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PPC & SEO -- Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together

Carrie Hill
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Peanut butter and chocolate are probably my favorite combined flavors. I like peanut butter on its own -- and I love chocolate -- but when you marry them together in the harmony that is a peanut butter cup... well I digress, we're not here to talk about my junk food issues.

We've spoken quite a bit about the special circumstances that surround the small businesses marketing budget -- along with the scarcity of your time as a small business owner. Building pages or writing copy that serves only one purpose is good, but using that same content for two applications is even better when you're barely finding time to write one page -- let alone two.

I've never been a huge fan of the traditional PPC-only landing page in a small business setting. Designed to be a uni-tasker, its sole purpose is to convert clicks from a particular PPC ad or ad group.

If you have a lot of time and budget for generating and testing these landing pages -- by all means go for it. For small businesses, the "time is money" mantra makes this a less than desirable way to spend valuable time.

Instead, spend the time building a great page of content that will give you nice conversions and a good CTR and quality score for your paid ads. Your awesomely optimized page is just a few more steps away. Why not have a page that serves double duty?

Many successful marketers will tell you they use their PPC campaigns to fine-tune the keywords they've found before implementing them in their SEO. We can use keyword research tools to make educated guesses as to which keywords would be ideal for a site.

The issue: every site, and every site's target market, is a bit different. By putting your initial keyword research into a PPC campaign measuring the actual traffic volumes and conversion rates, you're going to ensure stellar SEO results -- if you're SEOing your pages correctly. This works well if you already have a good landing page available for those PPC clicks.

Sometimes you're going to need to build that page of content. You just might move ahead of the game by optimizing that page for search engines -- and paid ads at the same time.

My preferred technique is to build a quality page of content for a term that may have a hefty search volume -- and a high KEI (keyword effectiveness index). If you're optimizing that page for your high-KEI (low-competition) keyword -- and then pointing PPC at that page -- you'll see nice results if the traffic is there and you're providing a nice user experience.

If your term has a very low KEI -- and a ton of searches -- it's more than likely going to be quite competitive (read: "Expensive!") in terms of PPC spend. Many small businesses don't have the budget available to bid on expensive keywords.

My preference in many cases, depending upon size of site and budget, is to build organic pages for terms that cost a lot in PPC engines, optimize them for those highly competitive terms, and work on gaining some decent rankings. Once I'm happy with the organic positioning, I add in a supporting PPC ad bid to position in a less expensive space -- say fifth through seventh on the page. This reduces my cost per click in two ways:

  1. My page is highly relevant to the term I'm bidding on -- increasing my quality score.
  2. The ad is bid to a lower and less competitive position -- costing less per click than positions one through three.

If your PPC budget just won't support highly competitive terms, you can still see success using the "long tail" of search. Long tail terms get fewer searches, but the ones they get are usually much more targeted.

"Orlando hotel" is pretty competitive and expensive. "Orlando hotel suite near Downtown Disney" is much less competitive, and therefore less expensive. The beauty is this term is much more descriptive of what that particular client might offer -- resulting in a more likely to convert scenario. As a general rule, longer tail terms tend to convert at better rates -- making them the champions when looking at your "cost per conversion" metric.

So we've outlined some options when it comes to creating a combined PPC and SEO campaign that is the equivalent of a yummy peanut butter cup. Ideally, you're optimizing pages for great terms -- and pointing paid ads at those pages for a double dose of highly relevant and converting traffic. Combine a little chocolate (SEO) with a tad of peanut butter (PPC) and enjoy!

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