SEO + PPC: Spring Clean Your Strategy

This month, I’d like to introduce the idea of SEO+ – by which I mean SEO plus another discipline – the types of synergies that are not only logical, but now critical to success. My first one is SEO + PPC: think about using spring to refresh your resolve to find the synergy between your SEO (define) and PPC (define) strategies. Some things to consider while spring blossoms around us (or at least the snow is melting in New York):

  1. Spring forward with that “other” search data

    What are your top-spending PPC keywords? High traffic and high cost paid terms are excellent targets for increased SEO efforts such as targeted content creation, linking structure improvements, and keyword optimization. Improving your performance in organic search can let you shift PPC budgets to areas where your organic performance is weaker. While you’re looking at this data, look for keywords that perform in PPC but don’t drive organic search traffic: these are other great candidates for developing new site content.

  2. Eliminate duplicate work

    With larger teams, guard against fragmented work leading to inefficiency. What keyword research tools are utilized by your SEO team? How many are used by your PPC team? Do they overlap? Are multiple internal resources paying for the same services? Do both teams even know about all of the tools the other team is using? Take steps to make sure the teams’ research investments are paying off for all of your search efforts. Can you eliminate duplicate work? Are both teams building new keyword lists, examining your on-site search data, or classifying keywords into clusters for high-level analysis? Try to centralize these functions.

  3. Increase overall click-through rate (CTR)

    When people hear “PPC/SEO synergy” they think that means turning off PPC keywords that perform well just because you have an organic link ranking. But sometimes it makes sense to aim for top positions in both paid and organic listings. In other cases, it may be more efficient to be present in paid, but not at the top. However, by increasing CTRs (define) you can improve your Quality Scores, lower CPCs (define), and raise conversions and brand awareness. For terms which rank for both PPC and SEO, you may also want to compare post-click data to determine which perform better. Refine your PPC messaging to reach users who may not respond to SEO listings.

  4. Maximize your PPC budget

    When analyzing PPC and SEO data together, I like to classify keywords as “overspending” or “underspending” terms. Expensive, non-branded “head” terms can eat up much of your PPC budget because they drive so much traffic. For these kinds of words, it may make sense to shift focus to SEO and let your PPC campaigns target longer-tail terms. I don’t mean stop bidding, but rather test out the positions below number one. At the same time, see what’s bringing in organic traffic that you’re not spending much on in paid search (or aren’t bidding on at all); these are prime places to more efficiently spend all that PPC budget you’re going to save from reducing your exposure to inefficient and expensive keywords.

  5. Synchronize your messages

    We spend a lot of time trying to improve our PPC ad copy and landing pages, but sometimes fail to use what we learn across the rest of our Web site. Just because you’re not running multivariate testing on a page doesn’t mean it’s not a landing page. Ask yourself: when visitors come into my site via organic links, are we providing them with clear paths to conversion, a solid value proposition, and enticements to stay on the site? Take a look at which ad messages, landing page experiences, and special offers delivered the best PPC performance, and then see if you can’t apply that to the organic entry pages. SEO is great at driving traffic to deep areas of your site – make sure those pages are optimized.

With the weather warming up, it can be nice to get out of our cubicles and head outside. Come and see me speak at SES in New York on SEO and other enterprise search topics. On your way, take a minute to stop by the “other” search teams’ desks…you are bound to find ways to improve everyone’s results.

Meet Crispin Sheridan at SES New York, March 22-26, 2010 at the Hilton New York. SES and ClickZ are part of Incisive Media.

Related reading

Google home page