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When to use PPC to Augment SEO

While one should never see PPC as a substitute for SEO, a paid search campaign can certainly augment your organic search efforts. Ultimately, it’s your call how much you want to pay for traffic, but I'd like to highlight some aspects of PPC that you may not have considered.

I often get asked at my seminars if PPC is better than SEO.

And when that happens, I can feel some uneasy shuffling of feet in the room.

“What?” “You mean I have to choose which is best between SEO and PPC?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding “NO”. As an online marketer, imagine how I would feel if I had to make a choice like that! It’d be like asking me to choose my favourite child!

Both SEO and PPC have their own strengths and weaknesses, and our work at LeadGeneratorsDigital has always been about implementing the best mix of the two in a considered and integrated approach to ensure that the two fully complement each other – each picking up the slack where the other may lag.

However, while the trend is towards SEO and, by extension, Content Marketing, we should not forget our PPC friend as it can be, and still is, an incredibly useful weapon in our marketing arsenal. Here are my suggestions on how and when best to use it.

Frank Orman discusses when to use #PPC to augment #SEO. Click To Tweet


Quick Off the Draw

PPC is fast: as soon as you turn on a campaign, your ads are on display.

This is important to note, as SEO is the exact opposite. It can take many months and, for more competitive phrases even longer, to start achieving some decent ranking improvements in the natural rankings.

As PPC is so fast to set up and implement, it gives you some very powerful advantages:



The first is the ability to use PPC as your test ground.

We have many clients who wish to test their new website, a new product, new sales copy etc. to see if it converts better.

There are so many things that one could and should test, and a short burst of PPC traffic is usually perfect to help us get quick answers. It allows us to see what is working and what isn’t before making the larger, more long term marketing investment decisions, such as SEO.

Therefore, using PPC to test first, and then invest in SEO for the more successful elements of a PPC trial, often makes much more sense, both from a marketing and financial point of view.


Seasonality and Special Offers

The speed of going live with PPC is also perfect for our clients who are looking for quick and immediate exposure for last-minute offers, Valentine’s offers, Christmas offers, or anything else that needs quick market entry.

For these campaigns too, we are able to set up effective exposure opportunities quickly and for any defined length of time.

An example: one of our clients called us one morning to tell us that a documentary had been aired on the BBC the previous night, promoting a specific type of nature holiday that his company also offered. With PPC, we were able to get our client high up in Google’s search results that same day to make sure that he was able to profitably harvest any interest in the specific type of holiday activity that was promoted in the documentary.


Last Minute Clearance Sales

Another way we take advantage of the immediacy of PPC is for last-minute stock clearance.

For the travel industry, this is particularly important to sell remaining seats on an imminent tour. Messages such as “3 places remaining” targeted at the right traffic can be very powerful for generating those last few sales and we have found this strategy to be extremely successful, with fast, quantifiable results.

So, while SEO is great for the more stable, long term, high traffic phrases, PPC is more flexible for smaller, quick response campaigns.


Control, Control and Control

For the control freak in us all, PPC is pure heaven.

When running a PPC campaign for our clients, we have amazing control of when to be exposed (we can control what times of day we wish to be live), who we want to talk to (by choosing the right key phrases), how much we want to spend (we can control daily spend even at certain times of the day) and what we want to say (by having different messages to different groups of people).

All this can be documented and analysed to help our clients make better marketing decisions.

Furthermore, as Google continues to block more advertising data in SEO (such as referring key phrases), we often use PPC data to extrapolate which key phrases are best to invest in.


Budget Reduction

PPC can actually help reduce overall online marketing spend.

For many of our clients, we have too many good key phrase opportunities for good traffic generation to their website. However, as SEO is such a long term investment (which makes it a profitable yet expensive one), it often makes a lot of sense to think in terms of an Integrated Search Marketing approach by selecting only a handful of the most important phrases for Search Engine Optimisation (usually the more generic ones) and augmenting traffic for the long-tail phrases with cheaper Pay Per Click traffic.

By creating a good mix of the two, we can help our clients reduce their total traffic generation costs.


Traffic Top Up

This is a much overlooked benefit that we have used for our clients rather successfully for quite a while already.

It is no secret that Google is slowly on the wane and we are all seeing smaller volumes of traffic being generated by the search giant. For this article, I don’t want to look into the why’s and how’s or into any crystal balls, but I do want to stress that, as search traffic levels slowly diminish over time, we should be looking at other sources of traffic (corporate blogging, social media etc).

Mind you, I am not for a minute suggesting to replace search. On the contrary – if the name of the game is for us all to compete more for an ever diminishing pie, then PPC can be one of the great ways of topping up SEO traffic!


A Kaleidoscope of Features

One thing I love about Google is that they are a nonstop Energizer Bunny of innovation and experimentation, which has resulted in a host of superb ideas and options for optimisation of PPC traffic and getting more exposure opportunities.

Their huge range of ad extensions and management options – call extensions, rich snippets (star rating options, physical address features, etc.), a variety of remarketing opportunities, AdSense, banner advertising – is like a sweet shop of tools, and we have found that a different mix works for each client. Moreover, Google’s innovations give us huge amounts of useful data that can help us improve user experience and generate more site conversions from the websites of our clients.

If you would like to find out more about the different kinds of traffic generation opportunities that we can set up and manage for your business, please get in touch for a chat.




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