The number of companies performing SEM in silos is still surprising. They’ll hire one agency to do PPC and another to do SEO. Or they’ll have an in-house marketer doing PPC, while SEO is delegated to their IT department.
These scenarios aren’t inherently bad. They can work very well — if there’s communication between the two. In Part 1, we outlined ways to integrate PPC with e-mail marketing. Today we’ll talk about the key information that should be shared when integrating PPC with SEO.
Step 1: Develop a Master Keyword List
In school, we knew we had to do our homework if we wanted to get good grades. It’s no different in search marketing.
While the execution of a SEO campaign is very different from the execution of a PPC campaign, keywords are the basis for both. Work with your agency or in-house SEM team to develop a list of key phrases that describe your product or service and are critical to your business.
If you specialize in one or two products or services, the list may be very short. For many e-commerce Web sites, the list will be extremely long. That’s OK. If it’s important to your business, make sure it’s on the master list.
Step 2: Prioritize the List
Now it’s time for some down-and-dirty keyword research. There are many free or low-cost keyword tools you can use, including the Google AdWords keyword tool. Pick one and go with it.
The first goal of keyword research is obtaining search volume estimates. You want to make sure you’re expending your efforts on the most leveraged terms. Usually these are the terms with the most searches.
The second goal is finding additional variations on the key phrases you’ve selected. Sometimes the first phrase that comes to your mind isn’t the first one to come to the searcher’s mind, especially if you’re selling a technical product or one that involves insider jargon that the layperson wouldn’t know.
Once you have all major keyword variations, and search volume for each, start prioritizing. Sort your list by volume and keyword groups.
For instance, you might want to prioritize keywords around your top-selling product lines. Or you may want to prioritize your most profitable product line, or a new product line. Decide what’s most important to your business and put that at the top of the list.
Step 3: Launch your PPC Campaigns
Now, the fun begins. It’s time to put that research into practice. You should launch PPC first.
This is quick and relatively easy to do: all you need is your keyword list, ad copy, and a credit card, and ads can be live within a day or two. Also, you’ll have greater control over your PPC campaign than you will over a SEO campaign.
While a good SEO can definitely control many facets, ultimately you’re at the mercy of the search engines when it comes to ranking, description, PageRank, etc. With PPC, you can control your keywords, bids, ad copy, time of day your ad shows, and many other aspects — and you can turn the whole thing off with the click of a mouse.
Step 4: Observe and Optimize
Keep close tabs on key PPC metrics such as CTR and conversion rate by keyword, as well as quality score. Tweak your campaign by dialing down losers and boosting winners. The goal here isn’t only to gather data, but ideally to get conversions as well!
While your PPC campaign is running, get started on your SEO research. A good place to start is Eric Enge’s 60 minute site audit. But don’t make any site changes yet. Once you have about 30 days worth of PPC data (the time frame will vary depending on how much traffic your site gets), use this information to determine where to begin SEO. Some options might be:
- Keywords that convert well in PPC for which you’d like to dominate the page by also ranking well in SEO.
- High-volume keywords that are expensive to buy in PPC, but would drive high numbers of conversions from organic traffic.
- Keywords that you’d ultimately like to stop bidding on in PPC and generate traffic solely from organic sources.
- Keywords or groups of keywords that are relevant to your business, but that have a low PPC quality score. Optimizing the landing pages (along with improving PPC campaign structure and ad copy) can often improve your quality score in the process.
- Terms for which competitors outrank you.
There are many other options. The point is, don’t guess at this stuff.
Even if your Web site only has 10 pages, SEO can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to begin. Use PPC to determine where you can get the biggest impact, and start there.