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7 Ways SEO & PPC Can Work Together in 2021

If your SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) teams exist in complete silos, it’s time to change that.

Commonly held opposing viewpoints are: PPC is too complex, and SEO is too slow. (For the record, I don’t agree.)

When these two teams collaborate, you’ll be rewarded with magical insights, learnings, and results that neither team could get on its own.

These channels aren’t meant to be siloed, and getting them aligned is one of the most underrated ways to improve your overall digital marketing performance.

PPC is one of SEO’s most powerful tools — and vice versa. Here are seven ways to thrive in both SEO and PPC.

1. Avoid paid keyword traps.

Sharing keyword intelligence is a standard best practice. Sometimes, certain types of keywords can have subtle differences, and end up aligning to the wrong intent. It’s important to understand the intent behind search terms, because you want to avoid keyword traps.

SEO-focused marketers are the masters of understanding search intent, and therefore collaboration between SEO and SEM is critical.

For example, the restaurant POS software, Toast, is bidding on “phone systems for restaurants” but they don’t sell phone systems! They’re broad match bidding on terms containing “restaurant.”

search results for phone systems for restaurants

This is why Google has become a modern day casino for advertisers. The marketing team at Toast is gambling on the mere possibility that restaurant managers seeking a phone system might also be in the market for POS software.

While it might work, the potential for bleeding is likely. That said, Toast is venture-backed and valued at $4.9B, so this is probably a gamble they’re comfortable taking.

You need to study the search

results closely if you want to master the art of understanding keyword intent. Google often signals their own interpretation of a search term, based on the types of results.

For example, if you Google “sales funnel” the search engine results page (SERP) indicates you’re looking for the definition of a sales funnel.

The results are largely definition style SEO pages, and therefore it’s obvious that a product page wouldn’t rank for this query.

search results for sales funnel

Let’s examine another example of a keyword trap. If you perform a Google search for “online training” you’re going to see two vastly different results in the ads.

  • Cisco – Virtual Classroom Solutions
  • Udemy – Best Selling Online Courses
search results for online training

These are two wildly different search intents. How do you know if a searcher wants online training software versus online courses? There’s no way to be 100% certain.

However, the organic results are overwhelmingly online course companies such as Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera. The people also ask box is hinting at the search intent, because most of the questions are about online training.

people also ask box

Based on what the organic listings are showing, I would conclude that Cisco’s ad is largely irrelevant. They might get lucky and grab some clicks, but they’re probably losing money on this ad set.

Now, the question becomes, do they care? Probably not. After all, they’re a $180B market cap, which means Cisco can afford to continue making Google rich.

search result for cisco market cap

What about the small guys? This is where SMBs have a tremendous disadvantage, and can’t afford to bleed on paid ads like the behemoths. For that reason, I would recommend startups prioritize SEO efforts in order to avoid the royal rumble of paid ads with giant companies like Cisco.

Let’s also examine “sms marketing examples” where Mobile Monkey nails the search intent with this page, and gets rewarded with the organic featured snippet. Meanwhile, advertisers are off the mark.

  • Vonage – hoping that a subset of searchers might be interested in APIs for SMS.
  • Remarkety – hoping that a subset of searchers might be interested in SMS marketing solutions.
featured snippet search result for sms marketing examples

What’s the bottom line?

SEOs will habitually review SERP signals to make sure the content they publish matches with Google’s organic search results, and ultimately delivers a high degree of satisfaction with regard to searcher task accomplishment.

Is your content helping searchers accomplish the task they need to complete?

This is particularly useful when there are potential keyword traps — words and phrases that sound good, but have dual meanings or a mismatched intent.

If potential dual meanings exist in your industry, SEOs will catch them. All that’s left to do is to get them to share their insights with your PPC team.

2. Share PPC insights on best performing headlines and descriptions.

When your SEO team decides to pursue a new keyword, it can be months before they see measurable results. If it was the right keyword and phrase to target, that’s success.

But if click-through rate (CTR) and engagement is low — even if it ranks on page one — you’ve now spent your time and budget running circles in an SEO hamster wheel. And, by the way, CTR is an indirect SEO ranking factor.

SEM is the exact opposite. You’ll know whether or not PPC ad copy is working — usually within a matter of days with low investment. So you might consider using PPC to get fast, short-term results, and use those insights to fuel your larger SEO strategy.

Test as many ad copy variations as possible, until you have the data that will support your SEO campaigns.

Here are some things you can test:

  • Headlines, title tags, and description copy.
  • Keywords and topics.
  • Specific keyword angles.
  • Landing page variations.
  • New product messaging.

PPC campaign results will reveal each headline’s impact on clicks, time on page, bounce rate, goal completions, and other meaningful engagement signals. If you run longer tests, you can also learn how a specific keyword’s demand fluctuates from month to month, which will help you set more accurate expectations with your SEO team.

Use PPC insights to choose the best topics, write and optimize your headlines and meta descriptions, and align to your audience’s needs and expectations.

3. Optimize your landing pages to reap both SEO and PPC benefits.

Spending money on paid ads without running efficient landing page tests could result in tons of wasted money and effort. 

The benefits of optimizing your landing pages are fairly obvious: you don’t burn precious marketing dollars on ineffective content experiences.

If you’re looking for more in-depth specifics on creating landing pages that convert, I would recommend checking out 19 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2020.

Ultimately, SEO & PPC teams must align their most valuable assets —landing pages.

3 important actions need to happen:

  1. You have a noindexed, conversion focused landing page built for PPC advertising. Your main goal conversions are going to be form completions, demo requests, live chat inquiries, etc.
  2. You are working with the SEO and CRO teams to build new landing page variants with intelligent hypotheses. Your goal is to split test these pages and monitor the results.
  3. You are working with the SEO team to create a separate asset, which is longer-form and educational, on the same topic for which you want to drive organic visibility.

Ultimately, marketers should craft a surround sound search engine marketing strategy.

Say, for example, a shopper searches for your brand or product name, clicks on your PPC ad, stays for a minute, and then exits the page.

Days later, they search for guides to help them choose a solution, which leads them to an educational piece of content you produced on that same topic.

As they click around, browse, and scroll through the online listings, your brand is on their radar. They get used to your tone, visuals, and messaging. If they liked what they saw through your PPC ads, they’ll look for your name in a sea of organic listings the next time — and vice versa.

In brand marketing, what gets repeated gets remembered, and what gets remembered, gets done.

SEO expert, Rand Fishkin, wrote about the ludicrously powerful influence of brand repetition in his 2020 election recap article: – Read more

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