By Benjamin Johnson, SEO/SEM Specialist
We often hear that SEO (search engine optimization) is a marathon and PPC (pay-per-click) is a sprint. It is time to change this perspective and realize that marketing is a triathlon. Each part of the marketing race is unique and requires varying tactics.
What is the difference between SEO and PPC? At the core, SEO is about optimizing content to rank better in Google and provide a better user experience. The higher your content ranks, the more likely users are to click. PPC, on the other hand, is all about driving traffic quickly to the desired page by writing compelling ad copy. Earning a top spot in Google for SEO or PPC requires time and effort. A key difference between the two disciplines is that a click on an organic listing is free, whereas PPC clicks cost money. When these two tactics collaborate, companies see better results, SERPs are dominated, and ROI is increased.
How do PPC and SEO work together? Here are five ways to combine SEO and PPC strategies:
1) Dominate the SERPs
SERPs (search engine results pages) are a combination of paid ads and organic results. Organic traffic and paid search account for 80% of all website traffic (53% organic, 27% paid search1). With 1.2 trillion Google searches2 performed each year, it is vital that you integrate both paid search and organic strategies into your marketing plan.
The first result in Google earns ~32% of all clicks3. When you optimize for both strategies, your website can rank in the first position for both organic and paid listings. Your site has double the chance of earning a click and this leads to a monopolized SERP.
This is why optimizing for both inbound marketing strategies is so powerful. You can give users two opportunities to click on your site before they even consider an alternative site.
2) Keyword Data and Research
Both SEO and PPC require a large amount of data to make the necessary optimizations and A/B test. When you utilize both strategies, you can share data between the channels. PPC offers a great playground to evaluate keywords quickly and see how they perform in ad copy with your specific audience. Next, you can take the best performing keywords and add them into your organic content for long term success.
Likewise, you can use your SEO data to start new paid campaigns with confidence. Through SEO you can see what queries and keywords searchers are using to find your site. Then you can write ad copy in a similar language and attract more attention.
3) Tool Sharing
Common SEO tools include SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz. Paid search relies heavily on Google’s Keyword Planner. Combining these tools provides more data and better insights for both strategies.
Google Search Console is a great tool to utilize for both disciplines. You can see how users are searching for your content and then write ad copy and organic content accordingly. SEMrush also has tools and data for both PPC and SEO tactics.
As mentioned earlier, 53% of all website traffic is organic and 27% is from paid search. So, SEO is better than PPC? Not so fast. When a user visits your site, they may become a conversion by buying or clicking on the desired action. However, if they do not, SEO does a poor job of bringing those users back to your site. They may disappear forever or find a competitors site more compelling.
Here is where PPC shines brightest. Paid search enables marketers to retarget audiences that have already visited a site. This strategy has a much higher CTR (click-through rate) than normal PPC ads. So, you can prompt those users to come back to your site because you already know they are interested in your content.
5) Save Money
If PPC competitors are not bidding on your keyword and you already own the top position organically, why spend money on a click you were going to earn for free? This is another reason harnessing both marketing strategies is so effective. You can save money by only bidding on keywords that have competition and where your content is not ranking in the top position organically. The money you save from this strategy can be reused to target competitor keywords and steal some of their traffic.
Which is better, SEO or PPC? Each discipline offers unique benefits and challenges. The best strategy is always to own as much SERP real estate as possible. If you can control either a top paid ad spot and/or the first organic listing, you will have an exceedingly high probability of earning a click for that query.
Always pursue a holistic marketing strategy and don’t forget about social media marketing, display ads, and video marketing. Find the channel that enables you to speak to your target audience in the right language, at the right location, and at the right time.