Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising are the two foundations of digital marketing.
For SEO, you’re creating content and structuring your site where people can find you organically on different search engines. In PPC, you’re paying for each click that comes to your site.
Both are important, and they’re most effective when they’re used in conjunction as part of your overall digital marketing strategy.
When I’m teaching clients about digital marketing, I like to tell them to use PPC advertising (bidding on clicks on Google and Bing) when they want traffic tomorrow, and SEO (ranking for keywords on Google) when they want free, consistent organic traffic six to 12 months from now.
Sometimes, I use the analogy of renting versus buying a house. PPC gives you immediate benefit, like renting. SEO has long-term payoff, like buying.
When developing your digital marketing strategy, use your analytic data to study your customer’s journey to your website and build a holistic approach that includes a mix of both paid and organic tactics.
Usually, the first step in the consumer buying process is going online to search for a desired product or service. On the first search engine results page, there could be as many as 20 different links to click. To promote your business’s brand awareness, you want as many of those options as possible to link to your site.
Below is a generic search for the term “pizza near me.” The search engine results page includes PPC ads, a local organic map pack and ten organic listings.
In total, there are 15 different urls a user can click on. Pizza Hut shows up twice organically – once in the map pack and once as the fifth link in the list. But through PPC, they’re doubling the number of links to their site. With two PPC ads (one in the map pack and one in the organic search results list), they own four out of the 15 possible links a user can click. There’s no doubt this is increasing the amount of traffic to their site.
Supplement Your Keyword Strategy
You might own a chiropractic practice that also does deep tissue massage. Your site might rank well for terms like “chiropractor” and “good chiropractor near me,” but not at all for terms like “masseuse near me.”
It’s extremely tough to rank organically for every keyword you’re interested in right at the start. As businesses start investing in SEO, they have to take a few steps at a time, and this could mean focusing on one service or product offering for a few months while the others are dormant.
This is where a strategic PPC campaign will come in handy, because you can supplement your organic traffic to one service page (like chiropractic services, in the above example) and pay for traffic to the other (like massage services). This will support both sides of the business and improve overall site traffic as you work on ranking for that other set of keywords.
Gain Landing Page Content Insight
Using a holistic digital marketing strategy that combines both SEO and PPC can give you insight into what content would work best on landing pages.
When creating a search engine optimized landing page, you’re trying to answer any question imaginable that someone would ask when searching for that page. For that reason, you want to include as much information on that page as possible. That means images, videos, reviews and product or service descriptions.
Looking at Google Analytics, you have limited information on which keywords users are searching to actually find your page. This makes it difficult to continue to optimize the page for those keywords and create better content for the user.
But with pay-per-click advertising, you know which keyword a user clicked on and what actions they took on your page. This will help you understand how much time a user who searched for a certain topic spent on your page and whether they ended up taking an action after (like purchasing a product or filling out a contact form). You can also see if those who searched for a different product were less likely to make a purchase.
Insights like these can influence the content on your page. You can infer where you need more text, video or images to describe a product. This will help you spend your time more wisely.
Keep it Fresh
The search ecosystem is constantly adapting and evolving to user behavior. The only constant is that every search engine’s main focus is to provide the best answer to user’s queries (and, of course, make some money along the way).
The way they serve up those answers (search engine results pages) will always be changing to accompany those two goals. That means your digital strategy needs to evolve with it. Ensure you have a good mix of tactics in your toolkit, so you’ve got your bases covered.
Tripp Stanford is a digital marketer at Papercut Interactive, a web development and digital marketing company founded in 2001. Papercut services include website audits, custom website development, search engine optimization and digital marketing. Learn more at papercutinteractive.com.