Natural and paid search ad campaigns work best when they complement each other, but how can marketers optimise the two practices? Asher Gordon, Head of Biddable Media at Tug explores the SEO vs PPC debate and explains why these tools are most effective when used together as part of an integrated digital marketing approach.
The Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) versus Pay Per Click (PPC) debate, niche as it may seem, is one that has plagued marketers for years – and if you’ve tried to Google something recently, you can understand why.
After all, with Google processing billions of searches daily, how can you make your business seen? Which search tool will drive the most web traffic to a business, and help it stand out amongst its competitors?
The truth is, SEO and PPC are ultimately two sides of the same coin. That makes them most effective when used together as part of an integrated digital marketing approach. When used in tandem, SEO and PPC can cover each other’s blind spots, generate across-the-board insights and deliver better results.
So why doesn’t everyone use both? The thing is, in order to achieve that beautifully synergised outcome, businesses need to know how to merge SEO and PPC effectively – and that’s no mean feat. But businesses who get stuck in will certainly reap the rewards if they keep the following advice in mind:
1. Think of PPC and SEO as one channel, and call it all search
SEO and PPC both have their benefits and pitfalls. As an organic search tool, SEO benefits from higher click-through rates and it’s also generally a more cost-effective way to deliver brand awareness and relevant website traffic. However, organic traffic can be a slow development and, depending on the keywords chosen, top dogs like online marketplaces may still win out.
Paid search, on the other hand, is a speedy way to get in front of customers – and that’s great for brand visibility. But depending on the target market and the size of the campaign, PPC costs can escalate rapidly. What’s more, whilst PPC delivers results, the scope of those results lasts only as long as the length of campaign. Once payment stops, ads stop too – so lead generation dries up.
Rather than keeping SEO and PPC in their silos, brands should encourage PPC and SEO teams to share what they learn. High-performing ad copy and effective PPC keywords should feed back seamlessly into SEO operations. Likewise, the paid team can benefit from knowing where SEO content opportunities have fared well, and whether content has been optimised to improve PPC quality scores.
2. Build a data dashboard – but build it right, and know your audience
Combining various data sources enables brands to see the full picture of their search activity, their business, and the opportunities available – but the dashboard needs to be constructed in the right way.
Any data dashboard needs to run on clean, meaningful data and rest on sound principles. The core components include a data collection, data storage and processing, and, finally a data visualisation layer.
This final visualisation layer, in particular, is easy to get wrong. Very simply, if the visualisation doesn’t set out data in a clear, actionable way for the people who need to see it, everything else is in vain. To avoid getting your wires crossed, it’s important to know your audience and map out the most suitable approach with them.
3. Make time for manual reviews
Today’s search analytics tools can give brands an overview of all search activity at once, giving a detailed overview of keyword strategy and optimisation insights. Tug’s Search Uncut tool, for example, offers alerts where competitors are or aren’t bidding, helping to identify cost efficiencies, whilst AI tools like Adthena give a clearer combined view across search activity in markets, sectors and categories. But technology is only a complement to human expertise. Whatever tech you use, nuanced manual reviews are still essential – especially, for example, when showing a different page or message might provide an opportunity for incremental conversions.
By leveraging the value, efficiencies and opportunities of PPC and SEO, brands can exploit data-driven insights to the maximum – not only futureproofing and advancing their businesses, but also guaranteeing the best possible experiences for their customers.
By Asher Gordon
Head of Biddable Media
Asher Gordon is Head of Biddable Media at Tug, collaborating with all parts of the agency to ensure excellent results for clients. Previously, he has worked on the digital offerings at Wavemaker and PhD Global Business, while his brand experience spans across clients such as SAP, Porsche, Bupa and Compare the Market.