Julian Connors – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Fri, 27 Jan 2017 20:04:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Do organic keyword rankings matter anymore? /organic-keyword-rankings-matter-anymore-267885 Thu, 26 Jan 2017 16:58:12 +0000 http:/?p=267885 With all the ways search engine results pages have evolved over the years, columnist Julian Connors explores the question of whether SEO is still a wise investment.

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High keyword rankings are the most sought-after achievement in the world of search engine optimization (SEO). Small businesses and brands alike strive to obtain the first organic listing in search results because of the lucrative traffic and lead opportunities that are associated with this position.

But with the evolution of paid advertising and expansion of universal search, as well as Google’s continuous efforts to provide consumers with content that resolves their demands directly in search results, the opportunities attached to traditional keyword rankings are diminishing at an alarming rate.

In today’s search landscape, SEOs and digital marketing specialists have to consider whether it’s worth the amount of time and resources it takes to achieve premier organic rankings, considering the click-through rates (CTR) associated with organic rankings that are positioned under PLAs, local results and other forms of content.

Keyword rankings aren’t the only way to connect to online customers

There was a time not too long ago when achieving the first organic position on Google was one of the only ways to attract new online customers to a website without having to invest in paid advertising or e-mail marketing.

Ten years ago, the world was just warming up to the power of social media and its influence on the World Wide Web. Back then, most consumers were just starting to become aware of YouTube’s marketing power, Facebook was starting to open itself up to audiences outside of college students, and blogging was just starting to become mainstream, as everyone from CNN to Mashable began investing in new, niche content in the form of top lists and how-to articles.

Because of this boom in social connectivity, businesses and brands suddenly had access to free channels that were viable for attracting new business to their websites.

In 2017, there are thousands of social media platforms to join, millions of user-generated content forums, and approximately 320 million blogs around the world (up from 260 million in 2015).

Today, it’s rare to find a local business or brand that isn’t connected to an established directory host like Yelp or TripAdvisor, whose own online credibility is so impressive that it allows their less authoritative clients to rank well within organic results.

New niche environments allow businesses to focus on conversions, not site traffic

Connect With New Online Customers

When companies and brands were only able to connect with new customers through organic rankings, it made sense to invest a significant amount of time and resources to build thousands of links and cram keywords into a particular website to increase visibility.

Now that there are thousands of free channels that cater to niche demographics with specific interests, it’s easier than ever for brands to identify relevant environments that can be targeted for conversions. The online landscape of today allows businesses and brands to focus on maximizing qualified conversions, rather than trying to gain as much traffic as possible with the hopes that a particular portion is going to convert into a sale.

One of the problems with keyword rankings is that any consumer can click through to a website and immediately leave because the title tag and meta description didn’t align with the content of its associated landing page. Ranking first on Google does not mean that every visitor is going to turn into a paying customer because of how limited keywords are for understanding granular details associated with online consumers.

Social media and other niche online communities trump the value of keyword rankings because they serve as natural environments for like-minded users with specific interests to hang out in, consuming new forms of hyper-focused content that keep them returning.

Because of how easy it is today for businesses to build strong social media followings, basic engagement can improve everything from brand awareness and online reputation to traffic and revenue. Keyword rankings lack the power of social media because they are not proactive means of engagement, and they don’t necessarily connect brands with the type of qualified traffic that exists and is readily available in communities like Reddit or Instagram.

Google is crushing the desire to achieve premier keyword rankings

It’s always important to keep in mind that Google is a business; they are not just a convenient means for finding information or purchasing products.

Recognizing that Google is a business that competes in a free market where consumers have options, it is their goal to become an all-inclusive destination that provides an experience that is so fulfilling, it keeps consumers returning to their search engine.

Local results bury traditional rankings

Local Results Bury Traditional Keyword Rankings

Google’s focus on providing content that displays local options for consumers to consider has diminished the power of premier keyword rankings for some industries which were appearing at the very top of search listings, only to now be buried beneath the fold.

Sponsored ads blend with organic results

Product listing ads and the inclusion of a fourth paid search ad for certain highly commercial queries have pushed organic results down the page even further, which significantly reduces the CTR of each organic position.

Considering that the first organic position on Google commanded a 31 percent CTR in 2014 and the fourth position garnered a 7 percent CTR, it’s clear that today’s blended search results pages may render top organic results that are not nearly as powerful for driving site traffic as they used to be.

Free products, direct answers & featured snippets diminish consumers’ need to engage in site content

Google Buries Traditional Rankings With Free Products and Services

The ability for Google to resolve consumer demands without having to enter a particular website continues to increase, as there are more free products, definitions and featured snippets appearing every day.

Informational websites that depend on attracting a tremendous amount of traffic in order to maintain their ad rates are at the mercy of featured snippets, which provide users with immediate answers whenever they search with specific questions. Featured snippets also push traditional rankings below the fold, which may negatively affect CTR.

Why keyword rankings are still important for success

Although all of the points made against the effort it takes to build premier keyword rankings are valid, it is still important for businesses and brands to actively strive for premier organic rankings.

Despite diminished visibility and CTR within particular types of search listings, organic rankings remain one of the most powerful entrances for brands to connect with new customers.

SEOs and digital marketing specialists can maximize their traffic and conversion opportunities through keyword rankings by creating quality content around niche concepts and phrases that their target audience uses or searches for. This allows brands to increase their monthly traffic and receive qualified conversions based on the type of consumer research that guides their content development efforts.

Like anything else with digital marketing, the formula for achieving success is to maintain a campaign that combines social media, paid advertising, SEO and other relevant channels.

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What you’re missing with SEO that will make a world of difference /youre-missing-seo-will-make-world-difference-266204 Thu, 29 Dec 2016 14:14:59 +0000 http:/?p=266204 While long-term efforts are SEO mainstays, contributor Julian Connors suggests more short-term reactive strategies can also have significant rankings impact.

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There are two approaches to take when it comes to developing new digital marketing or online reputation strategies.

The first approach sees marketers and SEO strategists creating proactive campaigns that push content to consumers with the intention of soliciting immediate reactions.

The second method is considered to be responsive, where marketers create content that capitalizes on a particular concept or event to improve consumer awareness of their brand and its offering.

An example of responsive marketing is when solar energy companies distribute branded press releases when new tax incentives are approved by federal or state governments.

Proactive and reactive approaches to SEO

The vast majority of SEO strategists’ efforts are going to fall into the active position since they are always reviewing upcoming trends to determine how to maximize opportunities months in advance.

However, there are particular opportunities that allow strategists to combine both marketing approaches to improve brand awareness and solicit consumer reaction.

Consider these opportunities when creating a new SEO initiative.

1. Capitalize on internal events

If your company is on the verge of releasing a new product or service, you’re about to hire a well-known executive from a competing brand, or you’re expanding into new emerging markets, make sure you let the world know about it!

Smaller to mid-size businesses tend to keep these pivotal points of their history quiet, not realizing they are missing out on the opportunity to increase brand awareness, which would generate more traffic on their website.

Notable internal events are excellent opportunities to submit optimized press releases that have the potential to spark stories by local or national news outlets. (Keep in mind that Google considers some press release distribution methods to be link schemes, which are grounds for a penalty or removal from search results.)

When this happens, your company’s online presence is awarded more traffic from new potential customers/clients, a spike in new backlinks that come from reputable sources and an influx of consumer citations.

2. Turn internal events into guest author opportunities

If one or more of your internal events are capturing significant attention, you may be able to use this as a means of improving your brand’s credibility within your industry.

This type of positioning creates opportunities to author content for notable brands and publications that cater to similar audiences. Every piece of content your company executives contribute to industry publications can help build your organic authority, as it gives you a chance to improve referral traffic from relevant third-party sources, while also adding more links to your portfolio.

If you choose to follow through with this opportunity, make sure that you are only working with other industry authorities who have significant organic equity in the markets where your business operates. Working with low-authority sources or social media influencers who cater to foreign audiences will not lead to any organic or transactional growth.

3. Get in front of a new, interesting subject

A quick search for any concept on the internet will show you how hard it is to create original content.

There are millions of content creators throughout the world who are developing lists, how-to guides, buyer guides, white papers and other forms of content that ultimately offer duplicative information on a particular topic.

Coming up with unique ways to present information or being the first to expose new concepts can be extremely beneficial for improving your organic authority, as you will have a chance to:

  • improve brand awareness.
  • attract new potential customers.
  • increase your organic visibility.
  • improve your online reputation and industry authority.
  • acquire new, meaningful backlinks.

4. Build content around keywords that your competitors are missing

Keyword research continues to change based on the ongoing development of search algorithms. However, there are opportunities for brands to capitalize on emerging keywords that their competitors are missing out on.

Use tools like Soovle and Google Keyword Planner to continuously research new keywords that your consumers are using when searching for products or services your brand offers.

Ideally, you can uncover keywords that have significant search volume and little competition, then create meaningful content around them. When you can accomplish this, you are likely to improve your backlink profile, increase site traffic and earn more social connections.

5. Monitor your competitor’s social interactions

If one or more of your competitors use their social media profiles to manage customer engagement, make sure to keep your eyes open for opportunities that allow you to offer their audience a better experience.

When you see customers complaining about their services on Facebook or Twitter, send the user a sympathetic direct message that includes an incentive for working with your brand, such as a coupon or rewards membership.

Capitalizing on these opportunities requires a measured approach that sees you actively monitoring competitive and consumer environments to get in front of upcoming trends.

When such opportunities do arise, it is important that you act swiftly, as your competitors are likely to provide a response at some point.

While following through with one of these concepts will not position your brand as an absolute industry authority, strategically fulfilling all of these recommendations over time will improve your organic search presence to a point where you can notice significant growth.

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Consumer citations are the future of local SEO /consumer-citations-future-local-seo-264052 Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:32:01 +0000 http:/?p=264052 What are citations, and how do they impact local SEO? Columnist Julian Connors explains in this beginner-level local search column.

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In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), a citation is a direct mention of a specific brand within an online platform. Some of the more common examples of online citations are comments published within a community blog about a favorite local coffee shop or an unpleasant experience working with a franchise outlet.

Citations serve as contextual forms of content that are recognized and indexed by search crawlers. On a local level, citations have the ability to improve organic visibility for small businesses and community brands alike.

Consumers mentioning a local brand within an online platform can offer a number of benefits that ultimately allow small businesses to increase their visibility within each major search engine.

Here’s why.

Citations help search engines attribute value

Google and other major search engines have designed their algorithms to be able to detect and attribute value based on the type of messaging that surrounds a brand.

When online consumers publish content in the form of comments or reviews, search engines are able to crawl this information and use it to help them assess how valuable a particular business is for other like-minded consumers.

Citations support online conversions

When local businesses provide experiences that elicit positive online reviews, they can catalyze word-of-mouth marketing across social networks and other user-generated content websites.

Online consumers are more likely to engage with a local business if they have attracted positive reviews from other like-minded consumers. In fact, 74 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, according to a recent report offered by BrightLocal.

online customer reviews affect local businesses

Businesses can earn positive reviews or citations by continuously providing an experience that aligns with the intentions of the target audience and satisfies their specific needs.

Search engines understand structured citations

Structured citations are fundamental points of information about a business that include their name, address and phone number. Most local SEO strategists refer to this as “NAP.”

Maintaining current NAP information and ensuring that details are in sync across all existing platforms is important for search engines and their ability to provide consumers a meaningful experience.

structured data and local SEO citations

As seen above, structured citations often provide consumers with unique information that allows them to understand how they should react next. Although most JCPenney locations are open on Thanksgiving Day, this particular store was not, which is clearly noted because of how well they maintain their NAP information.

Unstructured citations provide the same points of information about a particular business, only they are not consistent with one another. In the screen shots below, the business’s information is correct; it’s just not in sync.

unstructured citations and SEO for local businesses

Image referenced from Razorlight Media Inc. on November 24, 2016

The two different phone numbers appear because this business is using call tracking numbers to help them track their leads and understand where their marketing budget should be allocated.

From an SEO perspective, the issue with having different forms of contact information indexed is that it can disrupt the ability to achieve positive results within local search listings. If search engines are unable to understand what  type of information they should provide to consumers, they are more likely to pull content from a competitor whose NAP information is correct and in sync across all existing platforms.

Citations complement other traditional SEO factors

Local online success is all about crossing off every possible SEO checkbox that exists. When small businesses take the time to build a solid SEO foundation and maintain a healthy domain, citations can serve as a catalyst for driving results.

The organic equity of any website serves as a critical component for determining how well a business ranks within local search results. When small businesses are able to create and maintain an online presence that supports a competitive domain authority, citations can serve as the extra element that allows them to overcome competitors that may have a well-optimized website but lack references that help search engines determine their true value.

Citations just make sense for local SEO

Considering that search engines ultimately care about connecting online consumers with the most rewarding experiences, it makes complete sense that they would leverage citations to better interpret brand value. Why wouldn’t they?

Although traditional links are still one of the most influential tactics for improving competitive keyword rankings, citations could possibly become just as impactful based on the continued evolution of Google’s Hummingbird and the ability for search engines to extract meaning from individual words used within a complete phrase.

What do you think?

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For e-commerce success: SEO > aesthetics /e-commerce-success-seo-aesthetics-261927 Mon, 07 Nov 2016 17:33:37 +0000 http:/?p=261927 For those in the online retail space, columnist Julian Connors shares his advice for making your e-commerce website SEO-friendly.

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The world of e-commerce optimization is vast and complex, and it demands a particular level of attention in order to function and perform correctly.

Over the last 10 years, I have had the opportunity to manage a variety of enterprise-level e-commerce websites that offer everything from athletic gear to office supplies.

Regardless of the intended audience, most e-commerce sites suffer from similar optimization issues. These issues prevent them from maximizing their exposure to qualified traffic and the related revenue.

Usually, these problems are connected to how business stakeholders approach the development of their e-commerce platform, placing user experience and aesthetics over search engine optimization (SEO).

When brands focus on building e-commerce environments that are attractive and functional but ignore or forget about SEO, they immediately lose opportunities to attract and convert new customers from organic channels.

The good news is that by adhering to the following e-commerce optimization recommendations, you can create an environment that is functional and attractive and introduces your brand to new potential customers (what we in the biz call a “win-win” situation).

E-commerce Optimization Tips

Create unique product descriptions

Most e-commerce brands are managed by internal specialists or merchants who are experts on their products. However, these individuals aren’t usually aware of what SEO is or how it works.

Because of this, most people who are responsible for managing online inventories tend to exclude product descriptions, create shallow descriptions or pull descriptions directly from the manufacturer.

Without product descriptions that are informative, engaging and unique, your products will be unable to rank well within premier organic search listings.

Regardless of what products your brand offers, try to create 150- to 300-word descriptions that speak to your target audience’s search intentions, while also framing the products in environments where they are best suited.

Here is a condensed example based on the concept of office supplies:

“Acme’s office supplies support entrepreneurs, office managers, and other professionals who need basic materials in order to complete the job. From recycled printer paper to pens and other writing instruments, our office supplies fit perfectly within any workspace, regardless of whether you work at an agency, own your own company or work from home.”

The description lists specific products related to the larger category of “office supplies,” which allows search engines to attribute authority to individual and top-level terms.

It also speaks directly to the target audience, while placing them in specific environments.

This format allows the description to align with the concept of semantic search and thus, supports the ability to align with more qualified organic consumers.

Implement product reviews

Posting product reviews alongside each item your brand offers is an excellent way to inject relevant content into your product pages.

Amazon does well at leveraging this particular tactic, as their more popular items can have tens of thousands of reviews that inform their customers and drive conversions.

The demand for peer-to-peer education continues to rise, with 80 percent of online consumers giving product reviews just as much weight as personal recommendations offered by their friends.

80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

Source: BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2015

This dynamic makes it even more important to provide quality information that’s based on real consumer experiences, not marketing materials engineered by your brand.

Product reviews are user-generated, which means they are free for you to leverage.

Try to attract as many consumer reviews and testimonials as possible in order to demonstrate value and authority to search engines, while also driving more conversions from your customers.

Optimize for relevant search queries

Your internal marketing team may love coming up with creative ways to label your products, but if your customers don’t understand those labels, their efforts become ineffective.

Optimizing your products by name is critical for allowing search engines to understand what you have and who your products are made for. Do not optimize your products for secondary details such as SKUs, colors or sizes.

Include brand names and model numbers in your title tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags and header tags.

Do not cram keywords into product pages

Keyword Stuffing

Cramming product descriptions with keywords instead of intelligent content will not help you attract more organic visitors or gain keyword authority.

Instead of embedding your product’s name throughout your description, offer information that helps your customers and describes the value of your services. Doing so will improve user engagement, enhance organic authority and drive conversions.

Fulfill all image alt text

Considering how many images tend to appear within e-commerce sites, it’s important that each is accompanied by relevant alt text.

In order for search engines to understand what each picture represents and how it ties into your brand, make sure that every image’s alt text clearly describes the image. Where appropriate, you may wish to include a key term that you’re trying to rank for (don’t overdo it!), as well as your brand’s name.

Example: “office supplies for small business owners — Acme”

Create unique titles

Title tags allow search engines to understand the content of specific landing pages.

Avoid creating duplicate titles across your site by forgoing the use of manufacturer or vendor titles, as these are likely the same titles they have sent to your competitors.

Expose all filtered class pages

This concept is critical when it comes to eliminating duplicate content from your e-commerce site and maximizing the volume of unique pages and key terms your site can rank for.

If users are able to select a variety of filters for one specific type of product, and these filters are not located within the HTML source code of your product pages, Google and other search engines won’t understand the difference between the filtered page and its parent category.

URLs

seo friendly urls for e-commerce sites

Instead of including item numbers or category IDs in your URLs, try to use actual product and/or category names that are easily understood by your target audience.

URLs that are built with users in mind help your online audience (and search engine crawlers) understand where they are within your site, as well as how they can continue working their way down the conversion funnel.

For tips, check out this great infographic by John Lincoln and Brian Dean on SEO-friendly URL structure.

Meaningful content

Similar to product descriptions listed within individual product pages, your primary and subcategory pages should have enough content to be recognized by search engines as true authorities within the competitive space.

Try to create 450 to 500 words worth of content that:

  • speaks to your list or category of products;
  • speaks to your intended audience(s);
  • frames your list or category of products within specific, relevant environments; and
  • includes information that resolves common questions your target audience asks when searching for or using your products.

Include social sharing functionality

User engagement derived from social sharing has a direct influence on organic rankings, as well as the actual signals that are sent to search engines every time someone shares one of your pages.

Make sure that all product pages contain social sharing icons that are easy to find and speak to the most popular platforms, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram.

Create adaptive XML sitemaps

Every e-commerce site should have automated sitemaps that update as new products and/or pages are added to your site. This is the best way to ensure that all of your offerings are recognized by search engines and indexed for consumers to engage with.

Most reputable e-commerce content management systems (CMS) offer automated sitemaps or provide some type of plugin that satisfies this demand.

Manipulating and transferring products or categories throughout your site on a regular basis can create a significant amount of stress for search crawlers. That’s why it’s important to create an adaptive sitemap.xml that is capable of aligning with every change you make to your site.

Content development and internal linking

E-commerce sites that offer buyer guides or educational articles and create internal links that pass page authority from primary to subcategory environments are excellent ways to drive organic authority and conversions.

Creating buyer guides that educate consumers on the value and benefits of your products supports keyword and concept authority and helps drive consumers down the conversion funnel.

Linking from articles to specific product or category pages helps inform users about your services, while also transferring organic authority throughout your site.

Implement redirects where appropriate

Proper redirect systems should all remain top-of-mind when trying to maximize e-commerce success.

Based on how often you publish and/or take down products, you need a redirect process or system that automatically redirects outdated content to a relevant updated URL in order to avoid broken links.

Review the following types of redirects to determine the best way to approach this situation:

  • Redirect to a newer product model. Use 301 redirects when you’ve phased out an older version of a product and replaced it with a newer one — for example, if you no longer sell the iPhone 5, try redirecting that URL to the iPhone 7 page. Implementing 301 redirects will transfer users from old pages to new ones and signal to search engines what page you want to rank.
  • Redirect to a primary category page. The purpose of this is to resolve consumer navigation problems or to retire outdated products and redirect users to the most relevant parent category.
  • Reuse URLs to preserve organic equity. You can reuse existing or old URLs in cases where your brand sells generic products that are not dependent on technical details or model numbers. Doing this allows you to preserve and leverage the organic equity of an existing page, which supports your ability to rank well within search listings.

Page speed matters a great deal

PageSpeed and e-commerce optimization

Depending on how your site is coded, a page containing a large number of page elements (images, ads, scripts) can slow down your site’s load time.

Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool in order to understand what specific issues exist and how you can minimize your site’s load time in order to improve user engagement and get ahead of your online competitors.

Schema is your friend

Schema.org offers a library of structured data markup vocabulary that Google and other search engines use to offer online consumers more information around a particular subject (including brands and products).

Schemas you might consider incorporating into your e-commerce website, where appropriate, include:

Create persona-driven content

Create content that directly aligns with your target personas in order to maximize qualified traffic and conversions.

Understand what types of issues or problems your consumers experience on a regular basis, and offer content that provides detailed answers on how they can overcome such objections or barriers.

By publishing detailed content within each product category, you are able to easily drive more transactions based on education and convenience.

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PPC + SEO = match made in marketing heaven /ppc-seo-match-made-marketing-heaven-259693 Thu, 06 Oct 2016 14:23:31 +0000 http:/?p=259693 Are your SEO and PPC teams working in silos? Columnist Julian Connors discusses several ways SEO and PPC can combine efforts to improve their strategies and drive more conversions.

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It has been quite a year for the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

We’ve seen numerous algorithm updates, including a final Penguin update and the introduction of Possum. We also saw major changes to the way ads are displayed on desktop SERPs. Google continues to tweak how online consumers receive content through organic and paid listings.

In order to meet the demands of today’s search landscape and connect with more qualified consumers, strategists need to create campaigns that treat SEO and PPC as a unified silo, as opposed to separate disciplines.

Google’s never-ending quest for SERP perfection

Algorithmic Change and Response

The ongoing adjustments to the SERP layout are meant to help Google better align with consumer objectives by improving the content quality and relevance of listings.

While this certainly allows Google to become a better service provider for online consumers, it also presents new challenges for SEO strategists. Each adjustment requires strategists to develop new methods for ranking within prime search listings.

Integrating SEO with PPC

Developing digital marketing campaigns that combine SEO with PPC is not only necessary for achieving prime listing positions, it’s now the only way to maximize traffic and conversion opportunities.

As the former Organic Search Manager for a Fortune 500 brand that specializes in home care, I was responsible for developing comprehensive, complex digital campaigns that focused on consumer behavior alignment and conversion optimization.

When our team made the effort to combine both SEO and PPC strategies/data, we were able to identify a multitude of critical data points dedicated to consumer behavior, intentions and location/geography.

This level of precision allowed us to:

  • modify our organic keyword strategy so that we could create and optimize new content to rank within specific geographic locations, applying exact phrases used by our target audience to align with their intentions;
  • adjust our PPC budgets so that we were only running ads within the most popular markets and effective time frames; and
  • align our PPC ads with their offline marketing schedule to maximize awareness and conversions.

Overall, these actions resulted in:

  • 30-percent increase in organic traffic
  • 25-percent increase in paid clicks
  • 35-percent savings in ad spend
  • 20-percent increase in quarterly profits

Sharing information to create one rockstar team

click through rates for ppc and seo ads

Most digital marketing agencies are built with SEO and PPC sitting on opposite sides of the building.

Both teams work tirelessly, developing keyword strategies, creating unique content and employing a number of tactics that focus on attracting online consumers. Even though each team uses different systems and tactics to drive conversions, there is a tremendous amount of critical data that can be used to create a synergistic and harmonious relationship, bolstering results for everyone.

Check out the following ways that SEO and PPC can combine efforts to improve their strategies, as well as to drive conversions like never before.

Share keyword data to increase the intelligence of your campaigns

Keywords are the foundation for any successful SEO or PPC campaign.

For PPC strategists, keywords are used to facilitate creative relationships with consumers who are located further down the conversion funnel.

In the world of SEO, keywords are used to dictate the information architecture of a website, as well as its content strategy.

Both teams conduct keyword research in order to identify terms that align with their target audience’s online behavior, project traffic growth and drive qualified conversions.

Because more consumers are using long-tail phrases and complete sentences when searching than ever before, keyword data must be shared across both teams in order to offer coordinated messages that keep brands top-of-mind and solicit qualified conversions.

Set shared goals and combine metrics

PPC and SEO Integrated KPIs

Using the information both teams collect doesn’t just offer more accuracy around consumer behavior; it can also be used to support your brand’s inbound marketing campaigns.

Teams that combine their PPC data with organic user engagement metrics (e.g., average session duration, bounce rate, pages per session) are able to gain unique insight around how consumers are interacting with certain digital properties, as well as how they behave once they leave your site.

The metrics your SEO and PPC teams review in order to establish their key performance indicators (KPIs) should be almost identical. When this happens, you are able to apply this information to other marketing channels like PR, social media or email marketing.

Remove silos to improve production

Approaching SEO and PPC as two separate silos isolates critical information and diminishes the productivity level of even the most well-executed online campaigns.

It almost never makes sense to keep these two disciplines apart, as the teams can offer each other particular points of information that are vital for identifying and fulfilling conversion opportunities.

Use data that informs cross-channel decisions and justifies action

Cross Channel Optimization for PPC and SEO

When it comes to gathering enough actionable data to develop robust, intelligent strategies, extracting information from one specific field, like SEO or PPC, is not enough.

Although the quality of your organic data may provide insight on how to create functional plans, the amount of verified information organic search can capture may not be sufficient to justify real action.

Conversely, information that’s gathered from the search engines themselves as a result of paid search activity is both valuable and based on a substantial sample size that allows you to move forward confidently.

If your organization treats SEO and PPC as two distinct entities, try to make sure that your efforts are aligned through shared:

  • reporting;
  • objectives; and
  • communication portals.

The goal of merging both disciplines together is not to have the same people performing the same type of work. Instead, it is meant to increase internal awareness of key conversion opportunities.

Action & impact: how to maximize SERP visibility

Now that we have covered the principles that allow your SEO and PPC teams to work together efficiently, use the following tactics to own as much real estate within Google SERPs as possible.

Landing page optimization

Optimizing your landing pages to drive qualified traffic and conversions is a fundamental component of any digital marketing campaign. SEO strategists can provide their PPC counterparts with critical information around consumer intentions, objectives and demands to reduce bounce rate and increase click-through-rates (CTR).

PPC strategists can then use their insights around consumer online activity to perpetuate paid ads that only appear in front of the most qualified consumers possible. By doing this, both teams are able to support each other in ways that improve user experience, maximize relevant traffic and reduce wasted ad spend.

Approach SEO & PPC holistically

Approach SEO and PPC Holistically

Running paid ad campaigns that 1) offer precise messages and 2) are located next to your organic listings on Google can increase overall CTR and lead to a higher return on your investment.

While managing the online campaign of Sonos in 2015, our team ran paid ads alongside keywords that the electronics company already ranked for organically. This type of positioning was extremely effective for creating the sense that we were more prominent than our competitors and thus, more credible.

Because of this, total revenue through organic and paid channels increased by 37 percent year over year.

Understand seasonality

Share seasonal data and information relating to other offline variables to learn how to approach and optimize for specific times throughout the year when consumer activity peaks.

Use this information to create a calendar of events that guides you on how to:

  • create organic content that aligns with specific consumers within specific locations;
  • run paid ads that contain unique messaging based on location and intention;
  • maximize brand awareness during peak activity points like the holiday shopping season; and
  • increase consumer reaction and conversions during seasonal low points.

Get in front of the competition

SEO and PPC strategists should work together as a cohesive unit to share key points of information that highlight how and what the competition is doing from a digital perspective.

Create monitoring systems that identify your competitors in terms of:

  • positioning within SERPs;
  • pricing;
  • key message points/branding initiatives; and
  • primary and secondary keyword terms.

Use this information to adjust your ad spend, to improve CTR and to outrank your opponents by taking up more real estate within SERPs.

The post PPC + SEO = match made in marketing heaven appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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