Dec 21

Using PPC data to inform SEO

Traditionally, SEO and PPC have been seen as very separate entities – rivals competing a bigger slice of the digital marketing budget in any given organisation. Your company’s organic search specialists will argue that SEO is a long-term strategy with better value for money and lasting effects that make a difference for your business. But those interested in paid search will counter: PPC is immediate, and it always gets results.

Of course, they are both right: SEO and PPC can each be effective strategies and can often work harmoniously for a holistic approach to digital marketing. But it is perhaps not recognised often enough that aside from working together – there is actually much that SEOs can learn from PPC practice and data.

Lack of communication between SEO and PPC specialists can be a hinderance to the success of a business. So, in this blog we will take a look at how your SEO department can utilise PPC data and insights effectively.

Learn faster than SEO

As has been mentioned, PPC is typically seen as a ‘faster’ form of digital marketing. This is due to the fact that while the SEO work you do on a website can take months before you see a significant improvement in your rankings (and therefore, traffic and sales), PPC ads can bring in customers in minutes.

Clearly, then, there is an opportunity for SEOs to learn where they need to target their next campaign. For example, if your business is moving into a new product area, using PPC ads can tell you very quickly the kinds of products and pages that work successfully. Test product pages individually to see which ones perform the best. Long-term SEO can then be planned around these pages, as there may be more potential for conversions in them.

Understanding the metrics

PPC data can provide you with an absolute gold mine of useful information on how pages perform. Click through rate and conversion rate are two vital metrics that can be extremely easily tracked through a PPC campaign – you can take many insights from the campaign.

Look for pages with a high click-through rate but a low conversion rate. It may be the case that the advert here is misleading, so when visitors click through, they don’t find what they are looking for. Alternatively, it may be the case that the advert piqued the interest of the visitor, but the page failed to live up to expectations. These can offer great opportunities to improve these pages.

Check how your high click-through/low conversion pages fair through organic traffic – if the conversion rate is low here then the problem is clearly with the page. Low quality pages can be a big problem for long-term SEO – and simply by comparing the PPC data with organic data you can learn whether a page is a problem, or if the issue is elsewhere.

Useful reports

It was once easy to understand which search terms were generating the most revenue for your business. However, updates to Google Analytics made it far more challenge to access this data in a meaningful and useful way. It has become necessary for SEOs to effectively take an educated guess in order to establish the best converting keywords for their site.

However, if you are also running a PPC campaign then there is no need to guess. A PPC specialist will be able to easily obtain a search term report for your account that will include a full range of useful metrics including, impressions, CTR and, yes, conversion rate!

You can then take this useful data and understand which terms are the most effective. This is just one example of PPCs sometimes having access to information that a pure SEO specialist might not realise is available.

Practical examples for how you can use PPC data to inform SEO

There are plenty of practical of examples of things that the SEO team can start doing immediately in order to benefit from PPC insights.

  1. Faster A/B testing – we have already mentioned that one of the major benefits of PPC over SEO is that it works faster. This gives you the opportunity to carry out any important A/B testing at a much faster rate than what would be possible for SEO. While SEO A/B tests might take weeks or even months to come up with preferred options, PPC campaigns can find out in days.
  2. Use best performing ad copy to inform meta titles and descriptions – it is also worth noting that when a particular PPC advert works well, it can be sensible to use this to inform meta titles and descriptions. If a PPC ad that mentions ‘award winning service’ and it is performing above better than other ads, then it is definitely worth using this phrasing in your meta description.
  3. Calls-to-action – getting your calls-to-action right can make a huge difference to the success of a site. PPC ads tend to use a much broader variety of CTAs than standard pages, so they are constantly testing their effectiveness. Take a look at which CTAs convert best, and then roll them out.

But… be aware of the pitfalls

Of course, there is the potential to be ‘false positives’ within PPC data that, when applied to the site generally as an organic search tactic, will not be effective. There can be many reasons for this – perhaps visitors coming to your site through CTA-heavy adverts are more primed to convert than a visitor casually searching on a term you rank well for.

The best advice then is to take ‘too good to be true’ data with a pinch of salt. What works for PPC often works for SEO but it is not always the case. You can use high performing PPC ads to inform content strategy, but be aware that organic search comes with its own challenges so it is always advisable to work with specialists.

If you would like to work with a digital agency with leading technical staff across both SEO and PPC, Artemis would love to hear from you.

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