Spotlight

6 Actionable Ways to Use PPC and SEO Data to Improve Overall Results and Focus

SEO is better! No, PPC is better!

Yes, for many years there has been the debate around SEO (search engine optimization) vs. PPC (pay per click – or paid search) and why you should focus on one over the other.

But some of the best campaigns don’t pit the two against each another. The sum of PPC and SEO is stronger than just its parts—and can activate your brand to reach and engage more consumers. Instead of fighting, why not discuss how we can use the respective data from both to improve overall campaign performance? Let’s focus resources on the areas that will have the biggest impact for both.

Interesting … Where Do You Start?

So how do you decide where to focus efforts? One of the easiest ways to start is to create a dashboard that combines the various data points.

Example dashboard:

example dashboard 6 Actionable Ways to Use PPC and SEO Data to Improve Overall Results and Focus

Paid metrics could include:

  • Paid Impressions
  • Paid CTR
  • Paid Conversions (whatever you track to measure quality)

Organic metrics could include:

  • SEO Sessions
  • SEO Conversion % (whatever you track to measure quality)

Search engine data includes:

  • Google Volume (Average monthly “Exact Match” from the Adwords Tool)
  • Your Current Keyword/Keyword Phrase Rank
  • Your Ranking URL

Now that you have your dashboard … here is how you maximize performance.

Use SEO Data to Maximize PPC Performance and Decrease Costs

1.   Refine Match Types

Use your SEO data and match by keyword to your paid search data. Identify which paid search keywords are on “Broad Match” (typically more expensive) and review SEO performance (from your dashboard). Based on the SEO performance, identify areas where you could refine the match type to phrase or exact without hurting campaign goals. By refining match types you can bring the media cost down and potentially invest back into the campaign.

NOTE: If you have 1,000+ terms, you may want to put a limit on where you stop evaluating based on work/benefit.

2.   Uncover New Keywords

Comparing the list of referring keywords from organic search to what you are currently managing in paid search, you can uncover new keywords that are performing well in organic search that you are currently not using in your PPC campaign. The same is true for site search where you can uncover new terms to target in your paid search efforts based on what people are telling you they “want” while searching on your site.

3.   Limit Cannibalization

Clients and companies sometimes debate the value of running a paid search campaign that includes keywords where they already rank well for organic search. I like to let the data do the talking rather than debate the theory so set up a head-to-head test to measure impact.

Use PPC Data to Prioritize Keywords for SEO   

4.   Content Gap Analysis

Use PPC data, sorting by top KPI performers, matched by keyword against your targeted SEO keywords (e.g. match “baby formula powder” performance data from your PPC campaign to “baby formula powder” from organic search). This will help you focus resources on keyword/keyword phrases that either rank poorly in organic search or don’t rank at all so that you can optimize existing content or develop new content. Remember: this is based off revenue numbers to help evaluate the opportunity rather than just traffic estimates.

NOTE: If you have 1,000+ terms, you may want to put a limit on where you stop evaluating based on work/benefit.

5.   Estimate Demand for Keyword Targets

Search-volume-estimate tools are good, but they are not always accurate. Using your paid search data combined with your SOV (share of voice) you can get an idea for the potential traffic of a top ranking based on impression level data.

6.   Identify Top Converting Paid Keywords with Low/No SEO Visibility

This is an excellent way to focus resources on potential content development or keyword targets to optimize based on visibility tied to performance data from your paid search campaign.

NOTE: Ask yourself “what does the competitive landscape look like?”

  • This is important because even if your paid search performance is strong, the space may be too competitive for you to impact soon, if ever. If you want to be on Page 1, that means someone has to be knocked off. You need to evaluate how much effort that will take.

Use your top paid search keywords, sorted by important KPIs and traffic volume. Then create a chart that lays out the target keyword phrases based on high/low competition and revenue opportunities.

Example chart:

example chart 6 Actionable Ways to Use PPC and SEO Data to Improve Overall Results and Focus

Using the paid search data to get to this place gives you the advantage beyond using a keyword research tool because you have the actual revenue numbers associated with the keyword phrases – not just traffic.

It is always good to tackle the “low-hanging fruit.”Creating or optimizing content that has low competition with high revenue potential is a smart start to your SEO efforts.

Conclusion

The reality is that SEO and PPC truly compliment each other. A combined strategy will reach more consumers, and make your brand a bigger part of the search conversation. SEO and PPC shouldn’t fight each other, so lay out a plan and a report to analyze the data. Let’s celebrate our strengths to increase overall impact.

Everybody wins.

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Melanie Mitchell is the current SVP of Search Strategy at Digitas. She is responsible for managing the Digitas Search Engine Marketing Knowledge Center (SEO/SEM/SMO) that ensures industry trends, new strategies and tactics, and best practices are continuously shared, enabling Digitas to stay on the forefront of this ever-evolving industry for the agency and their clients. She is a speaker at Pubcon, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Search Engine Strategies (SES), AdTech, BlueGlass, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and other noted roundtables as Business Wire and the National Women’s Business Center.

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