Search engine optimization is different than pay-per-click advertising. While they share the goal of driving searchers to a website, you can’t expect the immediate results in SEO that paid search often produces.
Likewise, approaching PPC with an SEO orientation misses opportunities.
The Right to Rank
With SEO, you earn the right to rank in search results. You pay for that right in PPC.
Content relevance is critical in SEO. There’s very little chance that you could rank on page one for any term that wasn’t relevant to the content on your site. No site has the right to rank, no matter how big the brand or how much it spends on content.
Organic rankings are largely based on searchers’ intent. For example, an ecommerce site is less likely to rank for an informational phrase, such as “how to polish boots.” The sites that rank for that phrase are military and fashion blogs, or instructional.
Google has determined, in 20 years of analyzing data, that searchers have expectations based on the keywords they use. When an organic listing doesn’t meet that need, searchers are more likely to bounce back to choose another result. In turn, that contributes less satisfaction with search results overall (and the search engine).
In paid search, lower relevance impacts your Quality Score — Google’s measurement of page quality and the relevance between your ads and your content — which impacts the cost per click. But if you’re willing to increase the bid, you can still rank in paid search when the content couldn’t rank in organic search.
Beyond relevance, the authority conveyed upon a site by the links from others still plays a central role in organic search algorithms. If your site lacks the quality and quantity of links required to outrank the competition for a search phrase, then it’s less likely that it will rank.
Linkless landing pages, on the other hand, typically perform well in paid search — landing pages are the preferred approach when specific messages might not be appropriate for the broader site audience.
Internal links are important as well for SEO, but not for PPC. The hierarchy of your site’s internal linking and navigation demonstrates to search engines which pages are more valuable. More link authority flows to pages that are linked from the home page or the header and footer navigation, giving them a stronger chance to rank and drive revenue.