In the digital marketing world, there are two huge marketing endeavors:
Pay-per-click marketing and search engine optimization.
Which do you focus on?
These related (yet obviously different) marketing segments often butt heads.
We’ve all seen this happen before with articles that claim that PPC is better than SEO. Or, you’ve probably read posts that try to say that PPC is worthless and SEO will forever be the best marketing tactic for new traffic.
And, of course, there’s the infamous article that you’ve probably read from 100 different sites:
SEO vs. PPC: Which Is Best?
But here’s the truth:
Both are incredible ways to produce results for your business. They simply go about achieving results in different ways.
And depending on your business, one might be better than the other.
But it’s far from universal.
And this posible battle of marketing tactics is pointless.
In fact, SEOs can learn tons of valuable lessons from PPCs, and vice versa.
In this post, I’ll share with you five different tips that SEOs can learn from PPC managers and how to actionably implement these in your SEO gameplan.
1. Data-informed strategies always win
When it comes to analyzing the success of SEO and PPC with data, SEOs have it worse.
PPC has a very direct and specific goal: close the deal. That’s the case unless you are running PPC campaigns for brand awareness, but that’s a different story.
Generally speaking, PPC is great for driving sales and skipping the traditional funnel.
But with SEO, you need to “warm up” visitors to help them become brand aware and interested before they make a purchase.
That means that there’s a lot less room for data analysis, and understanding the process of your prospects takes tons of effort in comparison to PPC.
You have to analyze their on-site behavior, their receptiveness to lead magnets and emails, their time on site, and how they interacted.
But with PPC, you can simply see if they converted or not and fire up a quick remarketing campaign to bring them back.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy with SEO. It’s harder to focus on specific factors that are impacting your sales.
In PPC, on the other hand, you directly know what you need to focus on: the bottom line.
And to tell you the truth, that’s all that matters in SEO, too.
How did they do it?
They didn’t follow new trends or produce content for the sake of producing content like us SEOs can sometimes do. Instead, they made data a priority.
In the first few stages of the campaign setup, they made data their focal point by using Google Analytics call reports and goal/event tracking:
Next, they starting testing the waters with AdWords and seeing what the data said. For instance, how did traffic and conversions impact their bottom line? What could they do to decrease costs?
A big difference here between PPCs and SEOs is that SEO often focuses on bringing in more traffic. But what does your data tell you? Is your conversion rate low?
Maybe you don’t need more traffic. Perhaps you need to focus on increasing conversions from your existing traffic instead.
And that’s exactly what IntuitSolutions did. They decided to “Reduce wasted spend to drive better – not more – traffic.”
Doing so resulted in huge increases in everything from organic to direct traffic:
You might notice a slight drop in paid search traffic, but that’s exactly what they wanted.
PPC isn’t about generating the most traffic for sales. It’s about converting as many as possible and letting the data tell you when to spend more.
While decreasing their traffic by nearly 7%, they increased conversions by 60%.
The data showed that low-quality scores were harming their conversion rates.
Subsequently, they improved them by creating better landing pages, forming better ad groups, and reducing wasted spend.
The data was the only reason they made changes, and they always focused on their bottom line.
It’s easy for SEOs to get caught up in producing more traffic. Trust me — I’m guilty of this every single day.
Instead, listen to the wisdom of PPC managers. They ask, “How can you increase conversions from existing traffic?”
Before running your next campaign, analyze your data to inform your next ten steps. Do you need to increase your conversion rates?
If you do, that might not mean creating more content. It might require you to look for ways to improve your current content or develop new lead magnets instead.
Even though content is the lifeblood of SEO, producing more without a data-based approach won’t move the needle.
2. Never go on autopilot. Always adjust and improve
You’ve just launched a new campaign.
It’s only been a few months, and things are going smoothly. Leads are flowing in, and your content is driving tons of engagement on social media.
So now, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, right?
When it comes to SEO and content marketing, it’s easy to get complacent.
You think that your current wave of leads, traffic, and engagement will stick around for the long haul. You want to keep repeating the same strategy over and over.
You tell yourself, “Just keep blogging and producing more content.”
But unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
And PPC managers know this more than anyone.
Why do you think PPC managers run so many different ad groups?
It’s because they’re always adjusting. They are always moving, improving, and learning from every single campaign.
Their strategies never get stale because they don’t repeat the same process over and over.
Sure, they absolutely double down on their big wins. But they don’t ride them out until there’s nothing left.
They simply keep digging for more strategies and new tactics to pursue.
A prime example of this is when PPC managers utilize the search terms report on Google AdWords.
Believe it or not, on AdWords, you aren’t paying for specific keywords.
For example, the latest keyword that you research and bid on isn’t exactly what you’re buying with each click.
You could be bidding on this:
But in reality, you’re paying for these:
These are search terms. They’re related, verdadero keyword searches that differ by match types.
Just bidding on “seo agency” doesn’t mean you only show up for “seo agency.”
And that’s where SEOs can learn from PPC managers. Good PPC managers find the low-hanging fruit and avoid slipping into autopilot.
To avoid getting comfortable, they utilize the search terms report to uncover new ideas for more campaigns.
By looking at the search terms report, they analyze easy wins by finding searches they are showing up for and creating entirely new campaigns around them.
They get specific and dive deep into each one to create individual landing pages and experiences.
Here’s the key takeaway: Always look for new, fresh ideas in your SEO strategy.
Don’t just sit back and blog about your strengths. Find new topics that your customer saco is interested in. Don’t get complacent and always look for new mediums to test.
If you’re only blogging, research different formats like video, podcasts, or slideshows.
Look for new ways to create engaging campaigns instead of running the same ones over and over again.
3. Learn the art of writing compelling and click-worthy metadata
If you’ve ever used Google AdWords or written a text-based PPC ad before, you know the struggle.
Cramming all of your important, value-driven data into a limited character space is brutally tough.
You get 30 characters for the first headline, 30 more for the second, and only 80 for your description.
And we all know how frustrating that was. 140 characters were never enough to convey verdadero value that drove customers to take action.
Writing meta descriptions and titles is just like writing new ads on AdWords:
Your entire goal is to convey more value to the searcher to improve your CTR and subsequently your rankings.
And since SEOs don’t do this very often, we can learn a ton from PPC managers who write multiple ads per ad group and keep writing new ones on a daily basis.
They know what formulas, strategies, and quick value lines work to produce better click-through rates on non-branded searches.
This easy-to-follow strategy has led him to find massive success with clients. By following a structure, you consistently repeat the keywords for customers to reassure them that they’re finding what they searched for.
Adding benefits and a CTA helps push them over the edge to click on your ad over the competition.
It’s simple enough to replicate for every single new page you publish, but it’s detailed enough to capture interest with specificity and keywords.
When writing your next meta title and description to accompany your latest content marketing piece, follow this simple yet effective strategy for improving your organic CTR:
Focus on the basics: talk directly to what the user is searching for. Let them know that they are getting exactly what they expect to get based on their search.
In the example above, notice that the focus keyword of the post immediately appears in the title, description, and URL string.
Next, it describes the benefits for the searcher to see:
Getting ideas for your meta descriptions is easy when you look at how amazing many PPC ads are.
Simply Google a keyword that your page or latest blog post covers.
For example, I was recently writing a post about content marketing tips in 2018. But I was struggling to make a compelling meta title and description.
So I wandered over to Google and typed in my long-tail keyword to get some ideas:
And immediately one specific AdWords ad jumped out at me with a brilliant idea:
This ad flips the script and drives massive appeal in an otherwise boring conglomerate of headlines using listicle formats.
Reasons why it’s not working.
It’s simply different than the rest and gives you a better angle/approach to writing your post and your meta description.
Instead of touting XX tips, you can tout XX reasons why it’s not working and how you can fix them for your 2018 content marketing strategy.
PPC ad writers have a unique skill of driving tons of interest in very few characters.
Next time you go to write a meta and title, follow the formula from Johnathan or conduct a few Google searches to find inspiration.
You won’t regret it.
4. Dedicated landing pages drive more conversions
As a diverse marketer, I use both SEO and PPC to my advantage.
I produce tons of content marketing pieces on my blog:
On my podcast:
I use tons of different content marketing mediums to drive traffic.
When it comes to PPC, I am always testing and iterating new ideas. And even when I am not using PPC ads, I am learning from colleagues who are killing the PPC game.
But one specific tactic that I have seen in PPC that works better than any other is dedicated landing pages.
It’s something that is seen only rarely in most SEO and content marketing campaigns I’ve worked on.
Usually, people are simply directed to a blog post and funneled into a form on the blog post in the form of a CTA. I’m guilty of it too:
Most of us are. We try to turn that inbound organic traffic into subscribers with a few simple calls to action.
And it works some of the time.
But it could be a lot better.
And that’s where dedicated landing pages come into play.
They are necessary when using PPC for traffic and leads because they help to create specificity and a great user experience, leading to better quality scores.
Landing page experience is a huge piece of the quality score:
You can see this common tactic used by testing a simple search on your own.
For instance, when searching for social marketing tools, I clicked on one of the first ads from Falcon.io, showing me a landing page that was clearly created for this campaign:
It’s a dedicated landing page that even highlights the keyword I was searching for, which lets me know that I got exactly what I wanted to find with their products.
Now that’s specificity. And specificity is king.
When conducting your next content marketing campaign for organic traffic, try driving traffic to dedicated landing pages with your calls to action.
For example, if you want people to sign up for a webinar, don’t just provide a form.
Send them to a personalized, specific landing page you create just for that sole purpose of webinar signups:
Create better experiences for your new organic traffic that will keep them around and coming back for more.
PPC managers know how to create dedicated landing pages. Simply driving homepage traffic doesn’t cut it, even in SEO.
Every keyword search is different and packs different forms of intent. Ensure that your landing pages meet those needs each time and never settle for generic pages.
It also helps to segment landing pages by keyword intent. Depending on each stage of the funnel that a searcher is in, the landing page can be vastly different even when discussing the same product:
Top-of-the-funnel or new traffic that hasn’t visited your site before is not likely to convert on a high-risk item yet.
They won’t buy your full product or service, but they might sign up for an email list or your webinar.
So you can tailor your landing pages to that specific intent.
If your content is lower in the funnel and talks about buying products or services, your CTA landing pages should focus on driving home a final sale or speaking directly with a closing sales rep.
The critical thing that SEOs can learn from PPCs for landing pages is specificity. Create dedicated pages and watch your conversions skyrocket.
5. Test more than you are comfortable with
Depending on the platform you use for PPC, testing is easy. You can flip the proverbial switch and test multiple ads in just seconds.
For example, on Facebook, you can split test your ads by checking off a box:
And on AdWords, you simply create multiple ads per ad group and run them evenly to see which performs best:
In fact, Google actually recommends this, stating that “every ad group should have at least three quality ads. That way, the system can optimize your performance, and you can check your performance data to learn what message resonates best with your audience.”
Essentially, it’s built-in A/B testing.
Testing is popular in PPC but often isn’t in content marketing circles.
Personally, I get hesitant to test and edit old blog posts for fear of messing up their rankings and losing traffic. Or fear of trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
Plus, A/B testing off platforms and on your own site often takes expensive outside tools or third-party services to run them for you.
But testing really does work and PPC managers are the best at it because verdadero dollars and their bottom line are directly at stake with every single test.
One of the easiest things to start testing that PPC managers test daily is their marketing copy.
Writing multiple ads per day to test different value propositions that can inform their next campaign.
Instead of changing your value proposition for a product or service, test multiple to find which resonates best.
A great tool that I like to use for this headline and value proposition testing is the Thrive Themes Headline Optimizer plugin:
With the headline optimizer, you can test variations on your content and show multiple headlines to different audiences.
During the test, the optimizer will compile the data for you directly on the page itself, allowing you to analyze engagement and headline success or failure:
Using the three specific factors of CTR, time-on-site, and scroll-depth, the optimizer will determine which headline sparks the most interest.
These are the types of tests that PPC managers run daily and can easily be done by SEOs, but often are ignored due to fear of losing rankings or messing with content.
You can even start your own AdWords campaign with just a few dollars a day and test different ads.
If they work, double down on their success and implement the copy back into your content marketing pieces.
The options are endless for testing. Don’t be scared to test. If it fails, you’ve learned what doesn’t work and can avoid it in the future.
Digital/online marketing is a diverse mix of different tactics.
Two of the most infamous ones are PPC and SEO, but they often butt heads. They clash, producing big comparisons on which one is better and which is worse.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Both excel in their own respects, and each group can learn tons of valuable lessons from the other.
When it comes to SEOs, you can learn a boatload of tips from PPC managers.
For instance, data-informed strategies always win. Naturally, PPC managers are swimming in metrics, and they only make changes or iterations based on data.
They don’t go on autopilot or assume that their strategy will continue to work. They actively search for new campaign ideas daily.
When it comes to copywriting for improving your CTR, there is no better to teach you than an active PPC manager who creates dozens of new ads every single day. They’ve truly mastered the fine art of compelling copy with small character limits.
To match that, start using dedicated landing pages for your campaigns. Don’t rely on your homepage or just a blog post to get the job done.
Lastly, test more than you feel comfortable testing.
Both PPCs and SEOs can learn from each other. Implement these tips in your SEO strategy moving forward for even more success.
What are some critical lessons you have learned from different marketing specialties/subsets?