Stop Thinking PPC and SEO Are Siblings – PPC Tuesday

By Nik

You’re selling your marketing short if you believe PPC and SEO are interchangeable.

In our space, SEO and PPC are often compared as equal siblings and to be honest, it’s about time that they lose their perceived interchangeability. Both are important, but they are not the same.

What does your PPC channel mean to your business today and in the future? If you don’t have a clear picture of that answer – an answer that you believe in – then I sincerely hope you’ll be able to develop a more bankable answer through today’s post.

In today’s post:

  1. We’ll examine 3 distinct differences between PPC and SEO…
  2. …and how those differences allow for unique ecommerce strategies through PPC

Difference #1: With PPC, it’s easy to convert budget into exposure:

Genius! PPC can deliver a direct correlation of exposure to budget without a significant ramp-up period.

Difference #2: PPC lets you control target proportions:

PPC exposure can be controlled to the degree where if you want 40% of your traffic coming in for general terms and 60% for product-specific, you can do that, and control that. By contrast, the heuristic aspects of Google’s organic algorithm may create a shift in your rankability for a type of keyword (a major brand you sell, for example) and all of a sudden your target proportions are in peril until either your tactics fit a new equation set by Google, or Google reneges on its change after some thought. Since Google is heuristic, this is a common scenario.

Difference #3: PPC offers a profitable colonization effect:

Over time, SEO has become a more holistic science in the sense that there are activities that can result in more SEO exposure – which is great. Unfortunately, many of these aspects are not related to the relevance, prominence and popularity calculations that help a page rank for a keyword. Due to this continued abstraction of efforts and calculations on the SEO front, the intrinsic value of many SEO efforts these days are actually nil, while they are seen as winning investments because the algorithm benefits the site in other ways. For example, having your site listed in an online directory may never get you a single visit that can produce revenue, while that signal may help Google gauge your backlink portfolio as healthy after the Penguin update. As your SEO efforts colonize the internet, some of them may never add any value to the internet, to a user, or to your bottom line – yet these same efforts are at the core of how you make your SEO work well.

Through PPC, on the other hand, Google has developed a roadmap that continues to add valuable holistic aspects for those who engage in it.

Example #1: Google AdWords remarketing can help you make the most of your general term exposure. While in the past, you may have considered traffic for general terms to be “fat” that needed to be cut (very expensive clicks, low conversion rates), the advent of remarketing offers business owners a viable way to profitably buy into general exposure. With remarketing, you might type in “office chairs” and see a selection from (made up… for now) through a PPC ad. Though you may not buy at that moment, Gator can now display remarketing image ads throughout Google’s display network to you through a tracked cookie. When you’re ready to buy, you may click on that ad, another Gator PPC ad, or just visit the site to make a purchase. With better assisted sale tracking and phone monitoring, Google has ensured that there’s nothing abstract about this investment.

Example #2: Google Adwords Product Listing Ads (PLAs) help you connect your valuable efforts on the Google merchant side to your PPC spend. You get a lot if you’re doing PLAs today. For starters, you get qualified traffic at around 75% the cost of a normal ad – that is until it gets more saturated. You get more prominence in the SERP ads, as one of the few images displayed in the results, beautifully merchandised along rich snippets of product-related content. Moreover, you can get your PLA ad up and running while your text ad is showing at the same time.

Using these differences for a young budget:

If you are a young ecommerce store, with just enough money to open a PPC account and get it running, then thank your lucky stars that PPC exists. At the outset, you can use PLAs and long-tail targets to only build exposure at the product level for your most margin-friendly keywords. Once you work out the kinks, observe and fix conversion issues (with what should be a fairly high converting keyword set), you can build out the campaign to stay focused on those keywords with 90% of your budget, and spend 10% on more general terms of those categories.

Since long-tail terms represent the end of the shopping process (when a person knows what they want), you can start casting your net on the early stages, where keyword choices are much more general. There is a period of time that can pass between a person acknowledging an issue (general term) and being ready to buy (long-tail term) – during that time, you can utilize remarketing to build confidence with that person in regards to your brand reputation and trust.

After you have made that 10% profitable, you can scale it upwards. And remember, unlike SEO, you control these portions without any influence of Google’s changes.

Using these differences for a seasoned budget:

For seasoned PPC accounts, the factors that differentiate PPC from SEO make the former an increasingly profitable aspect of marketing. Historically, PPC’s limitations made it difficult to profit from general terms – and limited display options gave SEO an edge over PPC due to its prominent placement in the SERPs.

Today, you can take your seasoned (maybe even jaded from the past) PPC account and revisit general terms by utilizing remarketing to capitalize on that period of time that it takes between a general search and a long-tail search. This is especially true for larger ticket items where the PPC costs of general terms can be astronomical, and sales cycles can be very long. Remarketing utilizes that time for its benefit, and adds value to simple gaining a general term click from a visitor, even if they don’t make an immediate purchase.

Seasoned accounts may also want to shake things up with PLAs and revisit the optimal display settings for a particular set of keywords. You may notice that some product keywords with historical success may have tapered off recently – are your competitors using PLAs when you’re not? If so, then by engaging in PLAs the right way may not only bring you back to a point of success, it could provide you with a success you’ve never seen before – with CTRs that are much higher than ad text because your ads are now the most attention-getting result in the SERPs.

Use them differently, and use them wisely:

Acknowledging the difference between PPC and SEO is a must these days. Embrace those differences, make more money and enjoy the changes that befit these two wonderfully unique marketing channels.