Sometimes PPC and SEO can become disjointed. Over a series of blog posts we will be sharing our wisdom on these two key digital marketing disciplines which attract online business. We’ll be offering lots of invaluable advice from our Head of SEO, Tom Crewe and Head of Paid Search, David Berendt.
The first steps for successful Search Engine Optimisation
Step one for SEO is about following the search trends, monitoring how users are searching, and tracking how that changes over time within your industry.
This is more relevant than ever following a particularly challenging 15 months, and also with a significant Google page algorithm on the horizon (Core Web Vitals).
For example, it's very interesting to look at the holiday market at the moment, especially because the industry has seen a huge shift in search trends due to the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, we've seen foreign travel searches decrease, and UK staycations increasing. Tracking the trends has meant that we’ve been able to make educated decisions about where to focus our SEO resources for our travel and tourism clients.
We start with top line search trends; for example, country of search, and then delve deeper into the detail to understand popular search destinations within that country. Then we build a picture of the audience who are ‘ready to purchase’ and focus on those terms, making sure we’re including them in our keyword copy. If we see high search demand, we schedule time to increase the intensity of ratio campaigns.
SEO generally takes longer than PPC to see results and is a longer term strategy. We need to lay the foundations, but not expect instant results.
The next step is to ensure that you’ve got the best possible website structure, and architecture on every page to generate the maximum amount of traffic possible.
Site structure is essential because it makes it easier for potential purchasers (and Google) to find this page, and also for Google to understand the relationships between the different pages
Next is to delve even further and investigate niche search terms. By looking at more long tail queries, we can target users that are ready to purchase. For example, if they're looking for ‘dog friendly holidays in Saint Ives’, that's a very specific search and an indicator that they are even more ready to make a purchase.
In SEO, we would conclude that we should look at building landing pages connected to the ‘Holidays and St Ives’ page’. These will in turn boost the rankings of that page, as well as the niche longtail pages.
SEO entails moving away from purely focusing on the commercial landing page, and looking at content marketing efforts during a predicted build up to higher search demand. If our research has indicated that St. Ives is going to be a ‘hot topic’ in 2-3 months time, then we would advise and ensure that the architecture is in place before we focus on writing relevant keyword content.
We can help to improve your business’s online visibility, increase organic traffic to your site and get you ranking for the keywords that matter
How PPC works in parallel with SEO to maximise results
Step one as an agency is to ensure that we have a detailed understanding of who to target, and when to implement different tactics and strategies.
Looking back at the travel industry example for SEO, there's very little benefit in spending your PPC budget promoting an educational piece trying to raise awareness once you’ve reached peak booking season. At this point your audience has already made their decisions about what they’re going to book.
A few reminders about PPC activity:
- Early planning will always be helpful to make sure you’re spending your budget in the most effective areas
- PPC can react more quickly in our ever changing landscape, working alongside the longer term strategies of your SEO content
- By working with an SEO expert, together you can follow the trends and be proactive when search changes happen unexpectedly. PPC can maximise its effectiveness by gleaning information from the SEO team
Step two - alongside SEO, use Google as a tool to educate your audience
By using Google effectively, you can research the landscape and find how to expand target volume within your desired audience
Back to our travel marketing example:
There's very little point in focusing time, budget or resource on immediate hard sell PPC holiday based strategies in the current ever changing climate.
If your audience isn’t aware of you, if they already have another brand in mind, or another location, a hard sell isn't going to bring in the bookings. This is the time to consider deploying automation...
Automated bid strategies
Automated bid strategies in PPC work in certain scenarios to ‘turn on’ business if you have a specialist on hand to apply a certain logic to them and trigger them effectively.
There are different bid strategies based on different objectives, make sure you speak to a specialist to help apply the most effective conversions and campaigns
Step three is to consolidate the PPC plan with the SEO strategy
- Look at the account structure and make sure that it's scalable
- Create a PPC account structure which allows growth in a similar way to SEO and site architecture (This doesn't just help Google, but it also helps you understand the data that you’re receiving)
- Constant data analysis is essential. For example, if we see that display ads aren’t converting and this is the objective, then don’t continue to focus on the display strategy once you’ve tested different variants in your ads
- DSA (Dynamic Search Ads) can be really effective in attracting interest. But, they do need to be tracked, and the most successful campaigns occur when coupled with optimised site architecture and in line with the SEO strategy
So when looking at bid strategies:
- If your objective is awareness, focus on the target impression share, watch the viewable impressions and traffic, and maximising clicks
- Enhancing CPC can prove to be useful, and we have found that maximizing clicks tends to deliver better results from generated traffic conversions
- You'll see superior results if you have multiple conversions as well as targeting your different conversions
Making PPC campaign decisions
Our advice always starts with setting your actionable goals, e.g. time spent on site. You can then use them as a conversion base for a campaign.
If you want to start educating potential customers, your strategy could be to investigate low cost impressions.
This should lead to awareness building and then starting to increase your traffic.
You can also increase your search volume by building up your remarketing audience which will help your conversion efficiency.
Key takeaways to help SEO & PPC work together in harmony
Of course different industries require alternative structures when planning your digital marketing activity.
For example, for travel marketing, it might be that the peak months for search are not necessarily the peak month for conversions when customers are booking.
By working with a specialist SEO & PPC team, they can help you to apply an educated logic in a scalable way, based on how your industry works.
As you build your digital marketing campaigns, look at the foundations of your SEO strategy first. Make sure you’ve analysed the potential future increase in search and considered niche long tail queries which are the low hanging fruits for more rapid results.
And from a PPC perspective, boost your campaigns when there is high search demand. Keep tracking your data and where there is sufficient intent, really push the more aggressive strategies to hone in on those conversions.
Important things to remember are:
- Be agile, especially when your tracking is showing more fluid or dynamic activity
- Be proactive and try to forward plan as much as you can to be ahead of the booking curve
- If you have a structured and scalable strategy, this will really make a difference to being able to action things quickly, and therefore maximising your results