Organic search is pretty vital for any business, PPC ads are increasingly clicked on by a higher proportion of searchers, and with Google Hummingbird, social is likely to become more important for long tail search results.

Anthony Robinson, Head of SEO at Razsor, Auto Trader’s search and web design arm, talked us through how these three disciplines should be seen in the round.

First off, Anthony encouraged us to think of the tangible differences between Google and Facebook. Tangible in the sense of how users input queries into each.

Google, though it serves more contextual results, is used for plain searches for information whereas users will turn to Facebook if they want to spend time looking for friends’ recommendation, perhaps from friends who live a certain part of the world.

Despite the differences between Facebook and Google, and the fact they often seem siloed, Anthony argued we need to break down the digital rivalry. Planners need to work across multiple platforms and the lessons from each should be shared around.

Part of sharing insights across SEO, PPC and social is making sure every role in your team feels like they are part of the overall strategy.

Using PPC keyword data to create organic content and to optimise landing pages is important, as is increasing the authority of content via social media.

Refining and reiterating AdWords copy also continues in the background. Being reactive with PPC and social will help Autotrader to be first in the market when it comes to new models of cars.

Some brands are moving away from ad spend

Anthony gave Ford and Mercedes as examples of leading lights in the automotive sector. Mercedes are moving towards making content instead of buying ads.

The Mercedes site’s performance in the SERPs hints at a link profile that’s twenty times bigger than that found in actuality.

So how can Mercedes’s effectively outperform its link profile? Through social media activity around its content.

Where in the tail?

Anthony acknowledged that motor they can’t always compete with car manufacturers when optimising for brand names in organic search. Midtail search terms are more important. At the longer end of the tail, social targeting is important.

This is often for contextual search terms such as ‘where can I buy a ford?’.

Social is an area that SEO managers have control over. Whilst you can’t do anything about the number of brand searches or the age of your domain, search managers can try to control social activity.

Even tweets to product pages are going to be important for ranking in the long tail.

In summary

  • Don’t rely too heavily on PPC. After all, clicks cost money.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on SEO. Google can always change its algorithm and the game.
  • Use social media. Google plus pages appear in 30% of brand Google searches, so you have to be working with them.

What about (not provided)?

In the Q&A, Anthony gave an interesting answer to this question. He said Autotrader uses an attribution model and works on cost per lead.

To give some idea of the keywords behind traffic, the team apportions URLs to search terms or groups of search terms. So a visitor to ‘about us’ is deemed as having performed a brand search, and so on.

On top of this, they use wordchecker and searchmetrics day-to-day for keyword research.

What if you’re limited to SEO?

A delegate from a pharmaceuticals company asked about the best plan of attack for those that can’t buy ads or do social media.

Anthony encouraged them to investigate the user journey and the SERPs from mobile voice searches and other contextual searches that will only proliferate over the next couple of years.

If content can be optimised for these mobile contextual searches and voice search, then good results may be achievable without ads or social.