Get In The Race: The PPC Sprint And SEO Marathon

Who doesn’t love a good metaphor inspired by the world of athletics? We often describe our endeavors in terms of climbing mountains, hitting home runs, scoring goals and so on. It may sound a lot more exciting than much of what we really do on a day-by-day basis: writing emails, sitting through conference calls, calling a repairman to fix the office refrigerator and other thrilling activities that don’t lead to gold medals.

Sports metaphors may seem silly at times, but they do provide an effective way to illustrate basic business concepts. So it is with internet marketing, which many of us in the industry habitually liken to a footrace.

Which Race Are You Running?

So what do marketers have in common with runners? Both groups participate in timed events. While the runner tries to be the first to break the ribbon at the end of the track, the marketer attempts to generate a return on investment within a reasonable time frame. But what some fail to understand is that marketing involves multiple races, some of them much longer than others.

In fact, search engine optimization can be compared to a marathon — it typically takes a while before your SEO strategies see appreciable results, and patience is key. By contrast, pay-per-click (PPC) is more of a sprint; if your campaign isn’t working, you’ll know it pretty soon and you can switch strategies and start again.

It’s easy to see why some marketers tend to develop a preference for one approach or the other. To some, PPC is too costly, while others dislike the long-game nature of SEO.

So which race do you need to prioritize: the SEO marathon or the PPC sprint? It’s true that organic search is far more popular among consumers than PPC, but it’s also true that those who arrive at an e-commerce site via PPC are 50% more likely to buy something than organic visitors. An oft-quoted figure holds that the average value of Google Ads for companies that use them is $2 in revenue for every $1 spent.

Now, what does it all mean? I believe it means that you need to learn to use both SEO and PPC together to ensure the best possible results. If you give them a chance, they can make a great team. It’s time to bring your A-game to both races.

Crossing Lanes

In the real world, there is little overlap between the individuals who participate in marathons and those who run the 100-meter dash. They require fundamentally different skill sets. That’s why you don’t see Usain Bolt in the Boston Marathon. In the business world, you see a related phenomenon with SEO and PPC.

Many companies have a dedicated department for SEO and another one for PPC, and rarely do the two meet. This makes a certain amount of sense when you consider that the primary aim of PPC, making immediate sales, tends to differ from SEO, where that consideration is less urgent. However, this kind of partitioned hierarchy can discourage communication and the sharing of insights between the SEO and PPC teams.

I’ve found that the best way to get these two campaigns to work together is to get your teams to literally work together. You don’t necessarily have to consolidate your SEO and PPC teams, but it’s probably a good idea to have them meet up every week or so to discuss recent developments and share data.

How SEO Can Fuel PPC

It’s nice to have the No. 1 organic ranking, but you know what’s even better? Having the No. 1 organic ranking and a PPC link on top of it. If you don’t maintain an ad that shows up in the search engine result pages (SERPs), you’re leaving an opening for your competitors.

You can use SEO to fuel your PPC campaigns. For example, your SEO team can present their latest analytics trends they’ve found when it comes to a client’s site or competitors. Are certain pages frequented more often? Are new organic keywords and phrases on the rise in their industry, and what content is increasing in relevancy? This is valuable information that can be leveraged by the PPC team for creating ad copy, landing pages and PPC messaging that will grab attention.

How PPC Can Jumpstart SEO

Conversely, PPC teams can benefit SEO efforts. The goal of PPC is to capture attention and make someone take action — and a lot of testing usually has to happen to find the best combination of offers, headlines, meta descriptions, etc.

So using high-performing ad examples and landing pages from your PPC team can inspire your SEO team in optimizing their organic efforts. This might include using high-click ads as inspiration for page titles and meta descriptions or high-converting landing pages for organic on-site content and layouts that inspire greater conversion actions from site visitors.

But beware: This strategy — using PPC to boost an SEO campaign — sometimes works so well that businesses decide to ditch PPC altogether. It seems to make perfect financial sense — once you’ve figured out how to reach a No. 1 Google ranking organically, why waste money on Google Ads? I’ll tell you why: Because the PPC race is still happening — and you likely still need to be in it.

Is There A Finish Line?

With Google processing more than 40,000 searches per second, there are many opportunities to capture the attention of prospective customers. By combining SEO and PPC strategies, you can cast a much larger net — to switch to a fishing metaphor — than is possible with only one type of campaign.

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