Paid Search and SEO: Better together

By: Katie Stout

Digital Marketing Strategist


With the seemingly-endless amount of marketing tools and tactics available, it can be overwhelming when trying to decide how to best address the goals and priorities of your business in regards to marketing.

It’s unlikely that you will find a more compatible pair than organic search engine optimization (SEO) and the pay-per-click (PPC) method of paid search. By understanding these tactics and their individual benefits, it’s easy to see how the combination of SEO and PPC can successfully evolve your marketing efforts.

On the Same Wavelength

In traditional marketing, methods of targeting rely on demographics to inform your marketing strategy. However, with paid search and SEO, the search process shifts from focusing on who the customer is to what the customer is saying. With this shift, businesses can target individuals through the language they use within a search and the intent behind that language.

Keywords Do All of the Work For You

Being able to narrow your target to the most qualified searchers, is dependant on your understanding of human behavior surrounding your brand. In paying attention to what your customers and potential customers are saying, keyword research is essential and will be the determining factor in the success of your SEO and PPC endeavors.

While most of the subsequent skills that it takes to run PPC campaigns or optimize a website for search aren’t entirely transferable, conducting keyword research is almost identical, regardless of which search tactic route you are on.

Search Engines Are Fickle Creatures

It’s no secret that search engines aren’t stationary platforms and the frequent changes in their algorithms can affect both paid search efforts and organic optimizations. While these changes can be sudden, if your PPC and SEO strategies have been done correctly, the effects on your return will be minimal.

Differentiating Search Tactics

Despite the fact that the foundation of these marketing tactics are incredibly similar, each have their own distinct characteristics and bring something useful to the table.

Long-Term Vs. Short-Term

If you are looking for instant gratification, PPC is your guy. A simple PPC campaign can be set up within a week or so, and once the campaign is activated, additional traffic will begin to flow to your site. It is worth noting that as quickly as these results are seen, they can disappear just as fast when a campaign’s budget is is maximized or removed.

On the other hand, SEO takes time, and we aren’t talking about a few short months. Maintaining a relationship with SEO takes consistent effort over a long period of time. Think of SEO as building relationships with your customers and others in your industry. To successfully do so, you will need to create content, consistently update your website and build backlinks to make real progress. In contrast to PPC, the work put into these optimizations is much more durable than a paid search campaign can ever be.

Traffic Potential

Both PPC and SEO have the ability to drive an enormous amount of traffic to your site. The trick comes down to how this traffic makes it to your site. With PPC, you have the ability to direct traffic to a particular landing page designed to deliver your message. That traffic begins pouring in as soon as your campaign goes live and ends when your campaign is deactivated. With SEO, the page that appears is determined by the search engine and that result outlasts any PPC campaign that it is included in. Comparing the two, data shows that over time, for every click on a paid search result, the organic results generate 8.5 clicks.

What Will It Set You Back?

You might be surprised to discover that the cost of paid search and search engine optimization are not typically on the same level. The results of PPC are directly tied to the budget you assign to a specific campaign while setting it up. Think of it as paying to hold a temporary ad position. When considering both of these tactics and their cost, keep in mind that spend on SEO is one-eighth of PPC.

Closing the Deal

To understand what differentiates paid search from organic search, you have to understand user intent. Keywords targeted by paid search often indicate purchase intent rather than words or phrases that indicate that the user wants to research a topic. This is because these general words cost more and target less qualified users, which means you will be spending more money on those people that aren’t ready to make a decision.

In SEO, it’s almost better to include target keywords that are more general and problem-oriented words, rather than only sales focused keywords. If you were hyper-focused on selling your product you wouldn’t collect potential customers before they are ready to pull the trigger. Instead of spending your entire marketing budget on paid search to reach users that are simply looking for more information, SEO is a more economical way to capture potential customers who are not at the purchase stage.

Knowing a little more about the difference in how these tactics are targeted you’d be right to think that paid search clicks convert more than SEO clicks, on average 1.5X the rate of organic clicks.

Two is Better Than One

What makes PPC and SEO such a great pair? The fact is that when used in tandem, the two tactics work together to amplify each other’s strengths and minimize weaknesses.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

In all search engines, the order in which your page shows up in a search query is dependent on the popularity of your site across the internet. If your site traffic is low, the longer it will take for search engines to recognize your content and pull it to the top of search results. exist. The more visitors that land on your site, the more authority your domain is given in most search engine’s algorithms. Paying a bit more money to send people to your site will only help your organic page rank better over time.

Make Your Budget More Efficient

If it can be avoided, don’t devote a large portion of your marketing budget toward a long-term PPC campaign because working to optimize your site can drastically improve the efficiency of your current campaigns and over time can help to reduce the number total of campaigns that you need to run.

Paid search ad placement and in turn, success, is based on something called your quality score. A major aspect of this score is attributed to the content present on the page that your ads are directing people to. As you are optimizing your site to improve its organic rankings, your quality score will see a positive impact.

As time goes on, your organic ranking for branded and generalized keywords will improve. This enables you to cut back spending in order to reach the audiences searching for those words. Either way you swing it, organically optimizing your site to rank better will put some of those marketing dollars back into your pocket!

Both SEO and PPC are robust tactics to incorporate into your marketing plan on their own, but the way they work to make each other more effective is unmatched. Trust us, it’s better if you don’t try to separate these tactics. They are simply better together.

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