor CTR and / or positioning.

Notice in the image (blue highlight) that the terms that receive the most resources are those that are already organically in the first position. They are also the ones with high organic CTR. If we have to cut any investment in this campaign, we can start with these items.

On the other hand, if we are willing to reallocate amounts to expand coverage, we can direct resources to the words highlighted in red. Realize that they do not have a good CTR and / or positioning. Note that the latter term is the term that receives the most organic impressions but the least amount invested in campaigns.

Extracting and combining data is very easy and can be automated. The analyst's view is very important. He must know how to interpret what is or is not relevant to the business. For example, it may be that the last term in the image has the worst conversion rate and therefore is not worth investing in.

Read too: "6 objections to SEO and how to deal with them

Optimizing content for “expensive” terms

Need to further reduce your spending? Take a look at terms that are not on the podium and that have an above average CPC.

Words with regular positioning, low CTR and above average CPC.
Words with regular positioning, low CTR and above average CPC.

It is probably worthwhile to suspend sponsored links for these terms. We must work on producing more relevant content that can improve your positioning. It can become very expensive to sustain traffic to these terms on a sponsored basis.

Improving page and ad copywriting

You can improve the meta tags (title and description) of your pages or the text of your ads.

Terms with an organic CTR greater than the ads' CTR and vice versa.
Terms with an organic CTR greater than the ads' CTR and vice versa.

Identify words with the highest CTR in your ads and rewrite your meta title and description based on the text in these ads.

Identify words with higher CTR in organic search and optimize your ads.

Read too: "The definitive guide to SEO copywriting

SEO + PPC = more results

Within your organization, avoid treating SEO and PPC separately. These two SEM tactics tend to generate much more results if they are worked together.

Use the data collected from organic searches in your sponsored links campaigns and vice versa.

Work PPC and SEO together and you will have better insights to:

  • resize and reallocate the campaign budget;
  • optimize content for terms considered to be high investment;
  • improve copywriting of pages and ads.

These are some benefits of working on search optimization and jointly sponsored link campaigns. And in your company, are SEO and PPC campaigns worked together or separately?

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