What is the ideal ad spend for your brand? Ideally, it would be zero because all of your traffic and leads would be organic. Some would call that a perfect world and unrealistic. However, smart use of data can drastically reduce PPC ad spend while also boosting SEO to levels where organic traffic is not only increased but refined according to audience.
The emphasis in an effective marketing strategy should not be on bidding for your own brand keywords against competitors. This is a defensive strategy. It’s also an increasingly outdated strategy – like trench warfare. Different companies dig their keyword trenches and face each other across the no-man’s land of the market without moving, adapting or significantly differentiating.
This is even truer as the personal data landscape changes. Google is planning to stop the use of third-party data and Apple has already acted in favor of its customers’ data privacy. Third-party data will soon be very limited. First-party data will become ever more relevant and tying it to optimized SEO will be the key to reducing ad spend – but only if your SEO your paid goals and your strategy are coordinated.
You already know that existing, loyal customers come directly to your website because they are familiar with the name and trust the product. It’s also highly possible that you receive a lot of organic traffic because your website is SEO optimized – not only with those valuable keywords that everyone is bidding on, but also with other content that your customers value. In other words, your audience skips over the ads in the search results and directly to your link lower down the same page.
This is a good situation to be in, but circumstances change. The market changes, seasons change, customers’ habits or expectations change, and new products become available. In such cases, strategic use of PPC ads may be necessary to respond and we’re back to the question of keyword bidding.
The logical solution is to use the long-tail keywords that draw loyal users to your website combined with the keywords related to the market changes you are responding to (for example, a new fashion trend or change in weather). This reduces the necessity to bid on the most-used keywords that your competitors are already seeking. In other words, you’re passing the optimized SEO of your own platforms to the PPC ads.
There’s also a feedback loop implied in this process. As you run your reconfigured PPC ads, the data you receive on their success helps you to modify and improve your SEO, which influences future PPC ads. Also, when your SEO is optimized, you can gather more first-party data for paid media campaigns. Your first-party data is therefore key to building your SEO strategy.
Conditions usually don’t stay the same. You may see a decline in traffic to your website or a fall-off in loyalty. Suddenly, the optimized SEO of your site is less effective. This could be because competitors have analyzed the content of your more successful site and copied its SEO techniques. It could equally be a change in the market that has not been registered in your SEO (or Google updating their algorithm.)
Has anything changed since you first created the SEO parameters for your website? It’s time to look again at sales patterns, hit rates, bounce, trends and visitor numbers across your platforms.. Examining your competitors’ efforts and social media can also reveal any changes in trends or alternative keywords that may have shifted the market.
This should not only be a digital effort. Feedback from customer service personnel, distribution and online chatter can also supply important information that perhaps isn’t being reflected in the way your brand represents itself.
While metrics like share of voice and SERP rankings provide some valuable insights, the primary goal of SEO should be to grow traffic that converts. Your PPC campaigns, too, are looking for conversions, whether sales or leads or engagement.
Organic search has a tremendous amount of influence on the effectiveness of other channels, as it is an incredible source of customer intent – information you need to plan your campaign and know which keywords you need to advertise your services/products. Improvements to organic search benefit a variety of other channels and elements of customer experience.
Today, almost 30% of ecommerce conversions from organic come from long-tail keywords – search terms that you can’t typically predict. However, you can use them once you see what keywords have led people to your site. In short, the stronger the technical foundation of your website, the better your chances of ranking – future-proofing one of your biggest channels.
The second part of solving the loyalty drop-off is expert and reliable analysis of the data. There is a huge amount of information and you need to view it in an actionable way. What is new? What has changed? Are you using the right keywords? Where is the focus? What are the new KPIs? Without this kind of detailed but clear analysis, it won’t be possible to retune your SEO and your PPC ads.
Let’s also remember that site structure and coherence also count as SEO and improve the search experience by removing confusion and friction for visitors as well. If your page is well-optimized, your ad campaign will probably deliver better results because it will be easier for customers to convert once they land on your site.
Moreover, you won’t be able to do the really smart thing and use your successful SEO strategy to power your PPC keywords. The language, the detail and the emphasis that attracts your target customer organically to your web content should also be used in your paid advertising. This makes for better brand consistency – and it works. Studies have further shown that organic results showing next to paid results increase the click-through rate of paid campaigns as customers see organic and paid in the same search-engine environment. Conversions through PPC campaigns are made easier when sites are SEO-optimized.
It should be clear by now that this is a three-part continuous process.
1) Use optimized SEO to boost organic traffic to your sites and other platforms.
2) Use that same SEO strategy to target PPC when necessary.
3) Constantly monitor SEO effectiveness so that you can see changes and respond by tweaking brand SEO and redirecting with PPC where necessary.
This is an approach that will save hundreds of dollars on keyword bidding and PPC ads that are not working as hard as they should because they are not sufficiently targeted and running in direct competition with very similar ads. It sounds simple enough, but the difficulty is in combining the relevant skills to pull all of this together.
For example, an agency can produce social media PPC ads for you, but they may not use your specific SEO fingerprint and won’t monitor the ongoing effectiveness and relevance of the data they use. Nor will they question the data as part of a larger strategic or brand vision.
An SEO agency, meanwhile, may provide you with tools to optimize your website according to keywords on the open market, but they won’t create the PPC ads. Also, these agencies may be using the same reporting platforms as your competitors or different platforms from the ones you’ve based your customer data on. They don’t see the biggest possible picture.
You could hire data analysts to drill into your CRM and provide you with a lot of graphs and numbers related to your business. Again, they are not responsible for the bigger strategic vision. They don’t create ads and they don’t handle SEO – they just process data. Nor will they notice changes in the market and update the CRM data accordingly unless they are working for you full time.
What’s clear is that you need all three specializations coordinated: PPC expertise, SEO expertise and data analytics expertise so that your brand is dynamic and responsive. This way, your website is SEO optimized to attract the maximum possible organic traffic and maintain loyalty, your PPC ads are made more effective by being in line with your SEO keyword strategy,
Bucksense provides this full-service, multi-channel option to maintaining and increasing digital success.