By Nathan Linnell
How does search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising relate to your quest to have an amazing night out at the hottest bar or club in town? And what friend should you make sure to bring along so that you will definitely have a night to remember? Well I won’t require you to have the patience of SEO, but instead I’ll give you the instant gratification of PPC.
Two friends, SEO and PPC are getting ready to head out on their quest to have an incredible time at the new local hotspot. They decide they will meet at the club since they live on opposite sides of town. As usual, PPC quickly gets ready and heads out the door. There is no style lost, however, in the quick process of getting ready. In fact PPC is looking quite flashy and really stands out from the crowd. PPC quickly finds a parking spot right next to the club and heads past the long line waiting to get in. As usual PPC is on the guest list and is ushered right inside.
SEO on the other hand takes a long time to get ready, but once ready looks every bit as impressive. After SEO finally makes it out the door, through the traffic heading downtown and eventually finding a parking spot far away from the club a new obstacle arises. SEO does not seem to be on the guest list and instead has to wait patiently in line. SEO could be upset and frustrated, but instead excitedly anticipates the fun night that hopefully is about to begin. An hour goes by, but eventually SEO is let through the doors and to the party inside.
Does this sound familiar to all you SEO and PPC experts? PPC is always the one that can be up and running in no time with a flashy ad and ranking in top positions for all the important keywords. PPC can slip right into the party and start generating sales in no time. SEO on the other hand has to be patient since you’re likely not going to be able to join the party on the first page of the SERPs right away. Instead it will take hard work and a lot of patience before you finally make your way in. That hard work and patience, however, can really pay off and potentially can be more cost effective than PPC in the long term. Buy anyways, back to the story.
Once SEO and PPC finally meet up a new set of issues arise. Neither of them can manage to get past the crowds and up to the bar to get drinks. To make matters worse, the cocktail waitresses seem to be ignoring them. Frustrated they decide they will instead mingle and see who they meet. They each go their separate ways, but after a while they both begin to get frustrated. While everyone seems to be out for attention tonight neither SEO nor PPC is having much luck. Both of them seem to be getting ignored or shot down more often than not which is quickly making the night a disappointment. Just then, however, an old friend who neither SEO nor PPC has seen in ages shows up. The old friends name is Web Analytics. SEO and PPC explain the frustration each is having with how the night is going and seem a bit upset as a smile comes across the face of Web Analytics.
Web Analytics explains that he can help turn the night into the type of party that SEO and PPC thought they were going to at the outset. He explains that PPC and SEO need to work together to have the night they envisioned and once they find out how best to play off each other then everything else will fall into place. Armed with their new advice they again try their luck. After a bit of experimenting with different tactics their luck starts to change. Suddenly they seem to be the center of attention with each generating their fair share of interest from almost everyone they come in contact with.
There is still one area, however, that SEO and PPC have yet to master and that is the ability to get a drink. Seeing that, Web Analytics sends over a cocktail waitress to SEO and PPC who are laughing and having a great time with a couple of new friends. After taking their order the cocktail waitress tells them that she will keep an eye on them and makes sure they are taken care of for the rest of the night.
While both SEO and PPC are now having an amazing time they both feel like it can still be taken to the next level. Just then Web Analytics reappears, but he is not alone this time. On one side he’s got the one person that PPC has had their eye on the entire night while on the other side SEO sees the one that they’ve been after. With PPC you can tell there are instant sparks and they immediately head out to the dance floor. SEO, however, is the type to take it real slow and so they go take a seat on the couches. It doesn’t take long, however, for the chemistry to build and soon they are having an amazing time as well.
With a smile on his face Web Analytics knows that SEO and PPC have learned an important lesson tonight. While they both can get into the party on their own and have a decent time, the night will not reach its full potential unless they work together and bring along their friend Web Analytics to show them how best to play off each other and eliminate the obstacles that present themselves along the way.
This experience that SEO and PPC had can be translated into the real world of SEO and PPC. SEO is a slow process that requires a lot of patience while building up rankings for the targeted keywords. The pages that visitors will be going to are often more content rich and so it can often be a slower process before a visitor actually makes a purchase. PPC on the other hand provides instant gratification. It’s quick to get going and quite easy to move into the top positions if you’re willing to pay the price. It’s generally flashier since you have full control over the marketing message and the landing page that a visitor goes to. It is generally more offer oriented and is designed to generate an immediate purchase.
All too often though SEO and PPC aren’t done in conjunction with each other. Each forges out on their own and often times can have success. But unless they are working together they are likely not reaching their full potential. That is where web analytics comes into play.
The web analyst needs to understand how SEO and PPC work together and find the optimal balance. It means nothing to rank #1 in the SERPs for a “key” search phrase if all you’re doing is sending crappy traffic that never converts. You need to know the types of keywords that do convert into sales or other site goals and refocus your efforts around those. Too often I see the excitement on people’s faces when they’ve finally achieved a goal of ranking on the first page of the SERPs and the site suddenly begins to see an increase in traffic. A high volume of traffic, however, does not necessarily translate into an increase in conversions of the site goals.
The web analyst should know the keywords that are working well for PPC and those that work well for SEO. If it works well for PPC then it’s probably worth trying for SEO purposes. The same holds true for keywords that are working well for SEO. If you have a set of keywords that you rank highly both organically and in PPC then there is another task that the web analyst needs to work on.
That task is finding the right position for the PPC ad based on where the site ranks organically. It may be that the #2 spot in PPC generates the highest return, but it could also be taking away sales that otherwise would be coming through organically. Understanding what position for PPC generates the highest overall (both organically and paid) return will allow your company to realize the greatest return.
That is just the beginning, however, but this would go on forever if I began getting into the importance of multivariate testing and the full analysis of user behavior for organic and paid visitors that should continually be taking place.
Instead I’ll hopefully be leaving you with an understanding that a truly integrated SEO and PPC effort requires more than just the SEO and PPC teams working together. It requires the web analytics team to also provide insights and advice to help take it to the next level. So while SEO and PPC can get into the party that is the first page of the SERPs, they really should enlist the help of Web Analytics to take the party up to the next level and really begin to drive the highest level of sales while delivering the best overall return.
This is an entry to Marketing Pilgrim’s 3rd Annual SEM Scholarship contest.