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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, Hotels.com 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.
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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?