Search: Walking Google’s Highwire

5 keys to balancing SEO and PPC

Here are five must-do activities that will help you successfully balance your SEO and PPC efforts while focusing on the business results:

1. Develop and Hone Attribution Models
To fully understand and balance the contribution of SEO and PPC to your marketing success, you must develop solid attribution models that consider all the channels involved in your online marketing.

As more elements flow into the mix, including traffic and sales that are assisted by social media or from mobile apps, you must go well beyond last-click attribution to adequately fund each marketing effort. If you don’t, it’s easy to overstate the value of paid search and undervalue other referring sources, which lack the tracking capabilities of paid search landing pages. This is far from a trivial task, and there is no school solution.

2. Determine Incremental Gains From PPC
Recent research challenges the thinking that there is an absolute synergy in the interaction of PPC ads appearing on pages where you have high-ranking terms. They can interact negatively. A 2011 study by Google found 89 percent of traffic from paid search ads is incremental.

A subsequent Google study has shown that this percentage varies relative to SEO success for the same terms. This means you must carefully evaluate the SEO performance of your site for a broad range of key terms, particularly if your site has strong SEO results.

3. Pick Keywords Holistically for SEO and PPC
Avoid “silo thinking,” where you separate your paid search activities and results from your organic search. Use the data from each type of search to benefit the other.

In October 2011, Google stopped providing the organic keyword referrer from signed-in users of Google’s organic search. Initial estimates were that this change would impact less than 10 percent of searches. This estimate considerably understated the actual impact of the change. A year later, many site owners have experienced double-digit losses of keyword referrers.

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