How to Use SEO and PPC the Right Way [5 Short Case Studies]By Elna Cain on January 5, 2016
Reading Time: 13 minutes
If you’re a startup business with a small budget, you might be tempted to rely heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) to market your website.
Or you might be divided in your thinking.
You may believe that per-per-click (PPC) advertising alone might be worth the expense, or you might be considering both SEO and PPC as part of your marketing plan.
Each represents one-half of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), but how do you decide which half is most effective for your business? Let’s briefly consider both, and then hone in on the approach that’ll lead to quicker results.
A Brief Overview of SEO and PPC
SEO and PPC are search engine marketing techniques that are designed to drive traffic to your website.
SEO does this in a fairly discreet manner. In simple terms, a person types in a phrase and the search engine finds websites that incorporate that phrase, and then lists those web pages in your search engine results. Here’s the Google result for, “virtual assistant services.”
If your website ranks well for that key phrase, it will be listed in the search engine results page (SERP).
On that same page, you’ll find advertisements on the top and side of the search results. These are paid advertisements that also appear based on related keywords.
When your ad campaigns appear in search results, you’re charged each time a person clicks on your advertisement. The more competitive the word, the more you’re charged.
With PPC, there are monetary startup costs, but results are usually immediate. But with SEO, the costs are time-related.
[tweetthis]With #PPC, there are monetary startup costs, but results are usually immediate. With #SEO the costs are time-related.[/tweetthis]
It’s a slower process that requires a few months to begin to see results. For a startup company, it might seem like a no-brainer to choose SEO over PPC. Why not reduce upfront costs as much as possible?
If you’re looking to jumpstart your business, that logic can get you in trouble, and there’s a reason why. Let’s look at each more closely.
SEO At Its Best
SEO is an important component of any online marketing campaign. You want to build organic traffic that ranks highly in Google, Bing, and Yahoo. High rankings means your website shows up closer and closer to the first page of search engine results, which is the ultimate goal.
Both quality content and gaining links from more established websites help with your rankings for as long as those pages and links exist.
But it takes time to show up on the first page – there’s no way around that. It can take up to three months for search engines to even recognize a new website.
And rankings aren’t solely dependent on key phrases. Quality content, interlinking, and post shares also influence your website’s SERP position. It’s commonly assumed the Google ranking algorithm is made up of over 200 factors. But once you build momentum, traffic gradually increases, and search engines begin to trust your website.
This is why SEO works well for long-term marketing plans, not short-term plans.
Note that if you’d still like to take some Search Engine Optimization measures regarding your landing page, many landing page platforms will facilitate this process for you.
On Pagewiz, for example, you’ll only need to fill up some relevant landing page settings fields and you’ll be good to go.
Using PPC the Right Way
When you create a PPC campaign, it appears almost immediately. Your ads are front and center on the search results page, and you can track campaign activity in your AdWords or Bing Ads account. But they only appear for as long as your campaign lasts – essentially, how long you’re willing to keep paying for clicks. So the goal is to get the most out of your campaign from the start.
PPC campaigns are more affordable than most assume, and they’re not influenced by changes in organic search engine algorithms. Due to the nearly immediate feedback on ad performance, it’s an excellent idea to implement PPC ads into your SEM plan in the short-term.
Here are some benefits:
- Consumer targeting – attract ideal customers by targeting the demographics of your ideal customers. In many PPC advertising platforms, you can do this geographically, by age, gender, profession, device usage, and more. You also have the possibility of re-targeting potential customers who haven’t converted the first time around.
- Landing page promotions – if your company is promoting a new product or service and would like to generate leads within a specific time frame, PPC ads can link directly to that landing page for you to track conversions.
- Specialized key phrases – depending on the industry, general terms like “car insurance quotes” can often cost more per click than more specific terms like “Texas car insurance quotes for seniors.” When you want to rank for key terms specific to your business, a short-term PPC ad could be less expensive.
- PPC ads could help boost organic search rankings – In one Google study, low ranking organic traffic improved by 82% when the ranks were between 2 and 4. There was a 96% increase when organic results were even lower.
[tweetthis]Due to the immediate feedback on ad performance, it’s a great idea to implement PPC ads into your short-term SEM plan[/tweetthis]
How Can You Implement PPC without Busting Your Budget?
The best way to promote your website using PPC ads is to focus less on the number of times each ad is clicked and instead focus on the number of conversions you’ve gained per click.
- Set an advertising budget – You can set a daily minimum PPC budget. Whether that’s $4, $40, or $400, the amount should not overextend the marketing budget, or cost more than projected profits.
- Closely monitor conversion rates – You want to monitor closely whether a visitor actually orders your product or service, downloads your newsletter, or carries out the intended task in general. This should be a daily practice, not an occasional glimpse at your dashboard, otherwise, you’ll spend more than you originally intended.
- Target each campaign – The PPC learning curve is relatively high. Pace yourself by creating targeted campaigns that focus on one specific task, like gaining X number of email subscribers within a specific demographic. For added analysis, set up a Google Analytics account and monitor the URL for each campaign. This gives you even more insight into visitor behavior.
- Keep an eye on the competition – If larger companies incorporate general key terms into their PPC campaigns, it may be too costly for you to compete with them for that phrase. By adding an adjective or a more descriptive noun, you can often show up for a more specific term without the higher price tag.
- Write good copy – Your ad should not only be free of typos, but it should convince the visitor that it’s worth their time to visit your website. Good copy will persuade the visitor that you have a solution to their problem.
- Learn about Quality Score – When Google’s system believes that your landing page and related PPC campaign is relevant and useful to site visitors, it raises the quality score of keywords used for that ad. Quality Scores range from 1-10. Google’s system rewards you when users click the ad and finds what they’re looking for on your landing page.
PPC Case Study #1: Apparel Company
For one apparel company, PPC advertising increased revenues by 383%, which translated into $154,628 in annual profits. Over 20 ad campaigns were posted across all major paid search engines, including Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search, and Microsoft adCenter (now Bing Ads).
Conversions increased the same day that their PPC campaigns were started. The apparel company previously spent $2,500 per day on PPC ads. But testing and altering ads led to a return on investment within one month.
In this case, targeted strategy, flexibility, and posting ads on multiple platforms led to immediate PPC conversions.
PPC Case Study #2: Local Contractor
A local contractor hired a marketing company to help increase traffic to his website. Instead of linking PPC ads to his listing on a directory page, the goal was to send traffic to his own landing page using targeted keywords. They also incorporated SEO into their marketing plan by improving web pages.
Paid search led to a conversion rate of more than 14% while conversions from organic search reached 5.25%.
Combined, the local contractor experienced a 325% increase in traffic to his website, and his goal of obtaining qualified leads was achieved.
PPC-SEO Case Study #3: eCommerce
In an ecommerce case study, PPC ad campaigns accounted for a higher number of conversions than from SEO and organic search. Using the keyword phrase, “water alarm,” this company’s PPC ad that included the product price often appeared within the top three advertisements – and was often listed first. Its organic search ranking was typically between the 4th and 6th pages.
Over the course of six months (February 1, 2012-August 1, 2012), the company ran both the PPC ad and relied on organic search. Within that time, the PPC ad generated 586 unique visits to the website, and organic traffic led 552 visitors to the website. But the PPC ads led to more sales.
Twenty-five orders resulted from PPC traffic while only three orders were made through organic search, even though each method sent about the same amount of traffic to the ecommerce website.
PPC-SEO Case Study #4: Mortgage Brokering
In a case study involving a mortgage broker, PPC was infused into the marketing plans by a marketing firm that typically focused solely on SEO. The marketing firm, Polar Design, linked one of four landing pages to PPC campaigns.
With subtle differences in web copy, conversation rates varied for their mortgage broker client. With testing, they found that copy for “Combination 2” performed best and converted at a rate of 16.8%.
[tweetthis]Without monitoring & testing campaigns, the company wouldn’t have known which landing page would have worked at all.[/tweetthis]
Their worst performing copy combination converted at a rate of 8.72%. Without consistently monitoring and testing each campaign, the company would not have known which landing page would have worked at all.
Polar Design also found that using medium and long-tail keyword phrases cost less per click because these phrases generated less traffic. Creating a cost-effective campaign, for them, involved researching which keywords were most competitive and avoiding those that had been bid up by other companies in their industry.
PPC ads for this mortgage company ran for two months. Their highest converting ad received 383 clicks and generated 62 leads. It cost them $9.62 per lead. Their lowest performing ad cost them much more.. It only generated one lead from 137 clicks, with that one lead effectively costing them $113.81.
From this, Polar Design strongly suggests testing ad campaigns, copy, and keywords and phrases to increase conversion rates and decrease the cost per lead. From their experiment, they concluded that it was more cost effective to balance their use of PPC ads in the short-term and SEO for long-term marketing efforts.
PPC-SEO Case Study #5: Auto Parts
In another case study, sales from organic search and paid campaigns steadily increased over the course of thirteen months.
Within that time, organic sales increased over 30% while paid campaigns increased them by 68%, more than twice as much as organic search. Similarly, visits to the automotive website through organic search increased by 26%, but paid visits increased by 42%.
Although both forms of SEM increased sales, PPC campaigns resulted in more traffic and more targeted conversions.
But as this company points out, when you use both SEO and PPC, your SERP real estate becomes larger than your competitors. When you use keywords to rank for organic and paid search results, your website becomes more prominent, making it more visible to individuals searching for content you’re ranking for.
The more they see your website peppered across search results, the more likely they are to click and even trust your website more than your competitors.
[tweetthis]The more they see your website peppered across search results, the more likely they are to click and even trust it.[/tweetthis]
So, in this case, study, using both SEO and PPC led to more sales and SERP prominence.
SEO, PPC, or Both?
If you’re looking for immediate results, focus primarily on PPC ads and secondarily on SEO. Here are some key points that we covered:
- PPC requires a lot of testing and can be expensive if you don’t monitor conversions, but with a targeted plan, you can gain quick results. By setting a daily budget, you can avoid overspending if your marketing budget is modest.
- Use the same phrasing for both PPC ads and web pages to appear in search results, this raises your SERP real estate value.
- Similarly, remember that SEO and PPC feed off of one another. If a key phrase ranks well in SEO, it’ll likely perform well as a PPC campaign and vice versa.
- Lastly, consistently use PPC ad keywords on your landing page to earn a high-quality This way you’ll pay less for each keyword, and your ad will be positioned higher in search results.
Overall, you want to make the choice that works best for your company and product. Campaign success may vary by industry; company size, key terms used, and other less noticeable factors. Historically, though, successful search engine marketing will in some capacity involve both SEO and PPC.
Which SEM method has been more successful in your business, SEO or PPC?
Elna Cain is a professional writer living in Canada. She works closely with B2C and B2B businesses and has a background in marketing and psychology. She’s been featured on OptinMonster, Social Media Today, Blogging Wizard and is a Huffington Post contributor.