SEO and paid search are often pitted against each other, and the debate around which is better has been raging for many years. When brands sit down to sort out their budget for the year, the conversation often moves toward discussing which is better. SEO, when done well, provides sustainable results in the long term but is often perceived as too slow. In contrast, paid search offers quick, highly-targeted results but is complex to master.
We don’t think that SEO and paid search should be pitted against each other at all. The two strategies work best in tandem. Google, the search engine we are all aiming to please, also agrees that the two work better together. In an article exploring SEO and PPC, Google states: “Invest your time and energy in both SEO and PPC for a well-rounded strategy.”
Let’s delve a little deeper into why SEO and paid search work best when integrated.
SEO and Paid Search Are Better Together
When used together, SEO and paid search provide brands with a solid digital marketing foundation that gets products and services in front of target audiences.
So, how can you integrate the two to create a more cohesive digital marketing strategy?
Test new keywords
Keywords underpin SEO and paid search strategies—they help businesses target their intended audience to try and get them to convert. A good way to reach these audiences is to use the same keywords in your SEO and paid search efforts, which also ensures your messaging is cohesive.
When it comes to testing new keywords, it’s best to do it with PPC. Creating a PPC ad with new keywords and monitoring the results takes a fraction of the time compared to testing new keywords with SEO. We’re talking several days for PPC versus several months for SEO!
Once you’ve tested new keywords in a PPC campaign and they’ve yielded good results, you can integrate them into your SEO strategy. However, be sure to keep search intent at the front of your mind. Satisfying search intent is Google’s primary goal—make sure to use keywords that your target audiences are actually searching.
Leverage buyer personas
One of the advantages of integrating your SEO and paid search strategies is the ability to leverage buyer personas. Detailed buyer personas allow you to better understand your target audience’s needs and pain points, which allows you to tailor messaging that speaks directly to them.
Utilising buyer personas during the keyword research process is crucial. By identifying specific keywords or keyphrases that your buyer personas are likely using, you can create content that meets their needs. For example, suppose your target audience is working professionals looking for nutritious meal delivery options. In that case, you might target keywords such as “healthy meal delivery” or “healthy meal kits” in your SEO and PPC strategy.
Leveraging buyer personas to create content that is better aligned with your target audience improves your organic search rankings and your PPC ads, creating a successful unified SEO and paid search strategy.
Retarget website visitors
You’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating an SEO strategy, and, to your delight, it’s paying off because you’re receiving more website traffic! However, customers aren’t converting as much as you’d like.
But don’t be too disheartened. The average conversion rate across all industries is pretty low. For example, the average conversion rate for eCommerce is only 2.17 per cent. To convert more customers, you need to do some retargeting.
Retargeting combines your website SEO efforts and PPC ads, as you create ads that specifically retarget users that visited your website but left without converting. When a user leaves your website, an unobtrusive pixel is placed on their browser, which notifies retargeting platforms to serve the user-specific ads based on the pages they visited. When the user visits other websites, they’ll be shown your ads, increasing the chances they’ll convert.
Master the SERP
Sixty-eight per cent of online experiences begin with a search engine. Users type in what they want to see, and most people will click the first few results on the SERP. In fact, over 25 per cent of people click the first Google search result, 15 per cent click the second, 11 per cent the third, and so on. As you can see, CTR falls sharply after the 5th or 6th SERP result.
So, how can you achieve SERP domination to increase website traffic and, by extension, conversion rates?
The best way is to take a dual approach to SEO and PPC. Paid ads are higher up on the page, which increases your chances of visibility. However, a high ranking in the SERP for specific keywords will help capture those who, for whatever reason, skip the ads. But that’s not all—when users see that a brand appears in the paid search section and near the top of the SERP, they are more likely to view the brand as credible.
Utilise SEO and PPC data
Actioning SEO and paid search strategies gives you access to a wealth of data that enables you to see what is working and what needs to be changed. By combining the data from the two strategies, you can drive significant growth for your brand.
The two strategies share some vital performance metrics, including impressions, click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate and more. By using this valuable information to inform content and test the changes by conducting A/B tests, you can learn which keywords work best across SEO and PPC. This, in turn, will allow you to gauge whether you are successfully pushing users down the digital marketing funnel.
Use the same landing pages
Landing pages are a vital part of your joint SEO and paid search strategy. When users click on your PPC ad, you want to ensure they are directed to a relevant landing page that meets their needs and addresses their pain points. This creates a consistent user experience and ensures your brand’s messaging is cohesive across all channels—mixed messaging across channels will only confuse your target audience.
Additionally, focusing on the same landing pages for your SEO and paid search strategy will make it easier for you to track performance and monitor vital metrics that allow you to optimise strategies over time.
Optimise your digital marketing budget
Integrating SEO and paid search allows you to optimise your digital marketing budget. Combining the two strategies (as we’ve explored in this article) maximises return on investment (ROI) and reduces the amount of PPC ad spend that is wasted from poor optimisation.
In our opinion, SEO and paid search are much better together. While many businesses tend to prioritise one or the other, both strategies are essential components in a successful digital marketing strategy, and they yield impressive results when integrated. By testing new keywords with PPC, leveraging buyer personas to create content that appeals to the needs and interests of the target audience and retargeting website visitors, businesses that integrate SEO and PPC can create a more cohesive digital marketing strategy that converts.