I've touched on the subject of how to use PPC for link building  a few times before but after Panda, I've been forced to think about it even more. While I hate paying for just about anything, I'd be remiss not to understand how important paid advertising is to an online marketing campaign. Whether or not you actually participate in PPC isn't of concern with this, either...you just need to at the very least be aware of how to use online marketing tools  and data in order to finetune what you want to do elsewhere. For our purposes, I'll be explaining how to use PPC for three main areas of link marketing:
- Keyword data for anchor text
- Boost traffic when there's a dip
- Use with social media promotion to help build links
(Since Wordstream are kind enough to let me guest post here, I do suggest that you check out their suite of keyword tools .)
Did I mention that I like free? A Wordstream effort, the Free Keyword Tool  is quite intuitive and here's an example of how I'd use their data:
Let's put in a nice long-tailed keyword here since the database contains over a trillion keywords . For the free tool, you have 10 sets of searches that you can run (then just one per day moving forward), with or without the adult filter on, and you can "nichefy " results. That sounds so German but I'm not going to check the box because I'm stubborn. I'll keep the adult filter on since your children may be reading this blog and I don't want any angry emails about how I've ruined them forever. Since I can't seem to grow up, let's go with a search for "punk rock clothes" as I'll pretend that I'm cool enough to make and sell such items.
Notice all of the greyed out information, which is available to you on the paid tools , but since we're talking about free ones right now, let's just focus on the Relative Frequency. It seems that there are lots of searches for baby punk rock clothes (and naturally I sell those.) What this says to me, as a parent, is that there are other like-minded posers who want to slap a Ramones onesie on their offspring. This will naturally become a sought-after anchor as I'll make sure my content is well-optimized for this, I'll make sure there are some great sections of the website that are devoted to this, and I'll pursue links with this in mind. It also tells me more though; people looking to buy a bib emblazoned with Joe Strummer are possibly people who'd like to purchase a Clash tshirt for themselves, for example. These people are probably on Twitter and Facebook, possibly using Spotify or Grooveshark, and might like to interact with my site on those other platforms too. They might want an email reminder in 1 year that there's a new 12 month-sized punk hoodie available after they've bought one in a newborn size. They might want the chance to follow me on Twitter and get access to sales, and they might want to like me on Facebook and be entered to win $500 worth of free clothes. This isn't just a good idea for a successful anchor text strategy, it's a start to a full-blown sales brainstorm.
Getting More Traffic
Everyone wants more traffic but there are times when bad things happen (algorithm change that kicks your butt, server downtime, idiot developer screwing up your robots.txt file, etc.) and you need to keep things rolling. PPC is brilliant for this. If you already run a PPC campaign, you can always just increase what you're doing, but if you aren't doing anything currently and a loss of traffic could sink you, you might want to start one, even if it's quite small. You can't simply buy your way to the top of course, as there are things like that pesky Quality Score  to consider, but just as a new site doesn't immediately perform brilliantly, a new PPC campaign probably won't either, so in the interest of seasoning things, you could allocate a bit of your budget and get one running for when you really need it.
Let's turn to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool  and, again, see what's going on for punk rock clothing, with the idea of figuring out what a small PPC campaign might cost us.
I really like this tool because you can define the language you want, the geolocation, and the devices you will be targeting.
Now, if I am going after a small account to get started, I probably am going to be cheap and spend as little as possible. Thus, I'd sort the list of keywords by Competition to get the low ones, then look at the keywords with loads of searches. There aren't a lot of great ones but I did find a few worth going after:
- gothic style (I'll take it, as I'm not proud.)
- punk rock style
- alternative fashion
Their Traffic Estimator is also awesome...let's just throw in these three keywords to see what sort of budget we'd need:
As you can see, for a little over a dollar a day, I can have a very basic account running for these three phrases. It's not much but it might be easier to build on this when I need it than it would be to start from scratch. If you've ever been upset and tried to set up an Adwords account, you know what I mean.
PPC Meets Social Media
Both of the aforementioned keyword tools could easily be used to gauge popularity of certain terms so that you could slap in a mention of them when you're tweeting or posting on Facebook. First though, let's find some people to follow for an example, using our terms we gleaned from the earlier work: For this I love, love, love Followerwonk .
This search gave me 299 Twitter users who have some form of the "alternative fashion" keyphrase in their Twitter bio. You can follow these people on the spot, sort the results, or visit their associated websites. If you're a paying member you can also download the info but since I'm keeping it cheap, we won't get into that right now. These are people who view alternative fashion as being important enough to mention it in their bios, so it's probably safe to say that they're the people you want to connect with. That's when the hard part starts of course, as properly engaging with people on social media is not quite as simple as many people think. If you aren't viewed as an authority, no matter how much you tweet or promote yourself, you probably won't build many links through social media.
None of these methods/tools should replace actual tools and methods that are strictly designed for link building of course, as many of those are totally irreplaceable. However, I do definitely think that it's important to learn how to market outside of your specialty, and learning more about how PPC works  opens you up to different ways of interpreting data that you can get from paid ad sources AND proper link building tools. And who knows...with the way things work in Google today, you might need to know how to run a great paid ad campaign sooner than you think.
About the author: Julie Joyce is the cofounder and Director of Operations for Link Fish Media , a link building agency solely focused on creating custom link solutions for clients all over the world.