Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising are two of the most popular strategies for promoting an online business in the modern world. Each strategy has a unique set of pros and cons, but they’re both highly effective (and cost-efficient) for driving traffic to a target website.
It’s true that SEO and PPC are totally different strategy; contrary to a popular misconception, PPC ads can’t increase your business’s organic rankings in search engines and better SEO results won’t have a direct impact on your PPC placement. However, SEO and PPC are much more complementary than most marketers believe – and if you leverage them together in the right way, you can end up seeing better results in both areas.
Why SEO and PPC Are Complementary
Let’s start by explaining some of the ways that SEO and PPC can complement each other:
- Shared skills and motivations. For starters, even though they have different goals and, in some ways, serve different audiences, SEO and PPC demand a similar set of skills. In each strategy, you’ll need to work hard to research your target audience and your main competitors. You’ll need to research various keywords and phrases to see what the best targets are. You’ll need to experiment with different types of content and placements to see how they impact your results. Accordingly, it’s relatively easy for a professional in one area to learn the other – or for two separate teams to work together for the common good.
- Short-term vs. long-term. SEO is highly cost-efficient and can see some incredible results – but it takes time to get there. Companies often spend months, or even years, investing in an SEO strategy before it truly starts paying off. By contrast, you can start seeing results with a PPC campaign immediately, though it doesn’t offer the same long-term growth trajectory that SEO does.
- Guarantees vs. uncertainty. If you follow best practices consistently and invest enough time and resources, you should see good results from your SEO campaign, but there isn’t a guarantee. This makes PPC a perfect complement, since by its very nature, it guarantees results; you’ll only pay for the traffic you actually generate.
Key Strategies for Using SEO and PPC Together
If you want to make the most of both your SEO and PPC campaigns, there are some important strategies to follow:
- Work together within the same team. Some companies completely segment SEO and PPC as if they were two totally separate departments competing with each other. Instead, it’s better if you have your SEO and PPC experts working together in the same broader team – or even cross-training your team members on the strategy they’re less familiar with. Doing so can lead to better brainstorming, more creative ideas, and more comprehensive work.
- Shift from PPC to SEO. For a given page, or even a given website, it’s advisable to start with a PPC campaign and gradually shift your resources to SEO over time. As you start optimizing a page for search engines, you’ll suffer from a noticeable lack of traffic – which PPC ads can easily overcome. Over time, your SEO results will begin to grow stronger, giving you a reliable and steady traffic stream that’s also cost-effective; you can still use PPC ads, but you can taper down your budget.
- Coordinate to maximize SERP coverage. With the power of both PPC ads and SEO on your side, you’ll have the possibility to maximize your SERP coverage. Make a list of your most valuable keywords based on relevance and traffic volume, and pay attention to how much competition is present for each. Get the low-hanging fruit with SEO and close the gap for highly competitive terms with PPC ads.
- Experiment and share the data. Make sure each of your teams is constantly experimenting – and sharing the data with the other team. Both PPC and SEO strategies require you to learn more about your target demographics, study keywords, and write copy. SEO and PPC professionals can therefore learn a lot from each other (and save time and effort in the process).
- Always keep an eye on ROI. In marketing, everything boils down to your ROI, or return on investment, so make sure you’re watching this metric carefully. Don’t be afraid to reallocate your budget if and when your ROI in one area begins to drop – and keep optimizing your strategies to be more efficient over time.
If you’ve been thinking about SEO and PPC as completely siloed strategies, or if you’ve exclusively invested in one over the other, now is the perfect opportunity to revisit your approach and make some changes.
A few tweaks to your investments, and a change in your overall direction, could easily help you see a higher ROI.