While SEO and PPC are unique channels that both work well alone, combining insights and data from the two for greater results and more visibility can help your overall digital marketing strategy and help increase your ranks in the SERPs.
What is the difference between SEO and PPC?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of optimizing your online content to rank your website and content pages higher in the organic SERPs (search engine results pages). In order to improve your organic ranking, consider the basics of SEO which includes keywords, keyword strategy, long-tail keywords, meta data, headings and H1 tags, and more.
PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, is a marketing channel where brands pay every time their ad is clicked on by a user. Brands compete for ad position in a real-time auction with bids (the dollar amount they’re willing to pay) and high-quality ad content. The auction winners will appear sequentially from first (top of page) to last (bottom of page). Because of the dynamics of the real-time auction, ads and ad placements are constantly changing throughout the day.
While SEO and PPC are different and work differently, they also have similarities. While SEO often drives more traffic to a site, PPC is still worth looking into for brands that have a budget for it. An SEO vs PPC survey showed that 70-80% of searchers ignore paid ads and skip immediately to organic results. Both SEO and PPC ads focus heavily around optimizing for specific keywords. You can leverage keyword data produced from your PPC ad to improve your SEO strategy and you can utilize SEO to optimize PPC landing pages.
Benefits of PPC and SEO working together
Knowing how to use SEO and PPC together is a critical step in expanding your digital strategy to nurture top-of-funnel leads to the bottom-of-the-funnel. SEO helps widen the top of your funnel as it drives traffic on many terms and many topics while paid can be used to drive bottom-of-funnel conversions. PPC is a great channel to generate bottom funnel leads that are more likely to convert through targeted keyword bids. This can include targeting users that have previously clicked on your ads via retargeting.
One benefit of PPC is that you’re not subject to the shifts of Google’s algorithm updates. Your quality score, budget, and competition all factor into whether your PPC ad is displayed and successful, but these are far more straightforward and easier to optimize.
Additionally, pairing a strong SEO strategy with targeted and actionable PPC campaigns will lead to a greater percentage of the real estate on the SERP, as PPC ads will appear at the top of the page with organic results appearing below. These are great opportunities to create different experiences for your audience off of the same query. The organic results may direct visitors to an informational page, while the PPC landing page is focused on converting visitors via a clear CTA.
Finally, sites can gain immediate brand visibility and targeted clicks for ads focused around high-performing keywords. Testing PPC ads before committing to a long-term SEO strategy, or while your strategy is getting off the ground, can help expand your business and help you determine which keywords are worth going after organically.
When to use SEO and PPC together?
There are many reasons to use SEO and PPC together. Some of them include the following:
- You need to own a few specific keywords in the SERPs (often brand keywords)
- You’re building brand awareness
- You’re promoting a product, services, or location launches
- Reputation management
- You have the budget to do both SEO and PPC
Combining SEO and PPC isn’t just about gaining the most real estate for your primary keywords. Consider combining SEO and PPC efforts when your brand name is suffering in the organic SERPs and your positive PR or site pages aren’t appearing.
You will find it most beneficial to use PPC and SEO together when you want to maximize your site traffic for a keyword(s) or campaign. For example, if you’re an E-commerce company doing SEO and you want to promote a “red sneakers” campaign, you’d want to create an ad that directly links users to your product categories offering red sneakers. You can link your ad to a page where the filters are already added and send users to all the red sneakers on your site. For SEO in this situation, you’ll want to optimize your red sneakers product or category pages to give them the best opportunity to rank organically underneath your paid ad.
How to use SEO and PPC together?
Running a PPC ad will provide your SEO team with a large source of data and metrics including click-through and conversion rates for better SEO tactics in the future. These steps will help you get started using SEO and PPC in tandem.
- Optimize your PPC ads and your pages for the same high-value keywords.
- Look at the strengths of both SEO and PPC and combine them.
- Track your highest CTRs to see which topics are most popular on your site, optimize their landing pages for SEO, and promote the same topics via advertisements.
- Remarket and directly target users who have previously visited your site as they’re more likely to convert.
In short, PPC is more about converting bottom-of-funnel and triggering a conversion event like a sale. Leverage PPC when you want your audience to be well-informed of your brand and products from the organic searching they did during top-of-funnel research. On the other hand, organic is about optimizing all pages on your site, whether informational, transactional, or educational, and to do so with multiple goals in mind including generating top-of-funnel site visits. Use them both together to achieve as much real estate in the SERPs as possible.