How to Integrate SEO and PPC
Integrating your PPC and SEO means getting both teams to work closely together. The potential results make it a great opportunity for any business. Achieving PPC and SEO synergy doesn’t mean that both need to be run out by the same team or agency. We’ve built strong integration for our clients in a wide variety of working situations. But, integrating the two does require you to set up a joint strategy, reporting and use of automation to get the best results.
Ultimately, your PPC team can help your SEO in a number of ways, and your SEO team can improve your PPC results. In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to get your PPC and SEO to work together.
We’ve also produced a template for an integrated SEO and PPC dashboard. You can use this to action everything within this guide, and more.
Why integrate your SEO and PPC?
We should start by looking at some of the tangible benefits PPC and SEO synergy can drive. You know it’s important. But, collaboration requires buy-in. The first step is selling this into your PPC team, your SEO team, and your wider business.
The best evidence we can give you is a tangible example of what this did for one of our clients. The client was a health and nutritional information website. They had a lot of content, in particular around recipes and food guides. Because they had a fairly complex product, their audience needed educating first, before getting the ask to subscribe. It was therefore clear that both PPC and SEO had a significant role to play. We spotted clear opportunities to improve results at a lower cost by truly integrating the two.
The campaign achieved a 144% increase in CVRs and a 117% growth in new customers from Search year-on-year. These even bucked the trend in this increasingly competitive market. Whilst total search volume fell by 17%, we grew users by 48%. We also made significant savings to PPC by clearly demarcating keyword targets.
Ultimately, the potential benefits for both channels lie with direct improvements in conversion rates, click-through rates, and reducing wasted spend.
This guide shares a lot of the strategies that we used to get these results.
How do SEO and PPC work together?
SEO and PPC are closely intertwined. In fact, a large number of your customers won’t know the difference at all. The overlaps are therefore large.
Their roles differ enormously based on the business. But, there are some very generalised roles that SEO and PPC are traditionally perceived to have. It is very important to note, however, that these are by no means always true:
- SEO typically targets more upper-funnel, longer-tail and informational terms (“how to do this”, “where to find that”). PPC is predominantly used for more commercial keywords (“buy this”).
- SEO is a longer-term strategy. It takes time to get results. PPC, on the other hand, you can broadly turn on and off like a tap. It drives immediate results. But the results stop the moment you stop paying for those clicks.
Their traditional KPIs reflect these roles. The core KPIs for SEO are generally framed around traffic and visibility. For PPC, the focus is usually very much on direct conversions.
Guide to integrating SEO and PPC
We’ve split this guide into three sections based on three key themes. Data sharing, Optimisation and Strategy.
You can jump through to each section using the links below:
Template - PPC and SEO Synergy Dashboard
1. Merge data to capitalise on emerging trends
Integrating your PPC and SEO data sources is crucial to enabling the two to work together. One united view of the search page allows you to do a number of things.
Google Search Console’s 48 hour time lag in displaying data makes Google’s Ads’ real-time data incredibly useful for SEOs. This lets SEO’s leap on emerging trends much more immediately using Paid Search’s data.
It also reduces the risk of trends slipping between the cracks. If you lack coverage on one channel, the other may pick it up. Or, a trend that might look small on both channels in isolation may prove to be a heavy hitter when grouped together.
Google’s Paid/Organic Report is a great way to link the two. This allows you to build reports ranging.
For example, you can use this to compare brand traffic on PPC vs SEO. Any major difference between the two suggests one channel might have an issue with coverage. Here, impressions to both channels are rising by around 30%, which is a positive sign.
Once you’ve set up the paid/organic report, you can also create quick visualisations to grab insights.
For example, below we’ve created a scatter to highlight opportunities. Impressions between the two should ideally be in a diagonal, given equal search volume. Although, not all SEO impressions represent a viable opportunity on PPC. So, you may have consciously chosen to stick away from them.
Each bubble is a collection of terms segmented by the PPC ad group they appear in. Any bubbles in the top left would be terms that PPC isn’t picking up on enough. Whilst any in the bottom right represent opportunities for SEO.
Having an overview of the search page as a whole is a necessary start to integrating SEO and PPC.
2. Use PPC data to add revenue values to SEO
Whereas PPC provides revenue tracking on a keyword by keyword basis, SEO cannot see revenue by keyword.
But, you can use PPC data to plug this gap.
Set up a report to plug conversion rates and average order values into your SEO reports to estimate revenue.
This will give you some easy and profitable SEO keywords to focus efforts on. For example, keywords with a conversion rate above 5%, search volume above 5,000, and currently in positions 4-10.
You could also use conversion rates from PPC at a landing page level. This will be slightly less accurate, as not all terms leading to the same landing page from PPC will carry the same purchase intent. But, it is a worthy alternative if you don’t have enough data through each PPC keyword.
Or, if you have even less data available, you could aggregate conversion metrics at a category level from PPC, and use this to forecast.
Analyse how closely your new revenue estimates match up to reality and adjust accordingly.
Not only will this approach give you quick insights, it will also help you to forecast and strategize your SEO.
3. Forecast using data from both channels
The use of this joint data is powerful for producing accurate and useful forecasting.
Using both SEO and PPC data gives you a better grip of search volumes and seasonality.
On both channels, there are a large number of constantly changing factors impacting visibility.
- PPC - Impressions data is distorted from being an accurate representation of search volume by a number of factors. Examples include budget limitations, new entrants to the market, dynamic bidding and changing business priorities.
- SEO - Algorithm updates and competitor changes are major clouding factors.
By combining the data from both channels, you can counteract some of these obfuscating factors.
Sharing other tools will also help both teams to forecast. Your PPC team should give your SEO’s access to Google Keyword Planner
In order to help with SEO forecasting, you can also use PPC to ‘dip your toe in the water’ before investing heavily in SEO. This leads us to our next tip.
4. Use PPC to get rapid feedback for SEO
You can use PPC as an efficient guinea pig for SEO.
Before launching major SEO changes, use PPC to understand the potential impact.
For example, if you’re considering investing SEO time into building a whole new area of content, you could launch a simple version on PPC first.
You could build a simple landing page, and launch PPC for the core terms you would like to target with organic. This can help you to measure more precisely the search volumes, conversion rates and impact of these pages before you invest SEO and CRO time towards it.
Say you are a hat maker, for example, and you’re considering building a whole new section dedicated to hat styling tips. You could write a quick article on it, then launch PPC ads for terms such as “how to wear a hat casually”, “casual hats” etc. If early signs from PPC are good, you can start to invest more heavily in building out the content more widely.
The same might even be true vice versa. Analysing existing organic traffic can provide good indicators of the potential value of PPC. For example, by looking at Bing organic traffic relative to Google organic traffic you can get an idea of the potential volume and performance from Bing Ads.
The long-term nature of SEO also enforces a large gap between optimisation and feedback. Use PPC to speed up this feedback loop.
A major use-case of this is in new landing pages.
Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) are PPC campaigns that use a page's SEO signals to select their keyword targets. When launching an important new page, run a temporary DSA campaign on that particular page.
From the keywords your DSA campaign targets, you can tell immediately what keywords Google thinks it is optimised for. Which are working well, and which have search volume. Make your adjustments for SEO, and take a look again. Immediate feedback to make strong optimisations right at the start of a page’s SEO lifetime.
5. Use your SEO team to improve PPC quality scores
‘Quality score’ is a metric assigned by Google to PPC keywords to display the estimated user experience. It has a direct impact on how much you pay for each click. The better the user experience, the lower the cost-per-click on PPC.
Quality score is informed by three main factors: Ad relevance, Expected Click Through Rate, and Landing Page Experience.
The first two are informed by the ad copy and heavily intertwined. The final factor, Landing Page Experience, therefore has a major impact on quality score.
Google Do not share the actual factors impacting landing page experience. But, like other things, we can infer and test.
If that name sounds familiar to SEOs, it’s because this metric is almost entirely based on SEO Metrics.
- Page speed and core web vitals
- The contextual relevance of the page to the ad- i.e. it is organically optimised for the PPC keywords
- Generally optimised for SEO - the page answers the searcher's intent and gives them what they are looking for.
We built technology to audit this within our PPC audit tool. We assign every ad group a landing page ‘Site Relevance Score’ based on the page content and how well it matches to search terms coming through that ad group.
Below you can see a visualisation that highlights this. The higher the bulge, the greater the average match score. The keywords that have an ‘Above average’ landing page experience unsurprisingly have the highest bulge of all.
By making targeted improvements to the SEO of high volume PPC landing pages, we can improve the Quality Scores and reduce the costs for our clients.
We also shared some other tips on how to improve your quality scores in our guide.
6. Automate your PPC investment in the areas that matter
PPC and SEO work best when they are working as a tag team on the search page.
In some circumstances, you only need one of them to show to get the action you need.
This might be true on brand terms, for example, if you have no competitor ads being placed on your brand. In this case, SEO alone might suffice, assuming you dominate the top of page 1.
For some, no matter how valuable the terms might be to you, achieving position 1 with SEO might be a pipe dream. Clearly highlighting these terms for your PPC teams will be the key to operating here.
For some businesses, you might maximise returns by only placing PPC on terms where you’re not ranking highly organically.
For others, you’ll maximise your returns with both PPC and SEO live. Even brand searches can often benefit from having both live on the page, even without competition.
A clear example where both will likely play their part is product searches. Even if you were to hit position 1 with SEO, there will be a large number of aesthetically pleasing PPC ads above you.
For example, the search page for [dresses] shows the organic ad only just showing above the fold.
The reality is likely to lie somewhere between the two. Test what works for you with A/B split testing. Trial different variations to identify where you maximise revenue
Once you’ve tested different variations, you can start to automate this. We’ve built technology that pauses and re-enables PPC ads based on certain conditions. For example, if our SEO is ranking in position 3 or above.
For one client, we tied our bidding into our SEO position. If our organic was doing well, we lowered our bids, and vice-versa. You can see the impact of this on average positions below.
7. Run joint testing
Alongside testing new opportunities on both channels, you should also be sharing your day-to-day tests.
Joint copy testing is also really important.
PPC headlines and descriptions share the same aims and general appearance as SEO title tags and meta-descriptions. There’s very little reason why copy that works for one won’t work for the other.
PPC, unlike SEO, has the ability to test granular copy changes at scale for both Click-through-rate and revenue. So, share your copy learnings with the SEO team. Set up a shared ad copy testing dashboard.
You’ll likely want a little variance between the two copies. This lets you attract the widest range of people: What works for someone might not work for another. But, you should always be utilising ad copy that has been proven in battle.
8. Use PPC and Paid Media to launch content
You can use PPC and paid media to support new SEO content.
Driving traffic using paid media can help ranking in a number of ways:
- The greater the traffic to a page, the more likely you are to have people linking to that page naturally, growing its authority.
- Posts and shares on Social Media are likely to have a small indirect impact on ranking. If you sponsor your post to reach more people, you increase the chances that it will be shared more widely.
The key to success here is in the coordination between your teams. With ad fatigue, such an issue for paid social in particular, fresh creative and CTAs can even be beneficial for channel performance if applied correctly. We don’t just mean boosting the organic posts.
As with everything, test the impact of this and adjust your budgets and strategy accordingly.
You should also be selective with your targets. Don’t necessarily promote everything. Focus on the content that you’ve put real effort into, and which you know is going to be competitive on the search page.
9. Strategise together, not in isolation
SEO and PPC strategy should be produced in tandem and with full visibility over the other's activity.
Sharing useful data between teams is vital to this, as we covered in tips 1 to 4.
Set up regular search strategy and innovation sessions involving both teams. Pick the core areas of focus by both teams.
For example, can SEO pick up some of the longer tail terms that aren’t profitable for PPC?
Are there any bits of work that either is doing which can save the other some time? Keyword research is an example of a time-consuming task that can be shared.
You could even suggest bold new approaches. You might decide to trial only using PPC for retargeting campaigns on core commercial keywords.
If your product ads are highly successful, can your SEO team target the free listings here? Is this even an opportunity for you?
This guide covers a lot of the broader tips for making the channels work together. But, for every team, there will be unique areas for innovation.
10. Set targets for the Search Page as a whole
One of the biggest obstacles in PPC and SEO integration is overcoming the siloed ways of thinking and analysing. This is true even within channels: Shopping and text ads are often evaluated with scant thought of how they operate together.
Both of your teams should be working on a search page basis. The user doesn’t see a distinction, and neither should you.
Consider how best you can target the search page as a whole.
This can be an issue if your PPC and SEO teams have entirely separate targets, or if they are run by different agencies, for example.
Tying agency fees within Paid Media to the media spend is one of the biggest causes of this disconnect. Quite often, it is better for a business not to bid on certain terms, and you should incentivise your agency to spot these.
Setting your internal and external targets and OKRs as achieving sustainable success on the search page will go a long way to incentivizing the two teams to work together.
Template - PPC and SEO Synergy Dashboard
We’ve built a dashboard to help you to action everything within this guide. This is pictured below
This is available to all members of Ayima Insights Club. You can join Ayima Insights Club for free to get access to this template, as well as many others like it.
We build integrated SEO and PPC campaigns for a number of our clients. Our SEO and PPC teams look to drive integration with the other regardless of whether it is handled by our clients in-house, or by an external agency.
If you would like support and advice or dedicated experts to drive your campaigns to the best they can be, we’re happy to help.
Our experts are on hand if you’d like a more in-depth personal analysis or a bespoke strategy. Get in touch with the team here; we’d love to hear from you.