SEO & PPC: Working Together To Maximize Returns

SEO & PPC. Friends or foes? And which one really is more effective in an online marketing campaign? The truth is that they are not only friends but “coworkers” as well, and one is not necessarily more effective than the other. They serve different purposes but working together they create a synergy not possible as two independent parts.

PPC is great because you can be up and running in a matter of minutes. SEO, on the other hand, is more of a long term investment that takes some time and patience to finally start paying off. When you do get good organic placement through your SEO efforts though, the return on investment can be quite remarkable. Even when you do achieve top organic rankings, this still doesn’t mean you should just drop your PPC campaign altogether. There are some real advantages to maintaining both a strong PPC and SEO campaign together as outlined below.

1. The Best Keywords

PPC can be a great testing ground for potential keywords to target in your SEO campaign. You can run multiple PPC ads and target several different keyword phrases to see which ones not only drive traffic to your site, but actually convert. With this information, you can then target only the highest converting keywords in your SEO campaign. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to place a competitive keyword at the top of organic search results, so you want to be sure you’re targeting the best keywords possible before you embark on your SEO campaign or target new keywords in your current SEO campaign.

2. Higher Click Through Rates & Conversions

When sites eventually achieve top organic rankings, there is a tendency for the site owners to cut back on PPC spend because they feel they’ll get the click in the organic results anyways. However, studies show that the sum total is worth more than the individual parts. In other words, the additional benefits of having both PPC and organic placement more than pays for the PPC outlay.

As you can see in the example below, ranks #1 in organic search results for the search term “hotels”, but also pays for the top spot in the paid search results.

hotels   Google Search

When your paid and organic listings show up together on the same search result page, users tend to place more trust in your site, and they will be more inclined to click on your website. And when they do, there is a higher probability that they will actually convert when on your site because you have already gained a slight boost in credibility in their eyes. They already see you as an established presence in that particular market. can increase the click through rate to your website! Learn more by requesting a proposal!
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3. Build Brand Recognition & Trust

When your site appears in multiple places on a search result page, you will start to build brand recognition and gain consumers’ trust.

4. Drown Out The Competition

As you start to gain a strong presence in both organic and PPC search results, your competition will struggle to get any sizeable share of the pie, and when you eventually dominate both the organic and PPC market, you may very well eventually drown out your major online competitors.

5. More Data to Analyze

If you run organic and PPC campaigns simultaneously, you will have twice the amount of data to analyze, to make educated and insightful changes, and then capitalize on.

6. Repurpose The Best Ad Copy

As you study your PPC campaign, you can determine which ads result in the best click through rate. This will help you in writing the best title tags and meta descriptions for the pages you’re targeting with your SEO campaign. The great thing about PPC ads is that you can figure out pretty quickly what ad copy works best pretty quickly.

Keep in mind that title tags are an important search engine ranking factor, so be sure to keep your key keywords phrases for a page in the title tag. Meta descriptions on the other hand have no real influence on organic rankings, so feel free to change your meta descriptions to whatever ad copy works best.

7. Improve Adwords Quality Score

A page that has been properly optimized for SEO should help improve your Adwords Quality Score for your targeted pages. This will result in better PPC placement for your ads as well as lower cost per click.

8. Maintain Site Traffic

When you launch a new site, it may take a short time for search engines to put their trust back into your new content and site. A PPC campaign can help maintain traffic to your site during this time period and help build legitimacy to your site once again. Increasing PPC spend can also help fill in for lost traffic due to a Google algorithm changes that may cause your organic rankings to drop. There may also be times when the PPC bidding for certain keyword phrases just goes too high, and when this occurs, you can start putting more emphasis on your SEO efforts for these keyword phrases while cutting back on your PPC budget for these phrases.

9. Target Competitor’s Brand Terms

If you were solely running a SEO campaign, it would not make much sense to target a competitor’s brand terms because this would require creating content focused around your competitor’s brand which in turn could benefit your competitor. However, it can make sense to target a competitor’s brand in a PPC campaign.

Just be sure your product or service really is superior to your competitor’s because if a user searched out your competitor specifically, your competitor is likely already one up on you. You’re going to have to convince them that their initial thought was wrong and that you actually have the product or service they really want.

10. Combat Negative PR

Sometimes bad things happen to even good companies. Employees do stupid things. Cars have to be recalled because of bad parts. Machinery goes bad and causes accidents. A good example of this is with the Gulf Oil Spill. During this time, BP bought several PPC ads relating to the term “oil spill” in order to address the public directly instead of relying on the press. The PPC ads help fill in until SEO efforts can place your website in a better organic position, and then together, you can properly address bad press head on.

bp oil spill   Google Search


To run an effective search marketing campaign and truly maximize online exposure and returns, a site should have both a good SEO and PPC campaign in place that work together to benefit the overall marketing campaign. SEO and PPC each serve different purposes, but when used together, they create a synergy that is not possible as two separate units.

What other advantages do you see for having both a SEO and PPC campaign working together?

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  1. Jason says

    Yes it is true that you must have the adwords running to get the keywords which are converting into sales, otherwise for organic visits it is very hard these days to get exact keywords.

  2. Chris Mayhew says

    Great piece Shay. Many people will choose one of the other but, as you’ve shown here, using both effectively could really maximise the benefits you see and the return on the money time and effort that you will have invested. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mark Gadala-Maria says

    I’ve been preaching combining SEO + PPC for years now but most people think that they should throw their entire budget into one or the other, now I have some more firepower to defend my argument. Thanks Shay!

  4. Victoria says

    Great article – totally agree – it should be shown to all businessmen – its always better to combine and use all opportunities, than just one. And to add up, it’s also convenient to use PPC for quick evaluating of your experiments – so you can immediately see better or worse the conversion became.

    • Shay Wright says

      Very true Victoria. PPC is great for quick conversion experiments. On the other hand, there’s really nothing quick about SEO.

  5. Ofir Dankner says

    Shay excellent post, the combination of PPC is a required component when working on SEO. Unfortunately, some people (customers) are not always willing to understand why SEO works much better when it combined with PPC and often prefer to save Google AdWords costs.

    I enjoyed reading your post and also took some important points that will help me explain this to some of our customers.

  6. Stefan Martinez says

    Hi Shay,

    Love the article!

    Happy you wrote about PPC and SEO working so well together. Another advantage is that long tail keywords and good ad copy make great meta-tag descriptions.

    I would also recommend that people who are new to the paid search industry read up on it or outsource to a paid search specialist as PPC can be costly if it is not managed properly.


    Stefan Martinez

    • Shay Wright says

      Very true Stefan. There is a lot of strategy and analysis that goes into PPC. People who don’t really know all the ins and outs should either do a lot of studying first or outsource it to someone else.

  7. Christopher says

    Great topic to write on these days. More and more people are abandoning PPC because it’s been so competitive and has gotten super expensive. If done incorrectly it can drain your whole budget before you even get things rolling. But if done correctly, and balanced properly with SEO as you mentioned, it can turbo-charge your growth and catapult you to the top of your field. Tips on how to accomplish this without losing your shirt are always appreciated. Thank you Shay.

  8. Mike says

    We have a rather large client who is convinced that running branded terms on their PPC campaigns will have a negative impact on their SEO results. We have a few BMM campaigns that have been matching to some long tail brand variations which have driven crazy conversions. If only we could remove some of the negative brand related kws from the campaigns, I have no doubt that conversion rate would increase even further. They need to understand that you can’t just have a slice of the pie…you need the whole thing!

  9. Shay Wright says

    Great point George. Social media definitely plays an important role in search marketing these days. I was mainly focused on SEO & PPC for this article, I guess my next article could be entitled “SEO, PPC, and Social Media Working Together to Maximize Returns.”

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