Because SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (“pay-per-click” advertising) are such different endeavors and often require relying on different tools, different platforms, and different professionals to get them done, people think of them as entirely separate. Hence the “PPC vs. SEO” mindset that hobbles so many businesses (discussed in our previous post).
Yes, these are very different beasts–but they’re symbiotic ones, helping each other thrive in the highly competitive wilds of the internet.
PPC and SEO strategies can interlock, support, and amplify each other in several key ways. Wisely investing in a little of each is much better than dumping a ton of money into one or the other.
The Four Key PPC-SEO Synergies
There are four ways that you can use SEO and PPC to support each other:
- Market Research
First and foremost, research shows that there is a “validation effect” with PPC and SEO. People searching for solutions online view businesses more favorably when they see them represented among both the paid ads at the top of the page and the “organic” search results lower on the page. When visitors see your business listed in the “organic” search results, that gives you an air of authority–you must know your stuff, or else the search engine wouldn’t rate you highly. But someone can be an authority, and still be lousing at running a business that solves problems. When a potential customer sees your business running paid ads, that communicates legitimacy: you are running a real business, not just spouting off online. The two of these taken together communicate exactly what you want to tell a potential client:
I know what I’m doing, and I can deliver real products/services.
This “validation effect” is further amplified by the “availability heuristic“–which has to do with how the brain processes information. In short, the more something is repeated, the easier it is to recall, and thus the more important it seems to your brain. Occupying more space on the page–i.e., appearing among both the paid listings and organic search results–makes your business more “available” in the minds of readers. As they consider their options, the simple availability of your business and promise will cause them to naturally gravitate in your direction.
It’s a simple practical reality: If you pour the time and energy into dominating the organic search results for your most valuable keywords, a competitor is going to swoop in and buy the ads for those terms. No matter how good your SEO, someone can always buy the top slot on the search results page–because those slots are paid advertisements. If you don’t buy it, then sooner or later your competitor will. Yes, they’re paying for that traffic–but it’s still real traffic: Real people really visiting their website, learning from them, adopting their view of your industry, and sharing those links and ideas with others. This can easily lead to an increased search ranking for that competing site–thus chipping away at your hard-earned SEO wins.
Using SEO and PPC in tandem allows you to “lock-in” your SEO gains.
4. Market Research
Finally, PPC ad platforms catalogue incredibly powerful–and valuable–information about who looks at and clicks on your ads. This gives you an amazing opportunity to test search terms and language to see what resonates with your audience–and then use SEO to build those wins into your site’s core structure.
For example, a research lab supplier can run a series of different PPC ads to see what attracts their highest value customers. If you find that people who search for “cell lines” don’t ever convert, but people who search for “tumor models” do, then you know what you want to build more core content around cancer research, and optimize that content for the phrase “tumor models.” You can learn things like this much more quickly though PPC than SEO.
I’m clearly pretty passionate about all the ways you can amplify your voice online–and PPC/SEO synergies are really just the tip of the iceberg. If it’s time to start getting more out of your web presence, don’t hesitate to contact us and discuss what might work best for you.