Effective PPC and SEO Integration into 2009

It’s actually really easy, and because this could be a really long and boring topic, I’m going to keep it short highlighting 8 important points of effective SEO and PPC dual implementation.

1. First, conduct extensive keyword research. From your potential keyword universe, you filter your preferred sample of primary (and some longer tail) phrases for onpage SEO. The full universe of keywords is applied to PPC.

2. If you are unsure of which phrases to target from an SEO perspective, then complete your PPC campaign and make it live. Careful review and analysis of your top performing PPC keyphrases (based on your predetermined KPIs) will give you a great indication of which terms to target from an SEO perspective. Bear in mind, for many major or well known brands, the brand and product names usually account for more than 90% of all traffic. Adding the primary non-brand keyphrases to the mix in the primary on-page SEO elements will not detract from the strength of the brand exposure, but will likely improve your appearance in the SERPs for related non-brand searches. Ensuring that these non-brand keyphrases form part of the anchor text in a backlink strategy is a great strategy.

3. When conducting your keyword research, pay close attention to potential negative keywords for application to the PPC campaign;

3.i. In practice: If you are performing keyword research for a prostate cancer clinic, words you want to include to add your running negative keyword list will include words that crop up in the research on the primary research phrase ‘cancer’, and will probably include:

  • sign (people with cancer tend to search for cancer ‘signs’ plural while people interested in the astrological cancer ‘sign’ need to be filtered out)
  • tropic
  • horoscope
  • astrologic (anything to do with ‘astro’ really)
  • every other body part (you’re targeting prostate cancer, so you are not interested in ‘brain’ cancer, ‘breast’ cancer, ‘colon’ cancer, ‘kidney’ cancer etc)

3.ii. On a slightly different (and happier) note; if you are a winter vacation resort, and you don’t offer an outdoor hotpool, hot tub, warm spring, steam bath, jacuzzi (and all other combinations) make sure you are not ‘broad’ phrase advertising on the term ‘winter vacation resort’. Run that logic throughout your campaign creation, specifically ensuring you refine your exposure to terms you actually can service, and for which there are dedicated pages on your site.

4. Effective PPC campaign conception, creation and management is not the remit of this post, but in summary, make your campaigns geo-targeted if you serve multiple locations; if not then set campaign by primary topic such as ‘treatment’, ‘signs and symptoms’, ‘statistics’, ‘support’ etc. This step would be the adword level for a geographically diverse campaign. Ensure that adcopy includes the adword level primary search term in the title and at least once in the description, with the primary search term in every URL; i.e. ‘cancer’ at a bare minimum. Create multiple adcopy to allow for a/b testing, make sure you have your goals set, watch your budget, watch your KPI and make sure your landing pages are relevant, highly appropriate and easy to navigate with clear purpose and direction in both copy and call-to-action. Here’s more info on PPC creation why’s and how’s.

5. If your SEO contingent is targeted with assisting IA in the development of a new micro-site to complement a banner ad/TV/radio/magazine etc ad strategy, make sure knowledge of the objectives, along with all the keyword research, is passed to the PPC folks for integration into the PPC initiative.

6. If the company decides on a short term promotion targeting PPC and banner ad placement online, pass the information to SEO where they can include the target tag-line and primary likely converting phrase into a link off the home page to the PPC landing page. The chances are that your home page is crawled at least once every week to two weeks (if you are a small business and don’t update very often). If you are a larger business with more dynamism in terms of visitor volume and interaction, and if you regularly change your content, your home page may be crawled multiple times a day.

7. Most active blogs are also crawled far more frequently than less ‘dynamic’ sites. Therefore, link the corporate blog to the PPC landing page as well, ensuring that the PPC landing page is not excluded via robots.txt, or misuse of noindex etc. I read a great article on crawl and cache rate (due to effective page management and maintenance) and the effect on rankings a few weeks ago by Scott Hendison – totally worth a good few minutes of your time.

8. SEO and PPC may have very different KPI; for example, PPC may be aimed at pure profit or ROAS (return or adspend), while SEO may be aimed primarily at brand exposure.

This does not mean you need to limit either approach to any single goal. In fact I strongly urge you to set up a number of PPC and SEO goals including registration, conversion and contact as well as more tactical goals including bounce rate on select pages, most visited sub-pages, visitor paths and visitor locations. Insight into general web analytics geographic location of visitors can give insights on where to further promote PPC, or withdraw it if it is not effective.

Bounce rate can indicate landing pages that are not working, both from a PPC and an SEO perspective. Apply full web analytics to both and integrate them so that you only have one primary interface. It is very easy to tie your Google Analytics to both AdWords and general data. I strongly urge you to do so.

In Closing: Integrating, managing and reporting on both SEO and PPC initiatives simultaneously with the same team, or with teams that are encouraged to work effectively together to complement and support each other will make an enormous difference to your online presence in the SERPs. It’s not getting easier out there, but while competition is increasing, effective management is not necessarily following suit – yet. Give yourself a competitive advantage in 2009 and start today!

Happy New Year!!!

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