Keyword Marketing

How to Use SEO & PPC Keyword Data to Maximum Effect

By Larry Kim April 22, 2009 Posted In: Keyword Marketing Comments: 2

In the last installment of this keyword series, we talked about how sharing information between paid and natural search marketing campaigns could leverage shared data to improve the results of both channels. We used the following graphic to illustrate the process of sharing information amongst PPC and SEO campaigns:

SEO and PPC data sharing is an iterative process, as pictured.

The graphic above makes a lot of sense in the event that you’re:

  • Launching a new site
  • Launching a new product/product line/offering
  • Attempting to target a new keyword vertical

This cross-channel thinking can certainly be applied by anyone engaging in search marketing, but for our purposes we’ll focus on the process surrounding any of the above.

Step 1: Test Your Keywords with PPC

First you want to generate a list of keywords. You can do this any number of different ways, like using a keyword research tool to help you build this list. The problem is that this data isn’t specific to your site:

You can view approximate average search volume with the Google keyword tool, as pictured.

Google’s keyword tool and others can give you a rough sense of the total traffic for a keyword. The numbers you’re getting, though are approximations of all of the traffic for that keyword. They don’t tell you:

  • The exact amount of actual search traffic
  • Whether people find your site, your offer, and it’s content relevant for that phrase
  • How those keywords actually perform: i.e. do they positively impact your bottom line

By getting a PPC campaign off the ground, you can learn how much actual traffic you can expect, get a feel for how relevant searchers and Google consider your content for your keyword lists, and most importantly: find out if building content for a list of SEO keywords will be profitable.

Step 2: Target Your Successful PPC Keywords Via SEO

Once you have success targeting PPC keywords, attack those very keywords in your content creation and promotion. You need to be able to see precisely which keywords have been driving traffic and sales, and then build content to those keywords. Let’s imagine we’re running a custom cake shop. We can create some campaigns for PPC based around very broad pay per click keywords related to our business. The list might be:

  • wedding
  • birthday
  • chocolate
  • vanilla
  • etc.

Within these campaigns we’ll create more specific ad groups for terms like “custom wedding cakes” or “funny chocolate birthday cakes”.

Once we’ve run a paid search campaign, and created some high level segmentations, we can take a look at what works:

You can look at a campaign summary to see which keywords have worked.

If our vanilla group fell on its face, maybe we’ll skip that in our website’s information architecture. If “custom wedding cakes” is a big seller for our paid search campaign, though, we might try to create a whole section of our site targeting related key phrases.

The key thing to remember is that we won’t be wasting time and money building all this content: we know that if we achieve rankings, these keywords will be profitable. Since it takes months and a non-trivial amount of labor (in the form of not only content authoring but also link building, Web development, etc.) it’s crucial to us that we not waste money targeting search engine keywords that won’t bring us leads and sales.

And the good news is, once we apply our keyword targeting to SEO and develop effective copy, we’ll discover a whole host of new long-tail keywords.

Step 3: Take a Look Back at Your Logs

Now, by revisiting our log files, we can discover new website keywords and new keyword verticals that our SEO efforts have unearthed.

For instance, maybe we were targeting custom wedding cakes, and on that page we referenced a great golden yellow cream cheesecake we had made for a wedding. We might see some traffic trickle into the website for that phrase. It might even convert for us; now we can add that keyword to the list of paid search keywords we’re bidding on.

In this way, we can effectively scale our paid search campaign to reach more searchers. Additionally, we’ll generally lower our overall cost per click, since these more specific queries often have less advertiser competition.

Search Marketing Data Sharing Makes Both Channels Better

In addition to the process outlined above, there are a host of other things you can do to generate additional value from your paid search and natural search campaigns. These include:

Targeting Insights – As we outlined above: paying close attention to your paid and natural search data can help you to find valuable information about both.

Messaging Insights – Paid search ads are very trackable. In organic search, you actually have a chance to write something resembling “ad text”. Take a look at a search result for custom wedding cakes:

Effective ad copy and effective meta data can help to inform each other, as pictured.

The ad with the tan back-drop is a paid ad. If the site listed started to rank for “custom wedding cake”, though, and had had a lot of success with their paid search campaign for that term, they might replicate the above headline for use in the title tag. The WeddingWire.com meta title tag and meta description will serve as the listing in search results. By infusing ad text that has proven to be effective into the meta title and meta descriptions of pages (note: Google no longer supports the "meta keywords" attribute), you’re able to create title tags and meta descriptions that are particularly compelling. Towards the same end, if you have a few benefit statements, a couple of taglines, or multiple product name options you’re considering, you might consider running them as PPC ads to test their popularity amongst searchers. Towards the same end, organic pages that enjoy a lot of traffic may offer ideas for clickable headlines or calls to action.

Your messaging, targeting, and overall execution for both PPC and SEO are drastically improved by creating a single home for data analysis and by implementing processes for acting on that data.

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Comments

Wednesday October 28, 2009

Richard (not verified) Said:

A fascinating article...

I have many comments and questions.

I have believed early on in the PPC to SEO to Analysis loop. Unfortunately, I found it was hard to educate a client along these lines...

When you discuss new keyword vertical I believe you are referring to an existing website discovering they've been missing traffic and visitor opportunities. Someone monitors the visit logs and discovers new keywords. Or, someone at the company says, "We sell wooden baseball bats. Now we're selling aluminum baseball bats. Should we have a web page for aluminum baseball bats? (Pardon the oversimplification.)

So using new keyword verticals would apply to existing websites that are trying to upgrade/improve their traffic and conversions.

You already answered one of my questions, "How much effort do you expend on copywriting, design, and graphics for a test page?" The answer is, as little as is possible.

When using PPC to test out pages for a new website, new product offering, or new keyword vertical, does it ever make sense to build a test PPC web page in what I call "isolation"? A test page that is not indexed by Google? Or do you build the PPC test page within existing web structure for SEO benefits immediately. If the PPC test fails, shouldn't you strip out the failed page from the web structure? Or is it standard practice that if a PPC test page is built, it's test page is built within site structure for Google indexing?

Richard
Chicago, IL

PS: Has WordStream every written anything on the pros and cons of PPC cannibalism from SEO organic traffic? If a company is already listed for "aluminum baseball bats" on page 1 of Google, will using a PPC on the same page be worthwhile or simply a cannibalistic drain on natural search?

Great articles ladies and gentlemen, thanks.

Wednesday October 28, 2009

Tom Demers Said:

Hey Richard!

First off thanks so much for your loyal readership and your thoughtful blog comments. It's very gratifying and exciting to see you reading and contributing as much as you do around here!

When you discuss new keyword vertical I believe you are referring to an existing website discovering they've been missing traffic and visitor opportunities. Someone monitors the visit logs and discovers new keywords. Or, someone at the company says, "We sell wooden baseball bats. Now we're selling aluminum baseball bats. Should we have a web page for aluminum baseball bats? (Pardon the oversimplification.)

Yep basically a new keyword vertical or "query space" (for me anyway) is just a new collection of tightly themed keywords. Even the way one product is described could be home to multiple keyword verticals (baseball bat might also be described as hitting equiptment, that sort of thing).

When using PPC to test out pages for a new website, new product offering, or new keyword vertical, does it ever make sense to build a test PPC web page in what I call "isolation"? A test page that is not indexed by Google? Or do you build the PPC test page within existing web structure for SEO benefits immediately. If the PPC test fails, shouldn't you strip out the failed page from the web structure? Or is it standard practice that if a PPC test page is built, it's test page is built within site structure for Google indexing?

Lots of great questions! I wrote a piece on using PPC landing pages for SEO here: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/06/17/09/ppc-landing-pages. For testing purposes, it's definitely best to create the page "out of nav" - not linked to, and ideally you would create a meta noindex tag at the page level (just in case). It's very debateable as to whether you should just leave the page in because "all content is good content" or whether it might make more sense to leave it off, as it might steal some link equity. Our friend Gab Goldenberg had a great post about that topic here: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-mythbusters-content/12810/ where I also added a comment.

PS: Has WordStream every written anything on the pros and cons of PPC cannibalism from SEO organic traffic? If a company is already listed for "aluminum baseball bats" on page 1 of Google, will using a PPC on the same page be worthwhile or simply a cannibalistic drain on natural search?

We haven't blogged about this specifically, but there is some nice content on this over at the Click Equations blog. I posted a comment here: http://www.clickequations.com/blog/2009/03/bidding-on-brand-terms/#comme... which was followed by a blog post here: http://www.clickequations.com/blog/2009/03/buying-paid-keywords-when-org... which I think is a great synopsis. The Click Equations guys (Craig and Alex) are very very sharp and they publish some great stuff (albeit somewhat infrequently).

Hope that helps, thanks again for commenting!

Tom

 
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