When we think of Google and how it can impact our businesses, or our clients’ bottom line, two main areas come to mind: AdWords and SEO. AdWords being Google’s ads that dominate the top spots and represent their cha-ching machine, while SEO is the process of optimising your website and content to increase organic rankings naturally, over time (as you are probably totally aware of).
AdWords is hugely popular, first and foremost because it is instant; once set up, your ads (and website) are on Google’s first pages. Secondly, it’s tangible in the sense that you know what you get: for example, £1 for one click, or however many ££s a keyword cost per click (CPC) is. Whereas SEO is more complicated, with the juiciest results often evolving in the later stages of a mid-long term campaign.
With this in mind, it’s common for AdWords to be a business’s first step into its Google strategy, not only to determine proof of concept, but also to simply get some results!
So let’s fast track. Your AdWords are now working well and there is no doubt that while you pay Google, they are paying you back with leads. SEO should be your next step (also as the lion’s share of search traffic will go to organic links), but how do you use your AdWords campaign to influence your SEO efforts?
While your top notch AdWords will not directly affect your organic rankings, it can certainly help provide some insight into some key SEO aspects. I am here to explain how to find and leverage some of them.
Your Google AdWords heading and copy are very similar in function to title tags and meta descriptions, which are SEO basics 101. For AdWords they are used to highlight who you are and what you do and the more relevant (and informative), the more likely you are to receive that click. The AdWords title is there to act as the heading, with your ads copy filling the meta description field.
It is no different from an organic search perspective. The title tag and meta descriptions are the two core elements which appear on the SERPs and they will tell the user how relevant you are, just like AdWords. To leverage your AdWords data, find the ads that get the highest CTR percentage (not clicks); you may find that they all share similar characteristics in format/wording/appearance/style that you can then use to influence your title tags and meta descriptions in organic search. You already know it works for your AdWords, so why not apply them to your SEO strategy!?
A major component of your SEO campaign will likely focus on optimising your website to target specific, valuable and relevant keywords. As such, you are at a big advantage if you have an AdWords campaign with pre existing data which can be used to influence your SEO strategy. There are two aspects to look at.
First, you should inspect your overall traffic. This should really go without saying, but the keywords that are getting you the most impressions, clicks and conversions on AdWords are probably going to be pretty useful for your SEO strategy.
Secondly, you should (and I do hope you are) be monitoring your ‘search terms’ tab in Adwords to see what phrases are actually triggering your Ad, i.e what users are actually typing into the search bar and subsequently clicking on your ads. Use this to find trends and long tail phrases to include in your SEO campaign, potentially gaining some quicker wins and more targeted traffic.
If you have a business… you have competitors; even if you don’t think you do, you probably do. If keyword CPCs are higher than expected, or keep climbing in your AdWords campaign, this is often an indication of a competitive environment (Adwords operates on a bidding system). By default then, you can expect that your organic search competition will be increasing as well.
It pays to look at what impression and outrank shares you have with AdWords; this can help give you an idea of who actually are your closest competitors, at least in terms of AdWords. If your competitors are investing in AdWords, there is a good chance that they will be doing the same for their own SEO. Find them, assess them, learn from their mistakes and adjust your SEO campaign accordingly.
Please tell me you have set up conversion tracking via AdWords? If you haven’t you are not allowed to read more until you do – I will even tell you how to do it here. If you already are then this one is very straightforward. You already know what keywords and Ads get you the most meaningful conversions; these should be added as high priority keywords to target for SEO.
This one spans AdWords and Google Analytics. The AdWords dashboard can provide basic info (age, gender, locations) and Analytics can help expand it, albeit do take it with a grain of salt. This is useful when it comes to building your content strategy. Any inbound marketing campaign should be based upon Buyer Persona research so you can ensure that you are catering to their requirements.
In conclusion, your SEO should never be a complete mirror of an AdWords campaign, no matter how successful it is. But on the other hand, there are significant benefits to be gained by utilising the months, or years, that you have spent running your Adwords campaign. This Google based data should help influence your strategy and execution of another Google based marketing channel.