Here’s why both paid and organic efforts deserve a place in your digital marketing plan.
Here, you’ll find:
- Reasons to have paid search and SEO in your marketing plan
- Ways search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search complement each other
- Tips for leveraging both to increase ROI
- How these strategies can be integral to overall campaign success
Some things just go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Rhythm and blues. Paid search and SEO.
Paid search targets those searching for keywords related to your business through ads on the search engine results page (SERP).
SEO, on the other hand, ensures your website, content, and social profiles are poised to rank well in organic search results.
While each strategy can be effective on its own, pairing them together is one of the most effective ways to build a strong digital marketing foundation.
So, how can paid search (AKA pay-per-click or PPC) and SEO work together? Read on to find out.
How to make SEO & paid search work together
For starters, each initiative should be deployed consistently and with cohesive messaging.
After all, creating ads that look and sound nothing like your website may confuse visitors and cause them to bounce. It’s up to you to make sure they fit together smoothly instead of working in silos.
The good news? By proactively making sure the paid and organic components of your search engine marketing work together, you can speed up your campaign optimization and boost ROI as a result.
Here are 8 ways to pair PPC and SEO together successfully.
1. Test new keywords
Keywords are pillars of both SEO and PPC strategies — they both fall under the search engine marketing (SEM) umbrella.
You can use the same keywords for both. However, when the time comes to add new search terms to your campaign, testing them with SEO efforts can be time-consuming and labor-intensive (like writing new content and regularly updating existing posts).
On the flip side, testing new keywords with PPC ads is quicker and, often, easier.
Creating an ad with a new keyword and monitoring results can take less than a week. With SEO, it could take months to have enough data to glean real results.
As soon as you see how well a keyword is doing with paid search, you can decide whether it could work for your SEO campaigns and projects.
Pro tip: When selecting keywords for SEO and PPC efforts, be sure to keep intent in mind. As HubSpot explains, you want to avoid keyword traps, or “words and phrases that sound good, but have dual meanings or a mismatched intent.”
2. Retarget visitors
After a decent amount of time and effort put into your SEO strategy, you could see this work paying off by attracting more visitors to your website.
However, data shows that only about 2% of them will convert after the first visit.
The last thing you want is to provide valuable content only to have potential clients use this knowledge for buying products elsewhere. To avoid this problem, you can take advantage of retargeting.
When a user leaves the website, you can inconspicuously attach a piece of code to anonymously track them. As these visitors go to other websites, your ads appear to guide them back to your landing pages. This increases your chances of converting the lead.
Pro tip: Retargeting is evolving with the eventual demise of third-party cookies (more on that below), making things like zero-party data and first-party data even more important.
3. Cross-analyze data
SEO and PPC tactics give you a variety of data to work with. This data is crucial because it can reveal what’s working and what’s not. From there, you can iterate and make updates accordingly.
You can analyze the same metrics from both campaign types, including but not limited to:
- Time spent on site
- Conversion rate
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Local conversions
By using this information and conducting A/B tests, you can figure out which keywords work best and how effectively you’re targeting your buyer persona. And, while it’s possible to analyze metrics for each campaign separately, doing it together can give you more valuable and detailed insights.
Due to new privacy laws — the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) being chief among them — third-party data will be heavily restricted. This leaves advertisers to rely more on consensual first-party data.
They’ll have to adapt to the resulting changes such as ensuring they’re in compliance with all relevant applicable laws, collecting less data overall as users decline tracking, and making do with some less accurate behavioral modeling data that estimates conversions to compensate.
The good news: Coordinated SEO and PPC campaigns help ensure compliance across your entire website. Plus, sharing data can help fill in some of the gaps caused by collecting less data, the loss of third-party data, and the possible inaccuracies of the modeled conversions.
Pro tip: Universal Analytics will end July 1, 2023. The Google Analytics 4 (GA4) rollout to comply with Consent Mode requirements has already begun. That’s why it’s a good idea to go ahead and get familiar with the ins and outs of GA4.
4. Dominate the SERP
Some companies are tempted to stop their paid search marketing campaigns once they achieve impressive organic rankings. But even if your website is proudly sitting on page 1 of the SERP, paid ads will always be higher up on the page, increasing your chances of visibility.
Let’s say your SEO and PPC efforts drive equal traffic individually, 100 visitors each, and both use the same keywords. What would happen if you run them both simultaneously?
Many assume that when running in tandem, they’d still only produce 100 total visitors because they’re appearing for the same searches. However, studies on the subject don’t bear that out.
Search Engine Land looked at these studies and various cases. They found that, despite nothing about the SEO changing, when the PPC ads stopped, the SEO also underperformed.
This is a phenomenon they call “search incrementality,” which proves that the dual strategy of SEO and PPC working together is worth more than the sum of its parts.
When consumers see the same website on top of the SERP and in the ad, they tend to consider it credible. In this case, SEO and PPC complement each other perfectly, with SEO picking up where paid search left off.
Already overwhelmed? Don’t be! Our agency has meshed SEO and paid search efforts for businesses of all sizes — let’s talk about how we can make it happen for yours, too.
5. See faster results
Paid search marketing can give an SEO campaign the push it needs since the latter can take several months to show significant results.
You may already have a high-quality, well-structured website filled with valuable content. But things like domain authority, increased organic traffic, and strong social followings usually take a while to gain momentum.
Alternatively, search ads can bring more visitors to your website in less time than with SEO alone. This information allows you to tweak your SEO campaigns while improving the bounce rate and dwelling time to rank higher on Google.
6. Enhance SEO content through PPC ad copy
The tactics that work for your paid search marketing campaign can often work for SEO as well. The best part about PPC ads is that you can get the first results (even if it’s just analysis) quickly.
Once you see which PPC ads bring the most conversions, you can get valuable information about what type of organic content, title tags, and meta descriptions to use for your website.
And with PPC ads, it’s easy to split-test your work. By testing several types of ad copy, you can determine what works for both the ad and what could work on your website.
7. Learn more about your target audience
Paid social media ads are another effective way to gain insight into the way your target audience feels, thinks, and acts. One great thing about social media advertising is the targeting options available on various platforms.
You can get hyper-specific about who you want seeing your ads (like middle-aged luxury car owners who live in Chicago and love fishing, for example).
When you analyze data from these campaigns, you can discover new information about the target audience and use it for both your future PPC and SEO programs.
8. Optimize your budget
Using PPC and SEO together doesn’t just enhance your overall marketing efforts. It can also help you cut costs, generate additional revenue, and save time.
Leverage these in tandem by:
- Cutting content creation costs by testing keywords with PPC ads
- Generating revenue with PPC conversions while an SEO campaign gains momentum
- Saving time on keyword research by using the same keywords for both campaigns
- Speeding up your SEO campaign with PPC retargeting and lead generation efforts
- Optimizing your landing pages with both SEO and PPC in mind
SEO and PPC don’t only coexist well, but they can enhance one another with results greater than the sum of their parts.
In this way, they complement one another, improve your bottom line, and help your overall program succeed.
By learning how to make these two marketing strategies work together, you are giving your campaigns a powerful boost.
This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2020.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Chapters
What is SEM
Benefits of SEM
Costs to Consider
Proven Strategies and Examples
Growth Optimization Tips
SEM vs. SEO
How SEM + SEO Work Better Together
How to Setup a Campaign
SEM for B2B Companies
How to Hire an Expert
Full Service SEM Agency