Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How PPC and Organic Rankings Help Each Other

Left or right. Black or white. Night or day.

Where’s the middle ground?

All too often, I encounter people who approach Search Marketing as an “Either/Or” proposition. They somehow think that they should either do organic listings, or Pay-per-click. They don’t seem to catch the vision that the two can support each other, in an almost yin-yang sorta way.

But before we dive into that, let’s make sure we’re all up on our terms.

“Pay-Per-Click” refers to the process of buying advertising space on a search engine and it’s related sites. Usually, they are text ads that appear in a column to the far right of the search results, but sometimes it also includes some space above the listings. These are usually marked “sponsored links” or “sponsored listings”.

“Organic Listings” refers to your site’s rankings in the part of the search engines that’s not paid advertising. These are the more “natural” results of creating a good, content-filled, keyword-rich site, with plenty of inbound links.

Another misconception is that buying PPC ads will somehow get you preferential treatment in the organic listings. There are many that suspect a “payola” thing going on.

I, personally, suspect that those that run the search engines are smarter than that. If they were to breach the appearance of “fairness”, the backlash from the ‘netizenry would be swift and brutal. That being said, I do know that there is a lot that can be gained from a PPC campaign and applied to your organic efforts that would end up benefiting them both. And that brings us back to that Yin/Yang thing I was mentioning earlier.

  1. Jump Starting Traffic

Building up organic ranking can take time. It can be weeks before you even get indexed, and months before you creep up the ladder of search engine success. A major factor in Google’s ranking is simply the age of your site. Do you really want to open your doors and wait months for your customers to find you? No.

An effective PPC campaign can get traffic coming into the site immediately. When you set up your account and your ads, they can literally begin appearing on searches moments after you hit the final “Submit” button. Traffic follows.

And, with traffic can come inbound links. As people come to your site and see your quality and informative content, some will be interested in linking back to you. What do links bring? More traffic, and more search engine link popularity.

It’s also much more encouraging as a web site owner to see traffic and response more immediately.

  1. Identifying cool keywords

This is where PPC can really shine. In the process of creating your PPC account, you choose what keywords and keyphrases you want your ad to appear next to. You get to target your ad to particular searches. There are a lot of tools to help you compare the relative quality and strength of words and terms you apply your ads to. These same tools can help you choose what words to include in your site’s content. If it’s a good keyword for a PPC campaign, it’s a good keyword for your organic listing efforts as well.

Once your ads have been running for a while (and that could actually be as little as a week or two), you’ll also have some data that can help as well. You’ll know how many impressions have been placed for a particular keyword (how many times that ad has appeared in connection with that keyword), and how many clickthroughs as well.

The impressions information will show you how much demand there is for that keyword. The more the ad appears, the more people are searching that word or phrase.

The clickthroughs are even more telling. These are the keywords that people are actually responding to. These are the ones that are working. In both of these cases, it would be wise to revise your site so that they are stronger for those words.

It can work the other way as well. Suppose you’re looking at your site’s traffic report, and you’re noticing a recurring search query in your search engine referring URL’s. Not only can you go back to your site and strengthen that keyword’s prominence there, but you can also add it in to your PPC campaign, or raise it’s impact by that keyword’s bid or budget.

  1. Branding

Since Internet advertising has such trackable results, often people will ignore the value of advertising’s untrackable result. That means branding. Even if people don’t click on your ad, if they’ve seen your ad, and it’s well-made, the ad will still register in their mind. The next time they see it, it registers even more. Before they know it, your business is branded in their mind, and when they’re actually interested in buying what you have, they come to you first.

Branding is the underlying premise behind almost all broadcast advertising. When a Pepsi ad comes on the TV, they don’t expect you to jump from your chair, put on your coat, and go buy a Pepsi. But they know that the more you see it, the more likely you’ll be to buy it when you’re at the convenience store or the market.

So, don’t think of PPC and Organic listings as separate concepts. Think of them as to parts to the whole of Search Marketing, and ultimately, a slice of your whole marketing pie.


Mark is the co-director of http://seotrafficmagnet.com, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome (http://clickincome.com). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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