How PPC Benefits SEO

Running pay-per-click (PPC) ads and optimizing for organic search with search engine optimization (SEO) at the same time produces more clickthrough and revenue than practicing either individually. The effect is akin to a 1+1=3 equation, where the sum of the parts is greater than what you would expect to earn simply by adding together the performance of the two individually.

Given a choice, businesses would much rather win unpaid, organic traffic than pay for search advertising. But if you want to maximize your clickthrough and revenue, there’s really not a choice to be made. You need both.

Yes, PPC ads cannibalize organic search results to a degree, resulting in payment for some clicks that would have been earned organically. But the net number of clicks is greater than organic can produce on its own. 

Seeing Double

Ads have more visibility on the search engine results page (SERP). When a searcher sees a PPC ad, scans down the SERP, and then sees an organic listing, it makes that organic listing feel more familiar. 

Some searchers still assume that the SERP placement represents an endorsement from that search engine. Seeing both a paid listing and an organic one can be construed by those searchers as a double endorsement, increasing the likelihood of clickthrough.

Keyword Performance Data

SEO gets the short end of the stick when it comes to financial data. Google’s and Microsoft’s ad platforms provide a wealth of data about the performance of keywords that organic search just doesn’t have. 

When all of the major search engines moved to secure search some years ago, the link between keyword data and conversion data was severed, ostensibly to protect searchers’ privacy. As a result, the data in the various toolsets available to us can show us neither which organic keywords result in leads or sales, nor how much revenue those keywords drive. 

We can, however, use PPC performance data as a proxy for SEO keyword performance. It’s certainly not apples to apples, but it can be directionally significant. For example, if a keyword converts to a sale frequently in PPC, it’s reasonable to presume that the same keyword would also convert well in organic search.

Testing Keywords & Messages

Optimization is all about testing and improving. However, organic search performance takes more time to come to fruition than paid search, making testing cumbersome. PPC, on the other hand, gets quick results. You can test new keyword sets and messaging in paid campaigns before applying the results to your organic search program. Strong performance in PPC doesn’t guarantee organic results since there are so many differences in how paid and organic listings are ranked. Still, once again, the data can be directionally significant.

Ranking for Difficult Keywords

In organic search, you can only rank for keywords directly relevant to the content on your site. Sometimes it’s just not possible to rank well organically for the keywords you want to win, especially when they’re broader than the content you have on your site. For example, if you only sell stuffed animals but want to rank well for the keyword “toys,” it will most likely be difficult. Depending on your budget, you may be able to pay for placement on those keywords that organic will have a hard time winning.

Get more bang for your digital marketing buck by layering SEO and PPC together. Combining forces gives your business the best chance to stand out from competitors and generate more revenue.

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