Using PPC to Help Your SEO – Part 1


Note: This is a re-post of my latest SEO Blog post for (June 10th, 2009):

PPC & SEO Working TogetherFor many businesses, pay-per-click campaigns make good sense. The core concept is simple: pay top dollar to get top ranking, and the more you pay the more traffic you receive (I realize I’m over-simplifying here). On the other hand, organic search optimization (a.k.a. SEO) is more abstract and technical (not to mention time-consuming), and because of this many marketers opt to ignore SEO and focus only on PPC.You can also use PPC to buy soundcloud plays for your channel.

In this two part blog post I’ll share some thoughts on how PPC and SEO can work together to better optimize your search strategies and improve the success of both streams.

Choose the right keywords

Technical aspects of search engine optimization aside, the biggest stumbling blocks for businesses starting SEO efforts are:

a) it often takes a lot of time to actually see results for SEO

b) you need to wait a long time to determine if you are targeting the right keywords or not, and if you chose wrong – more waiting.

An easy way to avoid choosing the wrong keywords is simply to test the value of your keywords before you heavily commit to your organic search strategy. To test keywords, buy PPC ads from Google to see which ones are driving traffic to your site. PPC ads are a reliable and usable way of forecasting how a particular keyword might direct qualified traffic and conversions if optimized on a regular page for the organic results. So wherever a natural search optimization (NSO) forecast is needed, paid search can act as a reliable predictor.

There are also a number of great conversion tracking tools that show you which of your keywords will convert well. Bid on a variety of keywords tightly related to your business, and use keyword suggestion tools to see what you have missed. Odds are you will miss obvious keyword phrases – especially juicy long-tail terms. Find out which keywords perform well, and set up your initial SEO keyword strategy based on the top performing terms.

Blend Web analytics reports

Having organic and paid search results reported in the same place helps us to better understand the relationship between the two and think about a searcher’s complete journey, rather than paid or organic in isolation. Use your Web analytics tool to segment traffic by source (PPC and Organic Search) side-by-side for particular keywords.

Reporting PPC and SEO in tandem is advantageous in a number of ways, even for determining keywords that aren’t performing for either stream which most likely means your prospects just aren’t searching for those terms.

Blended reporting helps you identify the keywords for which you should be optimizing your Web site. Optimized pages will rank high on the search engine results pages, eliminating the need to buy those keywords (although there are advantages to showing up everywhere as well – see “Blanket Branding” in part 2 of this post coming soon).

Optimize Web content with PPC ad copy

Use the successful copy in your paid search marketing campaigns to your advantage. If it works in PPC, it’s likely that it can be transferred to your organic content optimization to help boost natural Web page rankings as well. It’s easy to change PPC ad titles, links and content on the fly, and analyze the results of these changes more quickly than waiting for the results of SEO efforts. Does a particular keyword/phrase used in the title increase clicks? Does the ad text compel readers to click? The winning content and keywords found from playing around with PPC ad content can then be applied more confidently to your Web site content optimization efforts for SEO purposes.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post in which I’ll discuss more abstract, yet equally important ways PPC and SEO can work together in regards to landing pages, blanket branding, and the long-tail search.

1 Comment

  1. Great points Jeff.

    I’ve been kind of blindly doing this for the past three years without really being to articulate it.

    Initially with I would use my free Adwords credits that I would get on occasion and use them up on campaigns targeting the keywords google suggested. I would then write related articles with those keywords and before you knew it my site was ranked first page for anything to do with “recycling computers in Ontario” back in 2008.

    Thanks for explaining what I was doing… now I can explain it to someone else!