If you are trying to spread the word about your business online, you want to ensure you use the most effective approach possible. While there is no question that proper search engine optimization (SEO) is the best way to help your website rise in the search engine results, you may be wondering whether a paid search campaign can also impact your efforts.
After all, if so many businesses are willing to spend money on pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, they must be getting a return on their investment, right?
When it comes to paid search and organic SEO, many businesses find that using both approaches helps them obtain the best results. Paid search can often give organic SEO efforts a boost. Here is a closer look at the interaction between these two methods.
Understanding The Distinction Between SEO & SEM
SEO involves enhancing a website’s visibility to help it rank higher and attract organic traffic in search engines. With proper SEO, you can increase the chances that your target audience will find you when searching in Google and other search engines for keywords related to the services or products you offer. According to HubSpot, 61% of marketers report that SEO is one of the most important factors in their inbound marketing.
The goal of SEO strategies is to develop web pages and content that will be assessed favorably by the ranking factors that search engines use in determining which pages come out on top.
Paid search, also known as pay-per-click, PPC or Search Engine Marketing (SEM), is a type of search engine marketing that involves advertisers paying publishers like Google for every click a person makes on an ad. Businesses only have to pay when a consumer interacts with their ad rather than each time it is displayed. When used properly, these ads can attract interested individuals interested in a business’s offering and likely to convert to a sale.
These results typically appear at the top of the results in Google with an “Ad” designation to the left, denoting that it is a paid advertisement rather than a top-rated search result. PPC ads are displayed alongside organic search results and are typically viewed by users before they see the organic results.
Some businesses use PPC ads for a specific marketing campaign, such as launching a new product or a seasonal campaign. In contrast, others use campaigns focused on their brand name as part of a general marketing strategy.
How Can Paid Search Improve Organic SEO Campaigns?
Every business needs to use SEO to attract organic traffic. Although there are expenses involved, such as freelancers and SEO agencies, it typically works out to be cheaper than paid search over time. One of the most significant benefits of SEO is that once content has been created that drives traffic to a company’s website and ranks well, it is unnecessary to continue investing money in it to help target customers see it.
However, there are some potential drawbacks associated with relying solely on SEO. For example, Google sometimes changes its search algorithms throughout the year, so staying on top of the latest changes and adjusting your marketing strategy accordingly is essential. If not, your business’s position in the rankings could drop. It also requires regular optimization so the site continues to rank, which might include updating older articles and culling expired links. It can also take time to see results, particularly for newer websites or domains.
PPC, in contrast, can offer rapid results. If you are already familiar with how paid search works or are working with an agency with experience in this field, it can take just a few hours to get results.
Another significant advantage of paid search is that it appears above organic rankings on the search engine result page. This means that your website could appear above your competitors who have spent years of effort and significant amounts of money achieving the top spot in the rankings. Potential audiences will see your listing first before the others appear below it.
This can have an impact on organic SEO in several ways. While Google’s search algorithm does not directly reward sites that advertise on Google with higher rankings in exchange for money, using ads can help increase your organic search rankings in several ways.
Raising Brand Awareness & Recognition Among Target Audiences
Studies by Google have shown that search ads have a big impact on brand awareness. After being shown either a control search engine results page or a test one created explicitly for the study in which the test brand was placed in the top search ad position, consumers were later asked to identify the first brand that came to their mind about the category keyword.
Nearly double the number of participants in the test group named the test brand compared to those in the control group, at 14.8% versus 8.2%. In some verticals, the difference was even more significant. Google reports that because search ads reach individuals with a very receptive mindset and are searching on topics related to a product or service, they are more likely to remember brands that appear front and center.
How does this impact organic SEO? Brand awareness is one of the factors that improve search rankings. Raising brand awareness and recognition among consumers typically leads to a big boost in Google searches, and Google’s algorithm considers which companies have greater levels of public recognition.
They aim to provide searchers with consistently high-quality results that match what they seek, and companies that have earned this type of brand recognition are generally a safer bet from their point of view. Indeed, studies have shown that 70% of consumers head to known retailers first when deciding which websites to click on in the search results for products. There is also a correlation between brand traffic uplift and increases in organic ranking.
Even if a consumer does not click on an ad, seeing it raises their familiarity with the brand. This means that the next time they see a search result listing for the same brand, they are more likely to click on it as people tend to click more on what is familiar to them. Therefore, using paid search can indirectly increase the rankings of organic listings and, by extension, raise the organic traffic a site attracts.
Bidding On Keywords To Potentially Use Within An Organic SEO Campaign
Increasing a website’s rankings using organic keywords is the heart of most effective SEO strategies. This requires considerable effort in developing content and promoting it across different channels to increase its visibility. Paid search can boost these efforts by helping test organic keywords to see if they are likely to provide the desired results.
By developing some content and setting up paid search campaigns that test out how receptive the target audience is, the prominent place that ads occupy in the search engine result pages allows you to gauge the interest of your target audience based on their response to your ad.
For example, if there are a lot of clicks but a low conversion rate and a high bounce rate, this likely means that your site and content are not aligning with the general user intent of those who search for this keyword. Therefore, it may not be worth pursuing. If, in contrast, the response is very positive, you can confidently devote the time and money needed for an organic search campaign based on this keyword. This allows you to channel your use of resources to efforts that are most likely to get results.
Increasing Online Visibility Within SERPs
Paid search and organic SEO can work together to increase your visibility. To do this successfully, ensuring that the language used in your organic and paid search strategies is aligned with consistent messaging that users can recognize across channels is essential.
It is important to understand the user intent of individuals doing a particular search when creating organic and paid search campaigns. Ensure that all the keywords and content you create align with these needs.
Do not overlook the utility of using paid ads for keywords even after you have earned a first-page ranking for them, as doing so can boost your visibility further.
Can Paid Search Cannibalize Organic Traffic?
Some businesses may be concerned that paid search ads might cannibalize the traffic they could get from their organic listings for the same keywords. However, a study by Google found that paid search ads provide an 89% incremental lift in a site’s visitors, which goes above and beyond the traffic that organic listings can expect to attract.
While it could be argued that it is in Google’s best interest to encourage users to pay for search ads, the study does support numerous other independent studies that show paid ads positively impact natural traffic. Even keeping competitors from occupying the paid ad spots and drawing traffic away from your site can make them well worth the investment.
Increase Your Website’s Visibility & Improve Search Rankings
Understanding how organic SEO and paid search work together can help your website rank well and attract more traffic. The SEO professionals at 321 Web Marketing possess the insight and knowledge needed to help businesses get the most out of their SEO efforts. Contact us today to learn more about how our services can help you reach more clients.