The Magical (and Rare) Connection Between PPC & SEO

The Magical (and Rare) Connection Between PPC & SEO

There is an evident and natural link between what PPC and SEO professionals do. At the end of the day, it’s all about making sure the client has a prominent position in the search landscape, also known as the search engine result page (SERP). The way users get onto the SERP is for both disciplines precisely the same, and excellent results on both paid and organic visibility will benefit the client. 

A joint approach where PPC and SEO professionals provide an integrated strategy seems to be the logical step. However, for many agencies, this is still one bridge too far. More often than not, you will see that both PPC and SEO is executed in isolation from each other, with very little information flowing back and forth. Even more so, it’s quite rare for agencies to have weekly or fortnightly client calls with both disciplines present.

Why is it so hard to integrate both disciplines in a way that makes sense and brings synergistic positives for the client? The answer to that question lies with both the client as the agency.

The PPC Bubble

It’s important to realize that PPC professionals usually deal with the marketing side of the client. In some cases (especially in retail) it will be the e-commerce side of the business, but it will be people who are wholly invested in 

1) finding the right audience and 

2) selling their proposition. 

It’s no surprise PPC conversations are usually around efficiency and effectiveness, i.e. how much return do we get from each marketing dollar invested in media? The way budget is determined client-side can be quite flexible, i.e. as long as the investment is resulting in profitable returns the sky’s the limit!

The SEO Bubble

SEO professionals, on the other hand, don’t always deal with either the marketing or e-commerce side of the business. Traditionally anything related to “website” is dealt with by the IT department of the company (as is CRO, which is an entirely separate topic on its own). In most cases, IT departments think in terms of (open) tickets and available resources. 

There is a finite amount of money that can be spent, which usually is determined at the start of the financial year. SEO work is essentially a line item on a long list of things that needs to be fixed. Any SEO work that requires dev time is a ticket that will go through prioritization and development street once started. The very nature of IT is to generate stability and avoid quick change.

Same SERP, Different Language

This means there is an insurmountable difference in pace between how marketing/e-commerce looks at the world and how IT views the same topic. 

This obviously translates to how agency professionals act: a PPC professional will look at his or her work on a weekly (or even daily) basis, whereas an SEO professional will look over several weeks, even months at their work and effects. Trying to tie in SEO in a PPC cycle (and vice versa) is simply impossible. 

Moreover, this might not even be a topic, as in most cases, the client won’t even ask for it. This again has all to do with the walled gardens between marketing/e-commerce and IT.

But just because no one is asking, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be something to strive towards. Even with potential client barriers, such as the mentioned split between departments, a joint strategy can give better direction and more meaningful purpose to both PPC and SEO professionals, and even provide synergistic effects that help each channel individually.

The Single Most Important Thing: A Search Strategy

The essential to do is to take a few steps back and re-evaluate the game that both PPC and SEO are playing. This is about finding consumers when they interact with search engines on their user journey

This is not always a strictly linear process with precise, on-topic searches. For example, if your client is a green energy supplier, consumers don’t necessarily always start their research with “green energy”. It could be that they were looking for “ways to reduce electric bill” before getting onto a journey to investigate green energy. 

Even before that, it could have been a random search for “hybrid or electric-only” after seeing a TV advert for a car. The challenge is to go from a keywords focused approach to an audience & moments led approach. Put a few PPC & SEO specialists in a room, have a brainstorm with this premise, and you will see that both the PPC & SEO specialists will come up with a more holistic approach to the search landscape.

Divide, Combine & Conquer

When the most important audience & moments combinations are chosen, PPC & SEO professionals can make an assessment on where the client stands and, following that, where do we want to be? This not only pushes the strategy forward, but it also creates the framework in which agency & client can decide which areas to tackle first and make decisions if the client wants to buy a share of voice (PPC) or invest longer-term (SEO). Once the strategy is clear, and both PPC and SEO professionals have created a shared understanding, the same shared approach can be transitioned to the client. 

Especially when the client is operating from walled gardens between marketing/e-commerce and IT, this shared approach can help break down barriers and sometimes lead to efficiency and effectiveness. In the simplest form, it could accelerate improvements that were left on the wayside.

From that point onwards, both PPC and SEO professionals are pretty much doing the same thing they were before, but now with more purpose and in relationship to each other. PPC relies on SEO to provide long term relief in a world where CPCs are always rising, and SEO can count on PPC to provide it stability and help with setting clients’ expectations. Ultimately, it moves the client’s search strategy forward, which trumps everything.

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by Albert