How SEO & PPC Can Work Together For Your Business

Michael Costin

March 17, 2021

Let me preface this article by saying: you’ve been lied to.

Yes, you.

If you’ve been listening to “experts” or consuming content that talks about choosing between SEO and PPC advertising, you’ve been misled.

But Michael, why would I spend money on both? Isn’t SEO meant to reduce my costs and get me the same results as PPC? Shouldn’t I use PPC only if I want to grow super fast?

Here’s the thing: one is not an alternative to other.

While you can choose to focus on one method, they work together perfectly. So today, I’m going to show you how SEO and PPC can work together to drive incredible results for your business.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

What Does SEO Do for Your Business?

Here’s how most people will explain the famed SEO that has been credited with everything from getting free leads, to conquering empires:

In reality, SEO might not require you to constantly throw money at Google to get results, but it does require effort and experts who know what they’re doing so that you can eventually get high-quality leads for less than you would’ve normally spent.

(And, in the interest of full transparency: cheap SEO is never cheap.)

In the grand marketing scheme of things, SEO helps your site get more organic traffic by increasing your authority and visibility.

Search engine optimisation is done through:

  • Valuable content (that targets the right search terms and satisfies searcher intent)
  • Website optimisation (so bots start loving your website, too, and rank it higher in the SERPs)
  • Links from authority websites (that act as a vote of confidence and show Google that you’re trustworthy)

SEO is perfect for reaching prospects who want to get more information and do their research.

Ultimately, SEO is a long-term investment that generates long-term results.

PPC, on the other hand…

Why We’ll Never Stop Loving PPC

Unlike SEO, you’ll have to pay for each click you get with PPC.

However, you control your presentation (i.e. your ads), who sees your ads, and you can fine-tune the details so you make the most of your budget.

In short: PPC offers more precise (and immediate) results.

Unfortunately, the traffic stops coming once your campaign ends. But if you play your cards right, it can increase your brand awareness and drive more branded visits because people will remember you.

PPC comes in a variety of flavours: from Google Ads (your garden-variety search ads, as well as the more exotic variants like Shopping and Discovery campaigns), to social media ads.

But the real magic happens when we make SEO and PPC play together…

How SEO and PPC Work Together

First, I want you to stop thinking of SEO and PPC in terms of “versus.” 

When they feed into each other, you’ll get more information, powerful insights, and better results:

Fine-Tune Your Keyword and Audience Targeting

The first way SEO and PPC can help you is by giving you a better understanding of the search terms your prospects use to find your business. In both SEO and PPC, you have to use keywords to reach the right people.

When you run Google Ads campaigns, you get a report from Google that shows you which keywords and queries generate sales.

Analysing your keyword effectiveness is easier with PPC.

With SEO, you will be able to see search terms that lead to your website in your Google Search Console. However, you can’t easily know which search terms have proven themselves to be profitable.

(It also takes a while for your SEO data to come in.)

And once you get your PPC keyword data, you can use it to optimise your content for SEO.

Instead of optimising for a variety of keywords you think “might work,” you’ll know which ones do.

PPC and SEO Maximise Your SERP Real Estate

I don’t know if now’s the right time to buy a house, but I do know that it’s always a good idea to occupy more real estate on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

When you pay for a PPC ad, it will appear above other search results. This is fairly straightforward, but the real magic happens when you add SEO:

A prospect sees your ad. If they scroll down (and your pages are organically ranking thanks to SEO), they’ll see you again.

Their impression?

It looks like this brand is all that the ads are making it out to be!

You’ll be getting more exposure if you use both SEO and PPC.

Your prospects won’t see you just once. Every new view improves your odds of getting a click from them. That translates to more sales and improved brand awareness (which drives more sales in return).

It’s a win-win.

Additionally, with new ad formats like Shopping tab ads and Google Discovery ads, you’ll be able to provide different types of content to your audience members. And if they see you everywhere, they’ll perceive you as more trustworthy and established in your target market.

Learning Across Channels

In addition to keyword information, using both SEO and PPC helps you learn across channels. If you thought you understood your audience’s shopping habits and behavioural patterns before, you’re in for a treat!

SEO teaches you what your audience needs to know before they make a purchasing decision.

PPC, on the other hand, teaches you what makes your audience convert.

If you know what works for your SEO prospects, you can integrate it into your ad copy, and vice versa. Your PPC data will show you what kind of offers resonate with audience members who are most likely to convert, so you can use that to create incredible content and boost your SEO results, as well.

Again, PPC results are immediate, and there’s nothing like timely data!

If you’re selling physical products, Google Shopping will display your listings organically. So when you start a PPC campaign, your ad can link to your listing. The searcher doesn’t even have to leave Google to learn more about your product and purchase it.

You can learn plenty from social media, as well.

Platforms like Facebook offer a level of granularity that Google currently isn’t able to offer (but I’m keeping an eye on interest-based targeting).

If Facebook tells you that there’s a correlation between people who want to buy the zebra-striped socks you sell and yoga, well… It’s an avenue worth exploring, and it could help you fine-tune your audience targeting in the future.

The Art of the Branded Keyword

Branded search terms (using your business name as a keyword) are normally inexpensive and efficient.

Yes, someone who looks up your brand on Google will see your organic results. However, you can’t control which content Google will choose to show if you only use SEO.

But if you run a branded PPC campaign, you’ll be able to provide the exact offers your audience is looking for when they’re searching for your brand name.

Instead of letting Google direct them to your homepage (and adding more friction because you’re making them go through your website to find the right information), you can serve them with an ad that anticipates their intent.

Branded keywords can also be used to minimise negative press. I hope it won’t ever come to that, but if it does – you know what to do.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Combining SEO and PPC stops you from going all in with just one channel, and putting your marketing results at risk.

Google is notorious for algorithm changes. While this is nothing new, and agencies like ours adapt easily, if you’re managing your SEO on your own, you might be thrown for a loop whenever there’s a new change.

Your results might be affected. Instead of ranking in the first spot, you might find your pages ranking in the fifth or even (God forbid) demoted to the second page, which is the best place to hide a dead body.

If that happens, you’ll see a decline in organic traffic.

Your sales will go down.

On the other hand, if you also use PPC, you’ll be able to compensate the organic loss with paid ads until you improve your organic ranking.

Similarly, if you only use PPC advertising, the rush hour stops as soon as you stop paying. If you haven’t been optimising your site for organic placements, you’ll have nothing to show for all your effort – no matter how much your audience loves your products.  

Diversify your strategy, and you won’t have to worry!

SEO and PPC Increase Your Brand Awareness

PPC puts you in front of people. SEO helps you close the deal.

If you’re running a new business and you don’t have the authority needed to rank highly, PPC puts you in front of your audience.

When someone clicks on your ad, they’ll explore your offer. If they bounce, they’ll still remember you. They’ll organically come back to your website later (or you can retarget them), which is where SEO will help.

If you’re only using SEO, it’s going to be very lonely. It takes a while for your results to come in, and no one will be seeing your brand in the meantime.

Warm up Leads with Retargeting

Finally, there is another way you can use SEO and PPC: retargeting (i.e. remarketing).

Retargeting allows you to reach people who visited your website in the past. No, they’re not lost if they didn’t convert on sight. Not if you’ve got the various ad platform tracking/pixels installed.

Let’s say John visited your site a month ago, but he didn’t convert. You simply create a remarketing campaign through Google Ads, come up with a great offer, and display it to John (and other people like him).

Then, he remembers your brand, and if your offer resonates with him, you’ve got yourself a successfully converted customer that you thought you’d lost.

SEO and PPC Go Together Like Coffee & Cream

From occupying more search real estate, to diversifying your advertising mix, there are plenty of benefits to using both SEO and PPC.

So if you want to grow fast and sustain your incredible sales figures, it’s time to create the perfect strategy.

Your business deserves it!

About Michael Costin

Michael is the co-founder at Local Digital. He has a decade of experience in the digital marketing space, and is a big enough nerd that he's well practised in all the common digital marketing channels, from SEO to copywriting, paid social to analytics and tracking.