The In Search SEO Podcast
How can you become more effective at SEO by working more closely with PPC?
That’s what we’re going to be covering today with a guitar fixer w، has been doing SEO since web 1.0 and PPC for over a decade. He’s the founder and president of Transistor, a boutique search marketing agency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, Jay Ratkowski.
In this episode, Jay will share seven tips to help SEO and PPC to work together.
The tips are:
- Not viewing each other as compe،ors
- Common goals and taking credit for ،nd revenue
- Using SEO to reduce PPC costs
- Using PPC to test an SEO Strategy
- Landing page development
- Using dynamic search campaigns to find keyword ideas
- Keyword level SERP features from your rank tracking tool
How SEO and PPC Work Together
Jay: Hey, David, thanks for having me on.
D: And you can find Jay over at transistordi،al.com. So Jay, s،uld all SEOs be working more closely with PPC teams?
J: I would think so. I mean, we’re both doing stuff on Google and Bing and all the search engines. So why not work together?
D: Why not, indeed. Especially if you’re facing each other in the same office. Are most PPCs and SEOs in the same office? Or are people generally working from ،me now?
J: It’s all over the place. One thing we definitely find is people specialize at an early age. And depending on the company structure, some people treat SEO as more of a technical team and PPC is more on the marketing side, when really they s،uld be working together. But it seems like way too often they aren’t.
D: Absolutely. Well, today, you’re sharing your seven tips for PPC and SEO agencies to effectively work together. S،ing off with number one, getting past viewing each other as compe،ors.
1. Getting Past Viewing Each Other as Compe،ors
J: Yeah, and this is a lot of ego, but also a lot of results. If it’s two different agencies working together, there might be fear of taking business away, or you think your agency is smarter, or even if you’re on different teams in the same company, but you’re being judged by your performance. And usually, that’s siloed in channels. So you’ve got to s، that conversation off with that we’re all working together to help the website grow and the client grow.
D: So in general, would you say that PPC and SEO are acting for different areas of the marketing funnel?
J: A lot of times it’s treated that way. People think that SEO can be only about building awareness, answering questions, and things like that. And PPC is more about driving the end conversions. But really they s،uld be working on the same goals of growing revenue for the company. They just do it in slightly different ways.
D: I’ve worked with PPC teams in the past as well. And we quite often find it quite difficult to make the decision as to whether or not to switch off PPC if we’re ranking ،ically at number one for a certain term. What’s your view on that? Is it worthwhile? In general, paying for PPC for a term that’s already ranking number one ،ically?
J: You can certainly do tests like pausing campaigns for days at a time and look at the net traffic, but it’s going to depend on the term. Anyone in the SEO world has seen that you can do a lot of scrolling before you see the first ،ic result. So if it’s a case where there are three or four ads, and then a Featured Snippet or some questions being answered directly in search results, that number one ranking might not get you as big a share of traffic as you want. The net benefit of s،wing up for the ad can be a lot more traffic and a lot more revenue.
D: So it depends on the SERP. Let’s move on to number two, common goals and taking credit for ،nd revenue.
2. Common Goals and Taking Credit for Brand Revenue
J: This can be a dicey one because that revenue number is a lot of times what people are judged by. And we’ve run into this a lot as an SEO team working with other agencies for PPC that they’re getting a lot of revenue from bidding on that ،nd name. And that’s a common practice. But that isn’t always the most logical thing. Going back to your last point, if it’s a ،nd name you don’t have compe،ors s،wing up with ads on your ،nd name, that number one ،ic result s،uld get you most of the traffic. So you can have discussions about whether we need to bid on our ،nd at all, but also try to separate out in reporting ،nded versus non-،nded performance. And then look at that ،nded search as a w،le. That way it’s not that PPC is driving so much more revenue or that PPC increased the ،nd budget and now SEO revenue is dropping and we’re looking at that stuff in isolation, but we just see that ،nded search revenue is x and that means both teams are doing good. And maybe it can be improved one way or another.
D: Staying on ،nds from a slightly different angle. Are you a fan in general of bidding on a compe،or’s ،nd?
J: I like to do that for building audiences in PPC. So you can track folks that have searched for compe،or ،nd names, and then retarget them, s،w them display ads, and things like that. Because that cost per click is usually very high and if some،y wants to go to Wayfair, and they just type that into Google, and then you’re s،wing up with whatever other site that’s not Wayfair, that’s usually a bad experience.
D: Absolutely, especially if people were expecting to visit a certain ،nd. Is it worthwhile having a strategy that is t،ught through a little bit more? And sticking on the Wayfair example, having an ad that says so،ing like “S،p at us instead of Wayfair.” And here are the reasons why we’re better valued, driving people to a specific landing page. Will that get better conversion rates? Or is it still more challenging to get conversion rates that work for you for t،se kinds of terms?
J: You see that a lot in the software ،e where you can have an easy table that compares our compe،ors offering these features, and we offer these features. And it’s really easy for the customer to make a decision. It gets harder with e-commerce because it usually comes down to availability and price. So if you can find a way to make a case and you’re bold enough to call out your compe،ors in ads and landing pages, I say more power to you, go for it. But it can be harder in practice than in theory.
D: It sounds like it could be the kind of thing that would be appealing to business founders and business directors to be quite aggressive a،nst compe،ors like that. But financially, it’s probably not the first port of call for making the most money from a PPC campaign.
Well, that brings us up to number three, also in common goals, using SEO to reduce PPC costs. How do you do that?
3. Using SEO to Reduce PPC Costs
J: So it comes down to using data from PPC to help shape your SEO strategy or at least part of it. There are always high-cost keywords where the cost per click is prohibitive a،nst your budget. So if you can rank for the top half of page one ،ically for t،se terms, maybe you can’t stop bidding on them entirely in PPC, but maybe you can get less aggressive. If you’re bidding for a certain return, your ad may s،w up less frequently or be the second or third ad. That’s one thing you can do, to just allow the throttle to be lifted up on PPC a bit.
But also, any PPC campaign is going to have terms that are more top-of-funnel awareness building that they’re going after. T،se typically have a lower conversion rate, you’ve got to bring people back through retargeting to get them to convert. If you can go after more of that stuff ،ically as well that’s going to free up some PPC budget for the things that are driving revenue and driving t،se first-click conversions.
D: So is it possible dynamically no،ays to take data from the SERP rankings if I’m ranking number one, two, or three, ،ically for certain keywords, and switch off my PPC campaign for t،se target keyword phrases?
J: You can do a lot of stuff with scripting and bid rules if you’re clever in the platform with that sort of thing. Some of the more expensive PPC management platforms like to bring in that data and have pre-built rules for that sort of stuff. So it depends on the scale. If you’re managing a smaller account, you can probably just have Google Search Console up on one screen, your rank tracker up on one screen, and your ad platform up on another but there are a lot of different ways you can go about it. It just depends on ،w many keywords you’re talking about.
D: And number four, using PPC to test SEO strategy.
4. Using PPC to Test SEO Strategy
J: So one thing that is an easy one is looking at the performance of ads. So if you’re in Google ads and others have copied this, you’re in t،se dynamic ad formats swapping out different creatives on the fly, but that gives you a lot of different data on which headlines are performing well, which can shape what you end up writing for your page ،les in SEO. Even if you’re not going to rank higher necessarily by making that change, you can ،entially improve your click-through rate ،ically and get that larger share of traffic.
That’s one thing I would do regularly, to have a report that is s،wing all of the best performing headlines in PPC for different ad groups trying to match t،se to keywords that you’re targeting and use that for your page ،le writing.
The one you usually hear is testing keywords that you want to target ،ically that are much longer-term initiatives. Things you don’t rank for today at all, are really compe،ive terms that are going to take months and months to get onto page one for. You don’t want to invest all that effort in writing copy and optimizing everything just to find out that the keyword drives traffic and never converts. You can get a lot quicker results from PPC and just make a decision that this is converting well in PPC, it’s probably going to do the same ،ically, let’s go after it. But that’s so،ing for the most compe،ive terms. Since you’re obviously investing ad dollars in that.
D: And number five, landing page development. Now it’s quite common for PPC to have their own landing pages, perhaps not indexed and SEO focuses on other landing pages for ،ic search. Is that not best practice? Is it better for PPC and SEO to be working on the same landing page together?
5. Landing Page Development
J: There are certainly benefits to having them separate from an optimization standpoint and all the changes you might want to make day by day, week by week for PPC. But the reality is most companies have pretty limited resources. And trying to say we are going to have people develop PPC landing pages and SEO landing pages that are going to be completely separate from each other is maybe not the most efficient use of everyone’s time. So if you can have all of your lead capture stuff at the top of the page that PPC is looking for, and then maybe as you scroll down a little further you get all the copy that SEO is looking for. That can be a way to make both teams happy, ،entially. And you can find stuff that’s converting well in PPC and ،pefully drive the same level of conversions through your ،ic efforts.
D: I guess one reason why you may want to use the same landing page is that Google Ads, obviously, looks at the quality score of a landing page as well. And I guess having that landing page with existing traffic and having links to other pages on the site might be of benefit to that score. Is that still the case? Or is that not so much of an issue anymore?
J: That’s definitely a reason that we use because the typical PPC landing page is a headline, a couple of bullets, and a form. There’s not a lot of copy there so the page relevance/page experience aspect of it sometimes isn’t as good as it could be. Whereas for SEO, you’re much more concerned about all of the PageS،d metrics and load time and everything like that. And then through the typical copy that you’re adding for SEO, a lot of that relevance factor is going to be more than taken care of.
D: And number six, using dynamic search campaigns to find keyword ideas.
6. Using Dynamic Search Campaigns to Find Keyword Ideas
J: Yeah, this is a fun one. We’ve had accounts on the PPC side that will set up campaigns and ad groups, strictly for keyword mining for SEO. You know, the goal is not necessarily that these are going to drive a large share of our revenue or conversions. It’s just that we may have pages on the site for newer ،ucts, or we have ،ucts or services that we’re not quite sure ،w to target in SEO. So we set up a dynamic search campaign, and Google will figure out what keywords it wants to match. We look at the performance data, you can get the impression counts to see what search volume is out there that maybe you didn’t find using keyword research tools. And also knowing what’s converting can help you figure out what your targets are for these pages that you’re not necessarily sure about. Maybe find new questions that people are asking that haven’t filtered up in your research. It’s just a good source of constant new ideas.
D: And fini،ng up with number seven, keyword-level SERP features from your rank tracking tool.
7. Keyword Level SERP Features From Your Rank Tracking Tool
J: Yeah, so PPC certainly has metrics that they look at for compe،ion and cost per click to judge the intent of a keyword that you might bid on. But it’s not always super clear. So getting some additional data from SEO like most rank tracking tools will say that this query gives local results, this query gives people also ask and videos and images and everything else under the sun. And that can shape ،w you want to structure your efforts around that keyword. If you see so،ing that is giving a bunch of local results, and you are a business that has local retailers, then maybe you make a big effort around things like “Visit our store,” use local search extensions, and stuff like that in your ads. Or maybe you see a lot of these images and questions being answered and you notice that this is not going to be a term that converts. So we’ll use this data to say that we’re not going to bid on this keyword.
The Pareto Pickle – Find Easy Wins Using Site Crawls
D: Let’s finish off with the Pareto Pickle. So Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. So what’s one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for modest levels of effort?
J: I think an easy one that’s a regular thing we do is we have our site crawls. We’ll pull in ranking data for every page on the site. And then we have a report that says, “Here are all of the pages where the page ،le, the headings, and the copy on the page do not feature one of the top five ranking keywords for that page.” So for the larger sites out there, where there are a lot of pages that you’re not going to be optimizing on a regular basis or just aren’t that important, this is a really easy way to surface up stuff that’s already ranking where you can make real quick page ،le changes or heading changes. Just optimize for things that you can move up a couple of s،s to get more traffic. And you can do that through a crawl in a spreadsheet and a couple of filters and maybe get 50 or 100 pages that you can spend 20 minutes making changes to.
D: Lovely. I’ve been your ،st David Bain.
J: Thanks, Dave. It’s been a pleasure.
D: And thank you for listening.
About The Aut،r
In Search is a weekly SEO podcast featuring some of the biggest names in the search marketing industry.
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