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Aligning SEO and PPC

4:48 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What I'm trying to do is bring PPC and SEO closer together so that we can create a single search strategy. Having said that, what I'm thinking of trying to accomplish now is to define metrics that can be used to define success in both channels. For example, PPC relies heavily on clicks, conversions and view through conversion whereas SEO is more about visits and time on site. The problem comes from Analytics and Ad Words where there's two different reporting metrics for each, and Google has done this whether it be intentionally or not. I wonder if there's a metric such as clicks or view through conversion which can be measured not only in PPC but SEO too. It would need a hefty custom segment in Analytics or even something bigger, this is where I need help. Has anyone had any experience with this before or has any ideas?
10:27 am on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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This may be different for others but SEO is all about conversions for me. If my search traffic does not convert into sales then I no longer have a budget for SEO. The conversion path is normally a bit different from PPC but at the end of the day both PPC & SEO are all about the conversions for me.
5:55 pm on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I agree with goodroi. BOTH should ultimately be about conversion, though PPC is typically more focused on conversion than SEO IMO. Well managed PPC campaigns (especially those operating on a somewhat limited budget) "generally" target mostly users whose search phrases indicate that they are nearing that point where they are ready to convert. Targeting early buying cycle phrases can drive a huge number of clicks, cost you a lot of money, yet convert at a VERY low rate.

For example, you'll go broke buying "mortgage" as a keyword phrase. These are people early in the sales cycle. They are not going to apply for a loan online. But someone searching for "30 year fixed rate mortgage online" likely knows what they want and are much closer to converting.

When you're spending $30/click for something for which you only make $60 per lead (as I see in lots of highly competitive verticals), you had better be converting almost every click if you don't want to lose your @$$ really quickly.

SEO on the otherhand has the advantage of being able to target users in every phase of the buying cycle. The advantage is that if users are seeing your site in the SERPs throughout the buying cycle when they search for general terms, more specific terms, and later very specific terms that have high conversion rates... when they are ready to convert then they are comfortable with your brand and more likely to come back and buy from you than if they ONLY see your brand at the end of the cycle. This is especially true for small brands.

If I were selling, say, DVD players online (I don't BTW)... I would probably want to rank for the most general phrases typical of early phases in the buying cycle like "DVD player", "Blueray", "Blueray player", etc. These rarely convert.

I would also want to rank for middle cycle phrases like "sony blueray players", "jvc blueray players", etc.

Ultimately I'd also like to rank for phrases used at the end of the buying cycle where the user searches for a particular model like "sony model 29838c blueray dvd player". These types of phrases typically will convert at a much higher rate.

So the goal for SEO is the same, a conversion... yet the phrases you might go after as an SEO typically encompass the entire buying cycle where it would often be cost prohibitive to do that with PPC. SEO often involves trying to rank for high volume, low converting terms as well as lower volume, higher converting terms.

There are, however, lots of synergies to be gained by "comparing notes" between PPC and SEO. Attribution would be one place where I would look. Conversion rates for particular keywords would be another.

If your company has a successful multi-channel marketing department, you'll likely find that each sale can be attributed to many channels. You might find something like that a typical user on average clicks on 3 organic links, 1 display advertising links, 1 affiliate link, 3 PPC links before finally converting (just making that up).

At one point at a previous employer, we were spending $5MM/month in PPC. I not only went after high converting SEO keywords, but I also saved them tons of money by improving rankings of high volume/high competition/low converting words. The fact that I ranked high for them organically AND we were buying PPC (instead of ONLY buying PPC for those keywords) meant that at least some of the time people were clicking on the organic link instead of the PPC link. That savings on PPC could be retargeted to higher converting keywords.

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