A typical growth bottleneck many SaaS companies fall victim to is that they develop tunnel vision and only focus on one digital marketing solution, SEO or PPC. In some instances, the SEO & PPC campaigns are led by separate teams that rarely have any communication.
In this article, we’ll discuss these two digital marketing solutions: the value they drive, how tunnel vision ultimately results in growth stagnation, and how leveraging the two as a unified marketing vehicle allows SaaS companies to maximize bottom line revenue.
Even though SEO and PPC differ significantly, they have often been considered the two strongest pillars of digital marketing that are interdependent yet are at their strongest when unified and optimized correctly. This unique harmonious relationship, when used properly, can drastically improve the performance and outcomes of your digital marketing strategy.
Before I explain how to use SEO & PPC to form a symbiotic partnership properly, we need to ensure that we define both digital marketing solutions adequately.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is defined as the highly focused and hands-on process of getting individual pages of your website to rank higher in the search engines. The strategy revolves around improving the quality and quantity of organic visitors to your website. Organic traffic is defined as web visitors that are gained without the use of paid traffic.
This includes direct traffic, people typing your domain directly into their web browser. It can also involve referring traffic from other websites that link to your website, including the result of people searching for videos, images, or academic databases.
If the definition of SEO overwhelms you, no worries, the benefits will make more sense. Despite the stigma of being an ongoing process that takes a year, Alo Media Group takes a hyper-focused approach, our typical engagements lasting no longer than six months and implementing strategies and campaigns that drive long-term quantifiable results.
Some tangible benefits efficiently improve your website's visibility, which directly correlates to an increased number of leads, demos booked, and closed sales via the website. Websites with a strong SEO presence tend to capture more bottom-of-the-funnel traffic from people looking for the services/product your company offers. This high intent leads to your website converting at a higher rate, even better than the best PPC campaigns. This directly correlates to long-term ROI for SEO campaigns being stronger than PPC. However, compared to PPC campaigns, SEO requires a smaller investment, typically content development or technical website optimizations, that drive traffic long after the initial investment. The most significant benefit of running a successful SEO campaign is that you're not paying for every website visitor that comes to your website organically, opposite of PPC as the name suggests: pay-per-click.
With all the pros listed above, you may think you must cut your PPC campaigns and go in on an SEO campaign.
HOLD YOUR HORSES!
You should be aware of a few drawbacks to only focusing on SEO.
Namely, SEO is a long-term play where optimization can take weeks to several months to generate meaningful results for your SaaS. In addition, the technical component of SEO requires a deep understanding of the complex issues and constant education as the search engines are an ever-evolving landscape as Google's algorithm updates daily and ranking fluctuates.
With Google's algorithm constantly evolving, positive results require maintenance to maintain ranking positions for your top keywords. The competitive landscape of SEO can also be discouraging as your competitors may have a strong domain authority and an older website, which Google factors into rankings. As a result, your startup's new website will struggle to establish itself on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Like SEO, PPC is an acronym for Pay-Per-Click. It is an advertising model that allows digital marketers to run ads on any ad platform (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, for example) and pay the platform for every time their ads receive a click. The goal of PPC is to funnel as many leads to visit your website as possible. Once the lead arrives at the website, they are sent to a landing page to drive their customer decision journey towards purchasing your SaaS product or booking a demo. For example, when running Google Ads, the goal is to be listed first or at least "above-the-fold" in the SERPs, ahead of the organic research results we discussed.
A solid PPC campaign has many benefits; every SaaS should invest some of its marketing budget to develop an effective strategy. First, PPC is great for websites looking to build awareness; this is because it provides companies with newer websites to bypass the SEO requirements needed to be positioned first in the search results. Also, PPC provides SaaS companies the opportunity to reach their desired users beyond the SERP through outbound marketing (Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn) or even display and video (YouTube). Finally, even though PPC is similar to SEO on a technical level, it allows you to forecast your traffic growth to allow for more predictability.
As with SEO, they are many drawbacks of solely focusing on PPC. However, these drawbacks are primarily concentrated around costs. First, depending on the CPC (Cost per Click), targeting specific keywords can be very expensive, depending on how competitive the ad auctions are.
PPC is also subject to the Law of Diminishing returns. As advertising spending increases, the marginal gain decreases as Google bids on the best-performing keywords before moving on to lower-performing ones.
Therefore increasing the budget of your paid campaigns means targeting more keywords, which often leads to more of your ad spend is used for lower-performing keywords than before, attributing to an increase in CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) for leads. The competitiveness of ad campaigns and the results are handicapped by budget, and if the budget is nonexistent, PPC will yield less impressive results. Finally, although SEO and PPC contrast, PPC is fundamentally similar to SEO and requires an overlapping skill set and continuous education as the PPC landscape changes over time.
As outlined, both methods have pros and cons; however, when used together, they are the most effective. In the rest of this article, we will investigate the impacts, advantages, and tactics that can arise from using SEO & PPC as a couple instead of individually.
As mentioned in this article, SEO and PPC have a similar technical background that must be considered. They solve similar problems and achieve goals such as increased website traffic and building killer brand awareness. Most importantly, they generate conversions such as demos booked and purchases.
Given that they share similar end goals, many situations arise where one campaign's actions directly affect the other. These can include multiple impressions from the same user from one particular keyword, multi-touch conversions, and even the finding more effective keywords.
To further drive these points, let's use this example scenario. It's prevalent for SaaS companies to bid on their own branded search terms; for example, who would bid on the term "Alo Media Group." This is considered a best practice in the paid media industry. However, a few times, exceptions to the industry's best practices arise. For example, we recently worked with a SaaS that experienced the problem of current users attempting to log in to their client portal but were directed to a landing page whose goal was for visitors to book demos. After their current users realized that they clicked the search results, they would quickly leave the landing page before taking any actions.
This is a common scenario that occurs and can be prevented by creating an exclusion list containing their current customers. This example highlights what happens when you examine PPC campaigns from a holistic perspective; because no competitors are bidding on the exact branded keyword phrases, our client was essentially paying for two search results to appear concurrently. By the end of this article, we will explain how some marketers do this intentionally and how it can be viewed as a good thing.
Branded keywords with a low search volume and a lower difficulty score mean that your website will have an easier time ranking in the top search engines. In addition, the competition in the PPC ad auctions will also be limited because of the low search volumes. So, with top-ranking search results and no one bidding on this branded keyword, I often ask myself why they should continue bidding on that keyword?
The number one results in an organic search have approximately 40% CTR. A website’s CTR fluctuates as more paid search ads are run; however, the cost for acquiring new users increases dramatically with every paid search click. Many statistics suggest users would have clicked on the organic search result. This scenario illustrates the importance of understanding both sides of SEO & PPC when creating your digital marketing solution.
Linking your Google Ads, Tag Manager, and Analytics allows you to receive more insights about your websites than if you didn't combine these platforms. This is because you're increasing the keywords, traffic, and website engagement you receive. As I mentioned earlier, your Paid Ads Campaign is far more responsive than SEO with results as data is generated almost instantly. This can ease the pressure of having your website drive traffic organically, while your SEO strategy will take longer to develop over a long period of time.
Alo Media Group isn't in the business of reinventing the digital marketing wheel, as this marketing alignment has been long since set in stone. However, more innovative marketers have invented some new ideas, including; retargeting ads to the people who have already visited your website organically.
You should consider organic keyword coverage when creating your digital marketing campaign.
What is Organic Keyword Coverage?
SERP Dominance is a common technique used to combat the effects of losing your organic keyword position. The lower CTR, the more pages on your website drop in the SERP. Paid search ads are displayed before organic results, allowing you to ensure your website receives the proper amount of user impressions. Sometimes, we utilize organic keywords to maximize your real estate in the SERPs.
A/B testing your website's content, messaging, or conversion rate optimization (CRO) is another strategy to implement. By testing different versions of your content and messaging, any positive results can be implemented organically and through your PPC campaign's landing pages to bolster your website's conversion rate and user retention.
As always, we have saved the best for last; integrating PPC and SEO allows you to double the data collected, and more data leads to more visibility and insights towards consumer data, keywords, consumer data, and the list forever.
DATA IS YOUR SaaS's BEST FRIEND!
Data is what all great digital marketing campaigns are built on, providing you with critical insights, like a custom roadmap to success. Sharing data between your SEO & PPC campaigns allows marketing professionals to clearly articulate the roadmap while providing more details and driving more traffic to your website.
Your PPC campaign is a short-term solution when compared to SEO, as SEO can take weeks or even months to rank for a particular keyword. Furthermore, if the keyword has a low CTR (click-through rate), the weeks (or even months) of working to improve rankings with SEO can go to waste.
Combining your SEO and PPC campaigns can generate results within a few days. Leveraging SEO & PPC to test specific keywords, topics, and messaging with the proper headlines and tags can help you develop a lifetime's worth of data that can be used to create a more accurate and successful SEO Campaign.
THIS IS BECAUSE DATA IS KING!
PPC helps your digital marketing team make more informed decisions by determining what keywords have the highest conversion rates that can be passed along to your SEO team that can work towards ranking organically.
Writing about SEO and PPC without talking about SERPs would not be ethical. However, you may have gotten to this point in the article and not have a clear-cut definition of what a SERP is. So it stands for Search Engine Results Page, and the real estate above the fold on the SERP is what keeps many digital marketers up at night and away from their families.
Total world domination doesn't compare to dominating the SERPs, and like war, getting pushed to the second signals defeat. Frequently, organic results are pushed so far down the page that they are no longer visible above the fold; PPC and SEO must work together to ensure brand visibility. Companies that develop a PPC campaign gain ad spots above the fold, and when combined with SEO, they can also earn a top organic spot, taking up more digital real estate in the SERP and can work towards dominating the internet.
It's becoming increasingly important to own as much real estate in the SERPs with Google expanding its features on what seems like a daily basis. These features include:
As you can see, the SERPs have many features that provide a plethora of information to the user without them ever having to leave the results page. These features are quite insightful and valuable; however, they make obtaining a click even more problematic as it crowds the results page.
As stated many times before, SEO and PPC campaigns are heavily focused on keywords to actively achieve impressions in the SERP by targeting the correct keywords. Nailing down the user intent and where they are in their customer journey should be the number one priority when it comes to keyword research and can be bucketed into the following groups:
With your PPC campaign, you should avoid paying for educational-intent words and focus on more transactional and solutions-based keywords as they are lower-funnel, higher-intent than education. With your SEO campaign, on the other hand, you should consider ranking for educational-based keywords for brand awareness.
If you're reading this, it's not too late, and you have a genuine interest in improving the results of your digital marketing campaigns. SEO and PPC are 2 of the most critical components of a robust digital marketing strategy since they aim to achieve similar results through different means.
Despite being two completely different solutions, the common benefits between the methodologies provide SaaS companies ample opportunities to align these campaigns. Additionally, investing in both practices allows you to yield higher volumes of website traffic, data, and even conversion.
If you want to learn more about how you can implement lasting SEO & PPC strategies, reach out to us; we're happy to help (: