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How to improve your website SEO using PPC

How to improve your website SEO using PPC

If you have been burned by Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising in the past, read on to understand how you can  improve your website SEO using PPC.


An all too common PPC story

You’ve probably heard this story before. A business owner or marketer receives a coupon through the mail from Google. They’re offering ‘free money’ to get started with AdWords. Our hero or heroine sets up their first campaign with no idea what they’re doing and leaves it running for a few weeks. One day they remember what they started, and check their campaign only to find an unpleasant surprise; they’ve spent a lot of money and don’t know what they received in return. “Never again”, they say.


Time to reconsider PPC?

As I written before, I’ve lost count of how many people I have spoken with who have experienced this ‘never again’ moment for themselves. So when I mention Pay Per Click advertising to new clients I often find they can be prejudiced against using PPC in favour of seemingly ‘free’ techniques such as social media. While I’m not criticizing social media marketing per se, it’s easy to forget your time isn’t free.

So how can PPC advertising help you with your SEO?


1. Research and test keywords

You’ve done some keyword research and found a bunch of phrases that you think your pages should be optimized for. The usual technique is to optimize your pages and wait, and wait, to see how they eventually rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Alternatively you could run a small PPC campaign with the same keywords. Ideally you should be testing to find which keywords (and the resulting search phrases) people use to generate the most purchases or conversions.

When it comes to PPC, impressions and clicks are vanity. Having said that it can be hard for service companies to measure conversions because of the nature of their business. In such a situation click-throughs combined with the page duration time shown in Google Analytics for visits originating from your PPC campaign may be enough.


Keywords and search phrases – what’s the difference?

Keywords are the words you use to target your campaign. Search phrases are the words people actually search for that trigger a match with your keywords.

Example (modified broad match keyword):

+online +accounting +software

Resulting search phrases:

best online accounting software
online accounting software reviews 2017
xero accounts software online tutorial


2. Research and test ad copy

Testing your ad headlines and copy can give you insights into what would work for your page title and meta description tag, as these are both also displayed in the search results. But bear in the end the following differences:

  • Google AdWords headlines are now two lines, to a maximum of 30 characters each. For testing purposes, this equates to the page title, which should be 55 characters or less.
  • Google AdWords description line is now a maximum of 80 characters. This equates to the meta description (160 characters or less).


3. Test landing pages

Google AdWords gives each keyword a quality score out of 10 based on a number of factors. One of these is how relevant the landing page is. Testing different keywords with different landing pages can help you to work out which landing page might perform best for which keyword. You can then SEO the page based on your ad testing.


4. Understand the potential value of your website SEO

Search engine optimization is a time consuming business. Anyone who tells you differently is either a liar or not doing it correctly. Understanding the value of any SEO efforts carried out on a website is important to both the business and any third party engaged to do the work. But sadly the work isn’t always appreciated. So, much like PR agencies using Equivalent Advertising Value (EAV) as a KPI, marketers and their agencies might consider communicating the value of SEO activity as EPPCAV (Equivalent Pay Per Click Advertising Value). Suddenly the true value of long-term SEO is more tangible, especially to the C-suite.

These four benefits are reason enough to try a short PPC campaign in preparation for longer term SEO activity. But the following two bonus reasons may just swing it for you.


PPC, SEO or both?

PPC and SEO are both forms of search engine marketing that complement each other. If you’re only using one of these tactics you’re probably leaving money on the table for your competitors.


PPC for startups

PPC is essential for startups as SEO takes time to build your content marketing and back linking efforts. Typically I would advise a startup to use PPC for at least the first 12 months while they build their organic search rankings. In any case, PPC must provide purchases or conversions AND a return of investment to justify its use at any time. Once you’re killing it with your SEO efforts it might make sense to reduce your PPC spend, especially if SEO is converting more cost effectively.


Website SEO & PPC Compared

Website SEO versus PPC (click to enlarge)


Final tip: how to handle PPC and SEO agencies

Finally, if you have different agencies managing your PPC and SEO channels, make sure they have a coordinated strategy and are aware what each other are doing, what’s working and what isn’t. Ideally working with an agency proficient in both PPC and SEO will make your life a lot easier.


Founder & CEO

Paul is Founder & CEO of 47 Insights. He has been helping software and publishing subscription companies with growth strategies since 1995.

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