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Search Engine Optimization – a PPC Point of View

Search Engine Optimization – Random Thoughts From a PPC Professional Point Of View!
If a person had asked me a few years ago whether SEO is complimentary to paid search or asked a SEO professional whether a person must even do PPC (Pay Per Click aka SEM aka Search Engine Marketing), I am sure both of us would not have given a positive opinion of the other.

Search Engine Optimization – Random Thoughts From a PPC Professional Point Of View!
If a person had asked me a few years ago whether SEO is complimentary to paid search or asked a SEO professional whether a person must even do PPC (Pay Per Click aka SEM aka Search Engine Marketing), I am sure both of us would not have given a positive opinion of the other.

One reason for this could have been that SEO is the grandfather of search and it is nearly as old as the search engines themselves, while PPC is only less than six years old. Many SEO professionals detested search engines for introducing paid search and firmly believed that it was a temporary phenomenon – if the SEO firms would have truly supported paid search from the beginning, specialist paid-search companies such as Communicate 2 would have found it difficult to prosper. In hindsight, I am truly grateful they didn’t and both of us got an opportunity to create our own niches.

The other reason could be that SEO and PPC is generally handled by two different departments of the marketer – PPC by the marketing department, SEO by the IT department. Thus, generally there is little collaboration between the two; both working in their own compartments, each thinking that it is the other’s job.

Today, however, I firmly believe that SEO is complementary to paid search rather than being competitive. In fact, PPC and SEO companies can work together to compliment each other’s services quite effectively. (the ‘Andar Ki Baat’ reason also is that now Communicate 2 has become a part of Isobar that owns one of the best SEO companies in the world, I-prospect and our agreement compels me to say positive things about SEO *Smile*)

Below are many ways in which SEO and PPC can collaborate and create a synergistic strategy that will result in most effective results for the client. Furthermore, there are some areas when either SEO or PPC is more effective, best thing to do is evaluate the purpose, then either use one of them or both of them in a way that they complement each other.

Identifying Keywords through PPC: When one designs an SEO strategy, it would be good to know which keywords drive most traffic, give most conversions, which are most expensive, and so on. I am sure that an SEO professional will understand this – paid search can give all this information at a flick of a button. If a person uses this information to design an SEO strategy, the SEO strategy would be very effective. Example, keywords that are expensive and give good traffic plus conversion must be given priority treatment by an SEO company. Cheaper keywords that although give good traffic and conversions could be given second priority.

Identifying conversion keywords through SEO: We have seen keywords that are on the 25th position on SEO and still give conversions to the client. A simple step of increasing the bid for those keywords, and getting them on position one for PPC has resulted in increasing conversions exponentially. We have many clients whose entire analytics is handled by Communicate 2; getting a higher listing for these long-tail keywords through SEO would not be difficult, but it would have also taken a lot of time. However, increasing bids on the PPC campaigns allowed us to increase the conversions almost immediately.

Identifying expensive conversion oriented keywords through PPC: Similarly, there are many keywords that are expensive keywords in PPC, as they form a part of the broad match direct keyword. It is quite easy to optimise these keywords through SEO and get a good position. A person is not only able to generate traffic but also do it for free. Example – a keyword such as ‘Personal Loan Mumbai’ hardly triggers any of the tops banks in the top five listings, the natural results show sites such as Sulekha, JustDial, and so on. Building a page on the top bank sites with content covering these long-tail conversion-oriented keywords such as above could be useful strategy as these keywords are nearly as expensive as the primary keywords.

Identifying ad copy that works on SEO: CTR can play a big role in an SEO process. It not only plays a role in the SEO process but it is also important from ROI point of view. What is the use of being on top five in Google, if the CTR is low. PPC allows one to test various ad copies without worrying about losing one’s ranking, once the ad copies that deliver maximum CTR are identified, the same can be used to for creating the title and description tags. I guess not many SEO companies would like to touch the ad copy of their page once they have achieved number two listing on Google.

Understanding the customer through PPC, and then using the info for SEO: PPC allows one to understand what customers call the product of the company, example I know of a company that used to call their customer service centres as ‘customer response centres.’ So when someone would search for ‘company brand’ service centres, the result would be a negative blog site. Once we know what customers are looking for, executing SEO for the same becomes easy. Sometimes a simple keyword change from ‘quick loan’ to ‘fast loan’ can make all the difference.

Using PPC for performing a litmus test: There are many times when a company wants to introduce a new product and see if there is a demand for the same. In such a scenario SEO would take months before it starts showing results while PPC is a very effective starting promotion of a new product. It gives you an idea of how successful the product could be and thereafter the products that deliver results can be complimented with a SEO strategy.

Optimising Landing Pages: It takes months to get a good ranking on SEO. If a person does not have a page that converts into a sale/conversion, months of efforts will go waste. All the more, changing landing pages’ content once they start getting a number one ranking on SEO can be disastrous. PPC is a good way to test your landing pages. Once a person has tested the landing pages through A/B and Multi-variate testing and identified which pages are creating the most conversions, executing SEO for those pages would deliver great results.

I can give many other ways on how SEO and PPC can complement each other. It is important, however, that companies understand that SEO and PPC is not an either/or strategy. Both are synergistic to each other and if used in a way that they complement each other they can deliver great ROI.

So the next time, if any of you –from SEO or paid search – debate over which is better, please remember this note of mine and smile and shake hands as I believe that the end result of any debate should not be winning, but human progress. And blending together of SEO and paid search does just that!

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