PPC (pay per click) advertising can be an effective way to promote your products, services, events or even content. It's a cost-effective way to bring in inorganic traffic since you only pay for the clicks your ads receive, which means you're only paying for results. Unfortunately, it's often dismissed as a marketing strategy because many believe it to be inferior to the organic traffic that SEO brings in. What they don't understand is that PPC ads can actually be used to help strengthen your SEO strategy. The following are a number of ways in which PPC and SEO can be used as complementary efforts:
- Test your keywords — PPC ads work by letting you first choose a keyword for your ad, then place a bid on that keyword. Depending on the level of competition for that specific keyword, a search query performed using that keyword could result in your ad being displayed at the top of the SERP (search engine results page). You can use the exact same ad but run it using two different keywords to test the strength of those keywords. If one outperforms the other in terms of views and clicks, it's a keyword worth using in your PPC and SEO strategy; whereas you may want to avoid using keywords that perform poorly.
- Test your title tags — Title tags not only serve as the headlines for your content on SERP, they also tell bots what your page is about. Keeping this in mind, it should be obvious why using correct title tags is so important. If your title tag isn't compelling, users won't click on your link even if it ranks high on their SERP. You can test your titles using PPC ads — if the titles are weak, then you won't get as many click-throughs. Titles that are effective will. Just make sure that your SEO content team has some input in crafting the PPC ad titles as they will need to test specific elements of their title tags.
- Test calls-to-action — You can use PPC ads to test calls-to-action in both the ad copy itself as well as the landing pages that the ads link to. Simple variations in calls-to-action can have a big impact, such as word choice, size, placement and even color. This information can be used to craft the most effective calls-to-action on your blog.
- Test your homepage — Typically, the homepage receives the most traffic out of any page on your site. Its purpose is to provide visitors with information about what you do and to smoothly guide them through the rest of your site. Unfortunately, testing your homepage is not something you can easily do with SEO. This is because creating several different homepages to test will result in search engines indexing all of them, which will create problems with your ranking. You can use PPC to test various homepages as long as you put a global disallow in your robots.txt file so they won't be accidentally indexed. To judge the effectiveness of the homepages you're testing, you'll want to compare engagement on the pages as well as any increase in revenue.
- Test your templates — Generally, a CMS (content management system) won't let you make layout changes to a single page. Instead, you'll have to change the template, which will result in site-wide layout changes. This makes it a bit difficult to test various layouts for SEO purposes. PPC ads can be used to test various templates in the same way that you can test various homepages. If you think that a new template might be more successful than your current one, you'll need to test it using various ads for different products and services to ensure your template will work throughout your entire site. Also, make sure you keep organic traffic in mind when creating new templates to test out, since this is impossible to test with PPC advertising.
The thing about PPC ads is that even if one of them fails, it can still be effective in that it provides you with information on why it potentially failed. This information can be used to ensure your SEO strategy succeeds; it's why PPC and SEO go together so well. A failed PPC ad won't affect you negatively, whereas a failed SEO strategy can have a huge negative impact on your site's search engine ranking. So be sure to use PPC and SEO in conjunction as a way to strengthen your SEO strategy.