Top 5 Ways to Use PPC Data to Improve Your SEO Results
Both PPC and SEO are crucial pieces of any internet marketing strategy but far too often are completely siloed into their own, competing departments. Attribution is and always will be a hot topic among marketers as customers are increasingly active in not only different channels (search, social, & content) but also different mediums (mobile, tablet, & computer).
Regardless of departmental attribution, a successful strategy should always drive overall profit and revenue maximization. The benefits of your PPC and SEO teams working together to achieve a common goal are immense. In the age of the Google Analytics “Keyword (not provided)” update making organic optimization considerably more difficult, understanding what data is available and how to use it is the first step in driving a successful SEO strategy.
1. Enhance Keyword Research
There are already a number of free keyword research tools available, the most popular being Google’s Keyword Planner (You must be logged in to Adwords to use this tool). These are great resources and should not be discounted, but they all contain a common flaw. The depth of keyword suggestions are often limited and the search volume data is only an estimate.
Using Adwords data we can bypass the thin keyword level data and traffic estimates and use actual search query data to drive organic keyword research decisions. In Adwords, by navigating to ‘Keywords > Details > Search Terms, All’ you can see a full report of search queries along with all relevant traffic data.
It is important to understand the limitations of this data as well. Every traffic-related data point (impressions, clicks, CTR) is dependent on your ad position for that search query. Comparing a search query whose average position is 8 to a search query whose average position is 1 doesn’t make much sense.
2. Target the Right Keywords
All of the available free keyword research tools are terrific at providing data related to search behavior but not how that search behavior relates to your business. Just because a keyword seems relevant and meets your standards for search volume, doesn’t mean that the traffic will generate value to your site. Spending months improving your ranking on a particular keyword only to find out the traffic doesn’t convert will make your efforts all for naught.
Again, the search query report provides all of the data necessary to make an even better decision and focus SEO effort on the right keywords. Once you’ve narrowed down a list of potential keywords to target within your SEO strategy, calculating their PPC ‘Value-per-Click’ is a great way to help make the final keyword decision. More traffic isn’t always better. More valuable traffic is better.
3. Generate New Content Ideas
Much of the content ideation your team used to rely on came from keyword data in Google Analytics which is now masked by Keyword (not provided).
This should sound familiar: while the organic keyword data from Google can’t be replaced, we can use the search query report in Adwords to see what searches are triggering our ads. This data can help drive your businesses content creation as you spot trends amongst visitors.
Say for example, you run a restaurant in Phoenix specializing in soup and salad, and are advertising in Adwords for the keyword “phoenix restaurants”. By mining your Adwords search query data you may discover that a lot of your traffic is coming from searches for [vegetarian phoenix restaurants]. Seeing as you cater well to this audience, building out your site content to speak directly to these searchers may make sense.
4. Improve Organic Click-Through-Rate
Testing title tags and meta descriptions to improve organic CTR is extremely difficult.
Setting up ad tests in Adwords is extremely easy! Even though character limits and rules vary between PPC and organic listings, there is much that can be learned from Adwords ad testing. If your site is highly dependent on 1 or just a few exact match keywords, isolating those keywords in Adwords by placing them into their own ad groups is a great solution. This removes variables from testing and allows your headline and description lines to be written exclusively for one search query.
5. Discover Potential Sites for Link Building
Link building can be time consuming, difficult, and you may have already tried and failed with many other link building strategies. You know quality links are a requirement to improve organic rankings but you’ve run out of ideas for finding new sites.
If you advertise on the display network, a complete list of relevant sites across the web may be right at your fingertips. This is especially true if your campaigns are contextually targeted, meaning that they are displaying ads on relevant sites based on your keywords.
You can find this data by navigating in Adwords to ‘Display Network > Placements.’ You’ll likely find that many of the placements listed are large sites that don’t specifically cater to your niche. An advanced technique is to drill down even further using the “See Details” option, to see the exact page your ad was shown on.
By selecting the root domain of the site you’re interested in and choosing “Selected,” you can drill down to the internal pages of only your domain of choice. This can help identify category, subcategory, and specific pages that provide great opportunities for link building.
Having a PPC and SEO strategy driven by a team under the same roof with a common goal provides an undeniable short and long-term benefits. In an industry where data is power, taking full advantage of all available data will drastically improve the results of your online marketing efforts.
About Zach Etten
Zach is a certified Google AdWords Professional with over 4 years of experience managing successful PPC campaigns. His background in statistical analysis and interest in big data led him to become an expert in bid optimization tactics and strategies. Zach has successfully managed large and small campaigns for clients spanning many industries and business models. +Zachary Etten