Paid Search and organic search engine optimization are sometimes viewed as two completely different practices. While that might technically be true, it’s good to remember just how entwined they are with each other. PPC and SEO are less like partners in your marketing family and more like siblings or even congenital twins! The yin to each other’s yang, these two marketing tools work like two halves to a single whole.

The goal of each service is to drive more traffic to your website, yet to fully understand how powerful SEO and PPC can be together, let’s first take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each on its own.

SEO Delivers Free Clicks

Looking at everything through the eyes of a paid search expert, one of the main advantages of SEO traffic is that clicks are free. This is a truly foreign concept to the world of PPC where a million new clicks probably means a million new dollars of adspend you owe Google.

It can also be somewhat time consuming to get a successful SEO campaign up and running. Content must be created and distributed, site code must be altered, and in many cases a ritualistic sacrifice must be made to the almighty algorithmic powers that be (only half kidding).

PPC Delivers Immediate Results

Paid search on the other hand has the immediate benefit of launching a campaign before breakfast and being on the first page of Google by lunch time. The immediacy of results and actionable data that comes with a PPC campaign is nothing short of a revelation.

That immediate feedback received with PPC allows a campaign to be very agile. Changes can be made on the fly and the course of a campaign can be shifted towards new strategic opportunities as they appear on the horizon.

The biggest drawback to PPC is perhaps the most obvious: every single click to your website is costing you money. A very successful campaign will still always be limited by its budget (unless you’re Amazon or some other mega corporation with endless resources).

How PPC and SEO Work Together

So just how do SEO and PPC play so nicely together? Think of them as puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together to create a single cohesive picture. The weaknesses of one are buoyed up by the strengths of the other. While SEO takes time to develop, PPC can get you traffic in the short term. SEO can cover your company core pillars while PPC helps you discover growth opportunities. A combination of both can help you own the results page where you customers are going for answers.

Question:  What’s more enticing than having a link at the top of the Google search results?

Answer:  Having TWO links at the top of the Google Search results!

Finding success in both SEO and PPC will also give you at least two different contact points on the results page, and makes it twice as likely that someone finds you instead of a competitor.

Placing a PPC ad at the top of the SERP can also have the effect of increasing name recognition with the target, and ultimately trust in your brand. While Google has been careful to point out that running PPC ads does NOT give an automatic boost to organic rankings, that increase in name recognition and trust could provide a nice boost in organic CTR.

Using PPC for Branding

Your brand identity and ultimately what people associate with your brand name can be guided using PPC. This goes above and beyond simply bidding for your own brand terms, which in itself is a great practice.

Bidding for your own brand terms accomplishes two things: it gives you an easy win on paid search providing you with better than average CPC (usually) and it prevents competitors from carving into your market share.

All too often I’ll type in a client’s branded terms on Google only to find a long list of competitor sites, lying in wait to steal away that targeted traffic. It’s important to get out in front of anyone else trying to steal your own branded traffic.

This is especially important if you don’t yet have a strong presence in the organic listings. Without a PPC element to your online marketing strategy, anyone looking for your brand will be unable to find it. This is a highly-focused segment of your target market that you might be missing out on.

In addition to bidding on your own branded terms, PPC allows you to create positive associations in the minds of your target market. Let’s say, for example, you sell socks online. Instead of just bidding on “socks”, PPC allows you to include keywords like:

  • Fashionable socks
  • Comfortable socks
  • Quality socks
  • Socks that match an Armani suit
  • “What socks does Donald Trump wear?”

The possibilities really are endless! By bidding on all these variations, PPC is allowing you to receive guaranteed impressions on these searches that position you as a high fashion sock provider. The more your ad is seen on searches like this, the more the target market will associate your brand with a high fashion, quality product.

Create the Right Brand Association with PPC

Apply that same principle to any industry you might be working in. Don’t settle for basic product descriptions with your keyword lists. Take some time to figure out the associations you want people to have with your brand, and bid on those targeted keywords. Write ad copy that’s relevant but also further enhances the image you are trying to create for yourself.

The beautiful thing with using PPC as a branding tool is how dynamic you can make your messaging. New ad copy can be created on a moment’s notice and changed out daily if desired. Need some ads to combat a bad review people are finding online? Not a problem. An ad promoting your good qualities, seen above the bad review, can be up and running in minutes. Want to spotlight a new product offering from your company? Perfect. A fresh set of ads with a solid keyword strategy driving them is your answer.

PPC and Your Long-term SEO Strategy

The important thing to remember here is that PPC can be so much more than a quick way to drive some visits to your site (it certainly does do that very well, though). A wonderful synergy exists between PPC and SEO if you are wise enough to invest in both.

Your online marketing can become much more dynamic and impactful when used as a branding tool. You have the power to create useful brand associations on the SERP, and leverage those associations into a meaningful online presence.

Each piece of the online marketing puzzle is powerful in its own right, but using them all together gives you so much more control over not only your brand and who finds it, but how your brand is perceived online. Go right now and perform a Google search for your company (or client), then come back and ask yourself these two questions:

  • What do people think about when they see this brand name online?
  • What do I WANT people to think about when they see this brand name online?

PPC, SEO, and an online branding strategy will give you the chance to take control and create the answers to those questions for your brand!

Rob Hughes
Rob Hughes is a Paid Search Analyst at Big Leap who enjoys the creative aspect of online paid advertising. In his free time, Rob is a 3x Intramural Champion, a 17x Intramural Loser, and an avid climber of local mountains.