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Digital Chemistry – How to Ignite the Spark between PPC and SEO Minds

As with many relationships, the hidden magic that takes place at the intersection of SEO and PPC may not be obvious at first glance. In my role at RKG, I spend a lot of time working with SEO and PPC teams alike to identify how to best integrate the knowledge base and strengthen our ability to in impact digital performance for our clients. Ultimately, I find that PPC and SEO experts each view the world from unique perspectives, and while they share a common keyword search driven terminology, they also speak distinct languages that sometimes need translation. It’s a worthy challenge to find the sweet spot where each team can maintain integrity, while being enhanced by the insights of the other. We find that an investment of time and effort creates common ground and results in a depth of understanding that allows us to solve more problems collectively than either the PPC or the SEO experts can solve independently. Both SEO and PPC share commonalities that complement and strengthen each other. They are brand focused, revenue driven, relevancy focused, keyword and landing page focused and they are each driven by search and user intent. But, the big question, is how do we play better together? True SEO and PPC integration should be looked at from all levels. From determining how to maximize revenue for both channels to unifying brand presence within the SERPs, there are numerous opportunities. Both teams should be proactive about asking questions and determining campaign goals. Important questions include, “How can we reduce ad spend alongside improving rankings? or “Is there a larger marketing campaign, PR or social event that we can build upon and strengthen?” The greatest opportunities to fully integrate PPC and SEO campaigns can be evaluated from several perspectives. However, for the sake of sanity, and character count, I’m limiting the focus to the following:

  • Cohesive promotional and URL pushes
  • Shared actionable insights
  • Shared reporting
  • Measurable interactions

Landing Page Synchronizing One of the first areas we look to for opportunity to synchronize PPC and SEO strategy for clients is through synchronization at the URL level.  PPC teams should look to their SEO counterparts and make sure keyword targets and landing pages are aligned with the designated SEO targets as closely as possible. Additionally, ensuring that the PPC landing page is in sync with the SEO recommended canonical URLs will help to centralize social sharing and backlink signals for users who share or link to a PPC landing page.  For some pages the gains will be minimal, but, why not push equity towards a single page and get the most bang from your PPC spend? Ultimately, aligning the pages will make it easier to extract key takeaways and help unify the reporting data to reflect a comprehensive picture of performance across the two channels. Sending traffic through both SEO and PPC channels to a single landing page can also help gather insight for optimization of keyword targets at the URL level.  Evaluating top converting PPC keywords and ad copy calls-to-action helps us optimize page titles, improve organic CTR and identify keyword targets as well. SEO improvements will help with PPC relevancy and SEO benefits from social interactions or links into the page. Even in cases where it doesn’t make sense to synchronize at the URL level, perhaps because the SEO targeted landing page isn’t a good match for PPC, there is still insight to be had.  The SEO team can gain fruitful information from PPC data such as:

  • Which URL is converting better and why?
  • How conversions are impacting overall revenue for the keyword set.
  • How the data can help identity opportunities for SEO targeted landing pages.

Cohesive Promotional Push Linking PPC and SEO targets for promotions, brand marketing, or targeted areas of the site is a wise marketing tactic and one that can strengthen the campaign in the following ways:

  • Improving SEO scoring values
  • Evaluating keyword and messaging opportunities
  • Creating a centralized online marketing and brand presence

Additionally, unifying PPC and SEO to ensure cohesive promotional campaigns can increase  brand presence in the SERPs and could help push scoring signals and traffic into the targeted pages to impact page level and domain authority. SEO teams can direct focus toward on-page optimizations, link development, and ranking signals and both teams can work together to align key messaging, landing pages, keywords and timelines to achieve a unified search campaign. Keyword Gap  One of the greatest SEO tools for identifying keyword gaps comes from the analysis of available paid search data. Adam has even illustrated this case in a previous post about PPC and SEO integration. The fact is, good SEOs use PPC keyword data to fuel their strategy. By reviewing top performing keywords in paid search, it’s much easier to identify quality and high converting keywords and groups and identify keyword patterns to improve on-page optimizations and identify content opportunities. But, by really really looking at the data, opportunities to scale solutions can be identified The ability to generate new organic revenue by identifying new keyword opportunity is an area worthy of significant attention because the gains from generating this unrealized revenue through organic search can be massive. These findings create content opportunities and are typically found by:

  • Identifying clear patterns and site architecture opportunities to build out new pages for proven, high-performing keywords.
  • Identifying keywords that will provide significant revenue opportunities and create new pages and ranking opportunities through the site.
  • Identifying existing pages that are performing well in PPC and identifying top converting keywords for on-page optimization opportunities (page titles, heading tags, content).
  • Identifying keyword or internal linking cannibalization.

Identifying patterns to improve the site architecture, navigation, and facets provides a scalable solution for industrial sized sites to add large volumes of relevant, high converting keywords already proven through paid search.  Some common patterns we’ve identified include:

  • Product lines
  • Genders
  • Sizes
  • Colors
  • Topics
  • Brands
  • Models

By identifying the demand and conversion opportunity for a new facet based upon proven data, it’s easy to build a case to a development team and get support for building a facet through the entire navigation.  And ultimately, the rationale and learning can be applied across the entire navigation to include all brands and categories. Shared Learnings and Actionable Insight In addition to what we learn from keyword and landing page gaps, many of the advantages to be gained from integrating SEO and PPC campaigns come from actionable takeaways. At one time or another each team may need to lean a bit on the findings from the other in order to realize the maximum value of respective information and analysis. For example, SEO teams should always test high converting PPC ad copy for improvement opportunities that can be applied to improve the CTAs used in meta descriptions and on-page components to improve click through rate from organic search. And, let’s face it. There are times when a site changes, is impacted by a redesign or simply hasn’t achieved its targeted rankings. SEOs can proactively anticipate the loss from organic search and lean on PPC team members to help minimize the potential revenue loss. Through identification of high-revenue-producing keywords, categories and landing page URLs, an integrated team can compensate for an organic search hit by allocating additional resources to PPC efforts. On the flip side, focusing on separate keyword targets makes sense when there are budget constraints or other factors dictating the online search strategy. In this case, the SEO team should identify keywords within organic search that have maintained and are strong in the top 1-3 positions and the PPC team should evaluate the opportunity to share the victory and adjust or reduce bidding on the term. Clear Patterns and Site Architecture Opportunities for New Pages Inevitably each client is interested in a different set of insights and metrics related to a unified SEO and PPC effort. Some want to see the integration at the reporting level while others want to dive into the data and get answers to some of the trickier questions the search industry is constantly asking itself. Such as:

  • What is the revenue lift for PPC and SEO for targeted sets of keywords on unified landing pages?
  • What is the revenue lift for PPC and SEO on different landing pages within the same SERP?
  • What is the attribution of PPC and SEO for shared keyword targets?
  • What conversion improvements, comparisons and attribution differences are there for pages with social signals and different ad models for shared SEO and PPC keyword targets versus ones that aren’t utilizing other channels or tools?
  • What is the estimated lift in organic search and revenue on targeted landing pages once optimized as a result of keyword gap findings?

Measurable Interactions Measuring the interaction between SEO and PPC mediums can be tricky and should be tested and addressed based upon the needs and priorities of brands and marketing departments. Some important questions to ask include:

  • What is the overall traffic and revenue impact upon a group of targeted keywords ranking organically in the top 1-3 position when the PPC keyword is paused?
  • What is the overall traffic and revenue impact upon a group of targeted keywords ranking organically in the top 4-10 position when the PPC keyword is paused or its bid is adjusted?
  • What is the overall traffic and revenue impact upon a group of targeted keywords ranking organically in the top 4-10 position when we kick off PPC bidding on those terms that weren’t previously bid upon?  Is there a correlation between ad position and organic ranking?

When it comes to SEO and PPC integration, there is no doubt that extracting insight, will require coordination. Yet, the additional effort will reward digital marketers with new insights and opportunities to maximize resources and improve overall performance. As with any collaboration, it’s important to watch for the potential pitfalls. The greatest failure to align will likely be the result of a failure to communicate. The key is to encourage the conversations that move client success forward.

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