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Andrew Girdwood wrote an article in April last year, which spoke about why to be great at PPC you have to be good at SEO.
There are some excellent tips here, which are well worth taking a look back over, but I believe this can be applied both ways.
Looking at this from the opposite perspective, I have listed some reasons why, in my opinion, having a strong understanding of the paid search advertising model can be a big advantage to improving SEO techniques.
Below are a few tips about how you can integrate PPC knowledge into your SEO strategy:
Paid search helps you to understand the importance of click through rates (CTRs) because PPC managers will try to write concise and interesting PPC headlines to generate a maximum number of clicks.
For SEO, you can look to integrate the top performing PPC ad headline ideas into webpage title tags; maximising CTRs for organic listings, while still using optimised keywords relevant to a specific search.
- In many cases, optimising a website’s homepage is the easy option for targeting the most important keywords. However, if this was a paid search campaign, you would not send users to a general webpage where the navigational options are high and where the user may not find what they have originally searched for, get confused and hit the back button.
Instead, you would try and keep the bounce rate low by selecting a PPC landing page containing content related to a specific query. Shouldn’t you be doing the same for organic search traffic?
- Organic search snippets are commonly very bland and boring to read for users, but the main objective of a PPC ad is to be compellingso that it attracts a user’s eye and increases the number of clickthroughs.
PPC descriptions can be very time-consuming to perfect, but once they are performing well they can easily be applied to freshen up meta descriptions and provide a more interesting listing in the SERP’s.
You should also remember not only to use important keywords (so that these are highlighted when searched for), but also to clearly describe the landing page content so that the description attracts as many relevant clicks as possible where traffic is likely to be of a good quality and convert at a higher rate.
This can be very effective when applied to webpage’s which are already generating significant volumes of search engine traffic.
- Landing page optimisation is often overlooked during an SEO project. However, it is possible to optimise a webpage effectively while still using many of the usability techniques you would apply to a PPC ad.
This should create a clear navigational path to direct users towards the end goal of a converting sale or lead. Sometimes you may have to finely balance the importance of landing page, perhaps for example with a #6 ranking achieving a 5% conversion rate, compared to a less optimised #8 ranking with a 15% conversion rate.
But the end goal should always be the quality of traffic, so optimising for conversions should always be a major consideration.
- Many website URLs are long, messy and often don’t contain targeted keywords. If you have a PPC display URL which is achieving high CTRs, try to incorporate this into your organic strategy to build a URL structure which is tidier for the search engine spiders and more attractive to click for a searcher.
PPC is frequently seasonally-based. For example, in PPC you may heavily promote summer holidays during the early months of a New Year. Seasonality isn’t as common in SEO, but if you look at this with a PPC mindset you may try and optimise for seasonal keywords more heavily.
Perhaps aiming to improve organic rankings for specific terms such as “Beach Holiday Destinations in 2009”, also targeting additional traffic from Google News and Universal Search results.
If you already have high rankings for more competitive terms such as “summer holidays”, rather than creating new content on a separate URL you could update the previous version instead, maintaining rankings and providing users with more relevant and higher converting content.
Actual PPC keyword data can be invaluable to an SEO campaign. While there are many very good keyword research tools available, few compare to actual search volume, impression data from Google AdWords.
In addition to improving the accuracy of estimating search traffic, the clickthrough rate and conversion figures can be very useful towards selecting terms which are key to a business. Some keywords may not convert as highly as expected when put into practice, so testing these first using PPC means you can focus upon proven high-quality keywords, rather than basing selection on assumptions which may prove to be incorrect.
This is especially important when you consider that it may take over 6 months to find this out while waiting for rankings to reach a high-traffic referring level.
- Many high converting PPC keywords are likely to be long tail variations which you may not have considered otherwise. When added to an SEO campaign, these are likely to be less competitive to obtain high organic rankings for and may quickly become a very profitable source of traffic.
Kevin Gibbons is Director of Search for SEOptimise .