SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click) are two forms of digital marketing that focus primarily on your website showing up on search engines such as Google and Bing. Small businesses will often choose just one or the other to focus on, but today I’m going to look at how the two work best together to inform strategies and generate the best results.
Before starting here, you may want to take a look at my beginners’ guides to both SEO and PPC:
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation – usually referred to as SEO – refers to the strategies and tactics you use to increase organic (i.e. not paid) traffic to your website. This is usually done by getting your site listed in the highest possible search results on sites such as Google.
SEO involves strategies such as content creation, link building and technical improvements to your website.
This kind of search engine marketing usually takes time, often months or years, to have an effect. It’s ideal if you’re a business thinking ahead to your long-term strategy. When you start seeing results, they can be long-standing and extremely effective.
What is PPC?
Pay Per Click – or PPC – is a way to direct paid traffic to your website. A user clicks on your ad and you pay for that click. You can use a whole range of adverts in PPC, including text-only ads, Shopping Ads, and banner ads.
PPC is generally more expensive than SEO in the long-run, but results are often faster. Paid ads – when optimised correctly – are more visible in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), either because they’re right at the top of the page, or because they use eye-catching images.
Traffic to your website will often be boosted by PPC, though when you stop running ads, your traffic will probably reduce to normal levels.
How SEO and PPC Are Most Effective When Used Together
There is a theory in search engine marketing known as “1+1=3”. The idea behind this is that, when done individually, SEO and PPC each generate one visit to your website. However, when used together, they will generate three visits. There are even studies that demonstrate this actually happening.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how PPC and SEO work best together.
Imagine you are organically ranking well for a phrase, such as Lake District tipi hire. Your website is already visible on the first page of Google through SEO. Unfortunately, there are several competitor websites showing above your organic listing because they have paid for prime space with ads.
In general, Google Ads will show two or three ads above the organic results. By placing your own ad, you not only knock at least one of those competitors off the top spots, but you also double your own visibility. Now your target audience is seeing you both in the ads and the organic listings. You’re taking up more space and are more likely to be noticed.
Even if you’re not showing organically in the top results (yet!), PPC can give you a head start by allowing you to ‘skip the queue’ while you wait for your SEO strategy to take effect.
You can dominate the results even further by optimising your social media for SEO.
Both PPC and SEO require good keyword research to target relevant users who are actually looking for what you offer. By using both of these marketing tools, you can share keyword information to adjust and improve your strategy.
If you’re in the early days of SEO, you won’t have a huge amount of keyword data to work with here. However, as PPC campaigns provide much quicker results, you can use these keywords to inform your SEO.
After running ads for a short time, take a closer look at the search phrases they’re showing for. Which ones are converting well? These can be used in your SEO to create copy that will also drive traffic to your website.
Similarly, once you start seeing results from your SEO work, this keyword data can be used to improve PPC results.
Copy that performs well on ads has a good chance of performing well in organic search too.
As we’ve already established, ads provide quick results, so you can rapidly test different copy, analyse results, and identify the best performers. By using high-performing text from your ads in your SEO content, you can boost your chances of climbing the organic rankings. Use the ad text for page titles, content, and meta data.
You can organically test different text, too, but this takes much longer.
The more a user sees your brand, the more likely they are to think of you when they’re ready to buy. Showing up in both ads and organic results means you get seen more, and you make users twice as aware of your brand. If you’re not yet ranking highly for SEO, then ads provide a good way to introduce your brand to new users.
The better a user knows you, the more likely they are to trust you as a company, and to click through to your site.
There are all sorts of different types of PPC ads, and some are directly influenced by SEO. Google’s Shopping Ads, for example, pull information directly from your website and use the information there to show your products to potential customers. By optimising product pages on your website, you optimise your ads.
It’s beneficial to SEO to include a search function on your website, particularly for larger sites. If users regularly utilise this, you can see exactly what they’re searching, and use this to influence your PPC campaigns. Users seeking certain products are probably actively considering buying, and you can serve up ads related to popular site search phrases in order to highlight products of interest.
Making use of speedy PPC again, you can test demographics with ads. Target ages, gender, household income and more with your ads and see who’s most interested in your site. Not only can you use this data to double-down on the most effective PPC ads, but it can influence the way you present content on your site. Does your writing style, overall site experience, and brand resonate with the people most likely to use it? Let this information inform your SEO strategy as necessary.
SEO and PPC can work well separately, especially if you don’t have the resources to use both. However, as and when you’re able, I would recommend using both in order to boost visibility, increase sales, and generate more website traffic.