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SEO and PPC: Combining for Better Results

SEO, Strategy
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SEO and PPC are usually tactics that are conducted separately in companies. Often they are 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 generate better results than conducting them separately.

In this article I present some tips that companies can adopt, uniting SEO and PPC, within a project. But first, let’s put these disciplines into a little context.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

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

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) consists in adopting strategies to better position a site in search engines. 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 goal of a Search Engine Marketing strategy is to attract visitors to the site. The same is true for SEO and PPC. It’s as simple as that. So treating SEO and PPC in isolation is a mistake.

Differences between SEO and PPC

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) aims to improve the quality and quantity of visitors a site receives from search engines for free.

Also read:“What is SEO

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

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

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

Here you can understand my bias towards 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 goals and expected results.

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

Similarities between SEO and PPC

As I have commented before, both aim to bring visitors to the site. More important here is that both SEO and PPC are keyword driven.

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 countless ways:

  • sharing data;
  • improving the efficiency of the available budget;
  • maximizing the “footprint” of the SERP (search results page);
  • increasing brand recognition, 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 the 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 we can do is to export the organic performance data, obtained from Google Search Console, and the PPC data and combine them.

From GSC: impressions, clicks, CTR, and average positioning.

From Google Ads: clicks, average CPC, cost, and CTR of 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 also: Digital Marketing Metrics: which ones are important?

Optimizing SEO and PPC Campaigns

Leaning the value invested in PPC

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

You can start with those terms in which you invest more resources, but 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 features are the ones that are already organically in the first position. They are also the ones with high organic CTR. If we have to cut some investment in this campaign, we can start with these items.

On the other hand, if we are willing to reallocate money to expand coverage, we can direct resources to the words highlighted in red. Notice that they do not have a good CTR and/or positioning. See that the last 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 is therefore not worth investing in.

Read also: 6 Objections to SEO and how to deal with them

Optimizing content for “expensive” terms

Do you need to reduce your expenses even more? Take a look at terms that are not on the podium and 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 should work on producing more relevant content that can improve your positioning. It can become very expensive to sustain traffic for these terms on a sponsored basis.

Improving the copywriting of pages and ads

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

Terms with organic CTR higher than ad CTR and vice versa.
Terms with organic CTR higher than ad CTR and vice versa.

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

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

Also read: 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 result 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 get better insights for:

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

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

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