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SEOs Should Pay More Attention to PPC

Aaron Wall [1] recently wrote a great post on SEO Book about using PPC methods and data to inform SEO decisions. SEOs typically work toward the goal of having search engine results ranked as high as possible for targeted keywords. But as Google continues to integrate more advertising, local results, and universal results into its SERPs, organic results are being pushed down the page – below the fold in some cases. Perform a geo-specific search for a service in your city, and you’ll see what I mean. Here is one that’s popular with local celebrities:

los-angeles-rehab-serp [2]

Now, more than ever, it is important to remember that organically ranking #1 (or in the top 5) isn’t the end of the game. SEOs need to concentrate on relevance as much as possible. Most search marketers know that when a searcher encounters a result whose title matches their query, that searcher is more likely to click. It makes sense since it appears to be a personalized result (not to mention the fact that the searcher has an attachment to their own query). Therefore, if we know the most common searches (via keyword research tools like Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool), then we can tailor our SEO efforts to create and present a more clickable and/or action-oriented result.

So what about titles and descriptions? If your meta description has keywords that match the searcher’s query, then the copy in that tag is likelier to show on the SERP (instead of the other sources like DMOZ that Google sometimes uses to show snippets). And if that happens, then the searcher is more likely to click on the result. Let’s say, for example, that you are optimizing a category page on your Dwayne Johnson fan site for “movies.” One of your target keywords might be The Scorpion King. Do some research about commonly searched phrases including looking at existing paid results for those phrases, and then incorporate those keywords into the title and meta description tags of the page. A great tool for identifying these longer-tail (and related) keywords for your optimization efforts is Google’s Wonder Wheel.

the-toy-wonder-wheel [3]

Nooooo, not that Wonder Wheel. This Wonder Wheel:

wonder-wheel-scorpion-king [4]

To take it a step further, Aaron Wall suggests looking at PPC landing pages. Since PPC tends to be more action-oriented than SEO, converting the click is more important. But why not for SEO too? Instead of pushing traffic to your home page or a category page (and by “pushing traffic” I mean optimizing a page for one of more keywords with the goal of having that page rank for those target keywords), why not make some action-oriented, cosmetic changes that are more welcoming to search engine visitors. Click through some of the top paid results on the SERP for your target keyword (Why not, right? They’re footing the bill) and see what those landing pages look like.

So thanks to Aaron for reminding me that PPC methology has an important place in SEO conversations. It’s a conversation that all SEOs should be having right now.

About Drew Hubbard

Drew has over 8 years experience in the Internet space, including hands-on web development, technical support, online marketing and all aspects of SEO, SEM, social media, email marketing, lead generation and affiliate marketing programs. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri and a graduate of The University of Missouri, Drew moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to continue a marketing career in film and television. He soon transitioned exclusively to online marketing and in the spring of 2008 joined The Search Agency where he manages innovative promotions and social media programs. Most recently, Drew has spoken about video optimization at SMX West and ad:tech.