ppc vs seo

When I entered the world of search engine marketing, I fell in love with PPC right away. I became obsessed. It’s all I wanted to do. That being said it also meant I didn’t want to have anything to do with SEO because I wasn’t interested in it. It wasn’t until I worked at an agency where marketers worked on both PPC and SEO programs that I realized how much they truly help each other. By growing my knowledge of SEO, I was able to improve the performance of my paid search accounts without hindering my organic performance. Here are some important ways you can boost your PPC performance by expanding your SEO brains…

1. Landing Page Benefits

This is the easy one. Landing page quality is a big factor in quality scores for both Google AdWords and BingAds. Bing has flat out told it’s advertisers that if you have poor to mediocre landing page relevance or UX, then there is no way your quality scores will get higher than a 5.

Relevance can easily be obtained by making sure your landing pages’ meta data connects with your search terms is a fantastic way to boost landing page quality. Double check your URL, title tags, H1 tags and page content to see if your targeted search terms are found in those items. Remember to be natural in your keyword insertion. Over-stuffing keywords into these elements can actually get you penalized organically and hurt your rankings.  It doesn’t matter if you want these pages to not be found organically (I’ll get to that real soon). Optimizing your paid search landing page meta data will help your relevance and quality scores.

User experience is the other aspect of landing page quality. If you’re using pages built into the main site navigation, how is that experience to users? Is the next step a user is supposed to take easily defined? Is the user going to be confident that they landed on the correct page? Can the user easily navigate through the site from your landing page to lower bounce rates? Making sure your site structure makes sense with your target audience will help user interaction with your website. If your site is easier to use, then one can expect better conversion rates which will help the performance of your keywords and your ads. Have a different set of eyes play with your clients’ websites. Are they easy to use from an outsider’s perspective? If not, make changes to the site structure or page content to better your UX. Your SEO and PPC campaigns will both benefit.

2. Use Webmaster Tools and Its Adsbot

It is very common for PPC marketers to create multiple landing pages for the same product. Their reason might be to have multiple landing pages that benefit different search queries. One problem that could occur is that they are hurting their SEO performance by creating duplicate content. Google’s Panda Algorithm penalizes sites that have duplicate content because they mimic content farm websites that normally are poor in quality. So no, duplicate content won’t hurt your PPC performance, but why do you want to hurt your organic rankings too?  The answer is your robots.txt file. Take a look at mine. http://www.joemartinezsem.com/robots.txt. 

The robots.txt file serves two main purposes. First is to call out your sitemap.xml. Second is to tell the search engine bots which pages of your site to not follow and which pages to not index. Adding all of those duplicate landing pages to your robots.txt will help your website not get penalized by Google for any content infractions. However, you also want to make sure you’re not blocking your PPC landing pages from being crawled. You should be fine if you’re not blocking the AdWords system from crawling your entire site. (User-agent: AdsBot-Google). Now, that’s where the Adsbot tester in Webmaster Tools comes in.

webmaster tools adsbot

Click to enlarge

Adsbot in Google Webmaster Tools is the best way to crawl your PPC landing pages to make sure they are not blocked out in your robots.txt.  This will help advertisers confirm that all of their duplicate content pages are blocked, but will allow Google to still crawl your pages purely for quality score review for landing page quality. If this scenario applies to you, log in to Webmaster Tools, block out duplicate content pages in the robots.txt and then test with Adsbot to make sure your landing pages can still be crawled by AdWords.  

3. More Keyword Possibilities

The words “not provided” have struck fear in the hearts of many digital marketers. We used to be able to see all organic search queries in Google Analytics that brought traffic to our websites. PPC marketers could use these search queries to come up with new keyword ideas. In fall of 2011, Google started to show “not provided” as the keyword for queries of users who were logged into their Google accounts. This was supposedly done to protect the privacy of their users. Google Analytics might not provide those searches anymore, but Webmaster Tools does…only a slight percentage.

webmaster tools search queries

When you log into Webmaster Tools, go to Search Traffic on the left-hand side, then click Search Queries. Here is where you can get a portion of your past organic search queries. Some is better than none so utilize this tactic. Also keep in mind that you you can only get the past 120 days of search queries…and this is a rolling 120 days. Then they’re gone forever. Make it a habit to pull your organic search queries every month. Look at the organic CTR’s, find the gems and start adding these to your campaigns.

4. Understanding the Greater Picture

I will be bold enough to state that if you are not looking at how your PPC efforts affect other entrance channels, then you are doing your clients a disservice. Our goal as marketers should not be to show our clients just how PPC is growing, but how our PPC efforts are affecting their total business.

In fall of 2013, Kenshoo released a study on how PPC and SEO relate to each other. The results are not surprising. When organic rankings are higher, PPC clicks go down.

 search sandbox

This shouldn’t be news that makes a PPC advertiser panic. This is news that screams new opportunities. Most of my clients understand the big picture and are happy when their business as a whole is growing. When it comes down to the bare bones, they don’t care how it got better. That’s why I show my clients assisted conversions and revenue as well as multi-channel funnel paths so they can see the whole picture of how our PPC efforts influence conversions through other channels.

multi channel funnels

If we come across certain campaigns, ad groups or keywords that aren’t performing well, we can look at the entire picture in Google Analytics before making a decision. Maybe our PPC efforts helped push a lot of conversions from the organic side. Google Analtyics gives us the assisted conversion data in several levels to see if your ad groups or keywords are helping your overall marketing efforts. And understand that this goes both ways. If you increase your organic rankings, you can expect to see more assisted conversions that support PPC. When you own top SEO and PPC rankings, you are dominating the SERP real estate and increasing the odds that a user will land on your website.

Jump over to the “dark side.” Getting familiar with SEO performance and tactics will give you an extra knowledge base to go out and improve your current PPC accounts. Once you see the entire picture, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on future optimizations.