The Compounding Benefits of PPC and SEO
How many times have you been completely bewildered by the results of a digital strategy?
Positive or negative, there is often a limit to the certainty we can have when it comes to online marketing success. This becomes a far more pressing matter for those in the field of digital marketing, as a certain route toward positive outcomes can be difficult to come by, with many different roads to take. With that said, there is one more pressing problem at the heart of this industry:
The online world is fickle.
With the digital landscape constantly fluctuating and changing, it can be difficult for smaller companies and startups to form their strategies in ways that accurately reflect the expectations of the consumer zeitgeist. We are looking to assist in the process, giving businesses a foothold when diversifying their campaigns from the perspective of an established digital marketing agency.
So, where do we begin?
It’s no secret that SEO is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy. 44% of consumers start the shopping process with an online search, and almost a third of e-commerce traffic comes from search engines. Even if you’re primarily a brick-and-mortar shop, organic search traffic is important: Half of mobile searchers visited a store within a day of their search. So no matter what type or size of business you have, search engines are a vital source of traffic.
Unfortunately, there’s one big problem: up to 96% of organic search traffic doesn’t convert the first visit to your site. A big part of this is just the natural sales process: The vast majority of searches have informational search intent. However, there’s an effective way you can find those visitors after they leave your site when they are more likely to convert: retargeting.
Site Retargeting: Recycling Your SEO Traffic
Site retargeting (sometimes called retargeting) is, simply put, targeting users who have previously visited your website with advertisements on ad networks around the web. It most commonly refers to banner ads, but you can also retarget visitors with text ads using Google’s Search Network (note: this is not the same thing as search retargeting, which we’ll talk about in a little bit). It differs from traditional display buying in that it only targets people who have visited your site, or a specific section or page of your site instead of using some other demographic segment.
Even better, you can put a pixel on individual pages, so you can run targeted campaigns for specific products or categories.
The result? A combination of the two most effective online marketing channels. As mentioned above, SEO traffic generally converts at around 2% (2.35% to be exact). This is considered by advertisers to be the most effective marketing channel for conversions. When you combine this traffic with display retargeting, you can double that conversion rate. Some industries, such as financial services, had conversion rates increase by almost 150 percent!
Search Retargeting: Sort of SEO but Also Sort of Not
But what if you’re a brand new site, or a smaller site that doesn’t get as much traffic as you’d like? It’s hard to retarget visitors if they don’t pass through your website in the first place. Fortunately, there’s a way you can advertise to people searching for your target keywords, even if they never pass through any of your web properties, through a process called "search retargeting." Search retargeting is like organic search marketing wrapped in a display advertising shell.
Search retargeting starts when a user performs a search. Ad vendors are then able to capture that search data a few different ways, depending on what search engine they use, but the most common is by using referrer data sent by the user’s landing page. Once the ad network sees a web surfer that has your target search term in the referral data, it will display your ad on that page.
It’s important to note here that keyword-level targeting, the process I just described, is not the same as keyword-only segments. The former is truly targeting people who have just performed a search online for that keyword, while the latter is an audience interest segment built by collecting past search behavior. Targeting these segments, while effective, is not true search retargeting.
The biggest benefit of search retargeting is that you get to combine the reach of display marketing with the precision of SEO. Of course, since this marketing channel uses SEO data, it starts with keyword research. Once you’ve built up a list of keywords, your optimization becomes much easier as landing page optimization switches from SEO to conversion rate optimization (CRO) based on your campaign goal. Ideally, you’ve segmented your keywords and landing page by search intent:
Informational: These keywords represent the very beginning of the conversion process, and are not very likely to convert on the first visit. If you’re running a branding campaign you’ll want to be sure to include informational keywords on your list. If you’ve got a conversion goal, you still can’t afford to ignore these keywords as they make up the majority of searches. Informational keywords often use words/phrases like "how to", “do I need” and “where to find”. Consider these leads to be converted later via your website or site retargeting.
Research: These searchers are further down the funnel than informational searchers. They’ve already decided that they want to buy a product, but they haven’t quite decided which one is best. They’re looking for more information, so product keywords usually include words such as "review", “top 10”, “comparison”. And while it may look like spam to you, a word like “cheap” can actually help turn researchers into conversions.
In-market: These are the "shut up and take my money" searchers. They expect search results to take them directly to the product they’re trying to buy. These keywords typically include words like “deal”, “free shipping”, “discount” and “buy”. They don’t have high search volume, but should more than make up for it with high conversion rates.
The obvious benefit of search retargeting is that you can reach people who are interested in keywords that you struggle to rank highly for. However, you can also use it to sneakily siphon off some of your competitors’ traffic. Check out their pages and identify their keywords by looking at phrases used in title tags, H1 tags, URLs and article titles. Then, track any keywords you compete over using WooRank’s SERP Checker. Up your bid for keywords they outrank you on to take some of that traffic for yourself.
Organic & Retargeting Working Together
So far, we’ve been talking about how to use your SEO efforts to enhance your retargeting campaigns and increase conversion rate. But, the benefits go both ways. Running retargeting campaigns, both site and search, can work indirectly to boost your organic search engine traffic. One of their biggest advantages is that they overcome ad blindness: Three out of four consumers notice when they are shown retargeted ads. This is huge for improving and reinforcing brand recognition, and the numbers reinforce this. Back in 2010, comScore found that site retargeting led to a huge (1,046%) increase in branded search activity. That could be reason enough on its own to run a retargeting campaign.
That same comScore study found that running retargeting campaigns resulted in a 726% lift in return visitors four weeks after seeing the banner ad. Sites running retargeted ad campaigns also see a similar increase in time spent on site, and a much lower bounce rate. So it definitely helps your organic search marketing to keep your brand in front of users after they leave your site.
As the title of this piece suggests, there are resounding benefits to looking at your digital strategies as one interconnected system; each part playing its role that develops alongside the next. This relationship of digital development is no more visible than in the pairing of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC).
For those that haven’t dabbled with these marketing styles in the past:
SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the process of ensuring your site appears high in search engine rankings through strategic planning based on desirable keywords. Whether done in-house or through a designated search marketing agency, the basis of this service tends to revolve around the production of desirable content in varying forms.
This process encapsulates:
- On-Page Optimization – Making alterations to your website metadata and keyword consistency; ensuring that it is easily understood and categorized by search engines.
- External Links – Linking applicable keywords back to your website through a variety of online platforms to build perceived relevance in search engines for a certain topic.
- PPC – Pay-Per-Click Advertising, as the name suggests, is a marketing strategy where businesses pay for their advertising only when users click through to their landing page. This puts the potential success of a campaign in the hands of the website owner, as irrelevant traffic that does not convert poses far more of an issue than with organic marketing strategies.
A fantastic example of the benefits offered by unique PPC campaigns, Sky News utilized this service to target keywords associated with specific news stories. As competition was exceedingly low, with PPC costs dropping to around 25p per click, Sky News managed to develop their campaign around these obscure phrases with enormous success; drawing in over 100,000 potential readers in the process.
This strategy can lead to hugely successful campaigns with relatively low costs-per-click, making it a risk/reward balance that can have resounding benefits for your business.
Both of these systems have one shared goal, which is getting your brand or service in front of as many potential users as possible. However, to find the true relationship between these different approaches for small businesses, it gets a little more complicated.
The Plights of Small Businesses
As a new or fledgling business, you are likely still in the process of establishing your reputation against that of your competitors, and lack of a large audience, which can make it hard to appear as an authority in your field. SEO and PPC are a way to gain recognition for the services you provide, with successful campaigns propelling you into the public eye faster than most other forms of promotion. It’s likely not going to come as much of a surprise that most users of Google never make it past the first page; making those top 10 results vitally valuable for the upstart hopeful.
To put it simply: By offering an alluring, targeted PPC advertisement, coupled with high rankings for these same relevant keywords, you aren’t just offering two direct modes of access for potential clients; you are adding a perceived level of authority to your services within that search. With that in mind, getting users to your service is only half of the battle.
The Boons of Conversion Rate Optimization
If you have managed to get potential customers to your page with the promise of trustworthy, quality, engaging content and services; a page that doesn’t reflect these values will quickly drive your new audience away. Conversion Rate Optimization is the process of designing your website in a way that leads visitors toward a conversion or other desired action.
For those that have access to their website’s analytics, observing the bounce rate of pages should give you a solid insight into whether these efforts have seen success. For those unfamiliar, the bounce rate of a website is determined by the number of people that leave a website without engaging with it. Whether due to extensive load times, unappealing design or being perceived as irrelevant; the outcome is the same for your business.
Consider using a website optimization tool to optimize your entire conversion funnel.
Enticing Your Customers
Regardless of the quality of your service, a poor description or unappealing design can spell an early end for your hopes of digital domination.
With that in mind, your website needs to both meet the expectations of your target audience and give your customers an easily followed road toward your desired destination.
This can be achieved by:
- Ensuring that all your content is engaging and informative, giving users an easily digestible way to interact with your website.
- Making sure that there are easily visible links to your pages, allowing for easy navigation throughout the site.
- Ensuring that your design is aesthetically pleasing, while still reflecting the wants of your targeted clientele. For example, a theatrical, creatively-driven page full of verbosely crafted content may do wonders for a local theatre troupe, but may not go over quite as well in the world of industrial architecture.
- Making sure all pages are up, live and fully functional. Nothing can stop a customer in their tracks quite like dead pages or non-functional links.
The Ideal Process
While much of digital marketing strategy can come down to chance, coupled with the need for an appealing brand or service; offering solid PPC, SEO and CRO strategies are sure to give you a boosted ROI. Initialisms aside, small businesses have a lot to gain by utilising the services available to them. When seeing each individual part of your digital marketing strategy as an entirely separate entity, you begin to lose sight of the customer experience, which is vital for the proliferation of your website.