When launching a digital brand, PPC can be a great way to immediately break into a new market and start generating website traffic. But with rising CPCs and unmitigated click fraud, PPC can also get really expensive quickly. Even the most skilled digital marketers can struggle to run profitable Google Ads campaigns.
For this reason, getting more out of your PPC spend is not just about properly optimizing; it’s about using all of that PPC data to shape a smarter SEO strategy. In this article, I’ll break down how to use your Google Ads campaigns as prospecting tools for SEO.
Why PPC is an effective short term strategy, but SEO is the long game.
With PPC, it’s critical to remember that you’re in essence “renting” visits to your website in the short-term.
Brands that rely heavily on revenue from paid than organic search are only one crisis away from having their business turn upside down. The moment you stop paying for search ads is the moment your traffic dries up.
You can certainly jumpstart traffic with paid search, but if you’re on a budget this strategy can be difficult to maintain.
Unlike PPC, organic SEO allows brands to earn that same traffic without paying, and if done correctly, continue to benefit over time. That doesn’t mean Google Ads can’t be a valuable part of your marketing strategy, but putting all your eggs in one basket can come back to haunt you.
Depending on the competition and the rate at which you build your site authority, seeing the rewards of SEO can take months. That’s why PPC is one of my favorite ways to quickly start testing out digital strategy and sales processes.
To prospect well, you need to properly optimize your Google Ads campaign
Before we look at how PPC campaigns can help with SEO, it’s critical to ensure you’re already optimizing your PPC campaigns first.
There is a lot that goes into optimizing Google Ads campaigns, here are some
1) Take an iterative approach
Most likely, your first campaign will not be profitable. But an unprofitable campaign can still give you loads of information about your set of keyword targets, bid amounts, ad formats, and the details you need to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns .
For example, if your ad is being triggered for irrelevant search terms or generating the wrong types of clicks, add those terms to your negative keyword list. If your ads are earning impressions but not clicks, revise your ad copy and work towards making them more relevant.
In terms of the ideal length of a PPC campaign, I recommend you have enough monthly budget to acquire at least a few hundred clicks (you need enough conversions to calculate a statistically significant conversion rate.) In my experience three months of PPC budget is enough time to iterate your optimizations and prospect for SEO.
Make small adjustments, monitor your results, then implement new changes accordingly.
2) Use single keyword ad groups
Many PPC managers agree that one of the best optimization practices is single keyword ad groups. Yes, it takes more work for your marketing teams, but pages with the most relevant ad copy will generally improve click-through-rate and conversions.
Single Keyword AdGroup Structure (Image source: LinkGraph)
I find the SKAG campaign structure to be incredibly helpful, and it uses only one keyword per ad group (rather than one ad group targeting multiple keywords). SKAGs make it easier to determine which keywords will perform well or not for SEO because:
3) Write highly-targeted ad copy and utilize A/B testing
If you’re structuring your campaigns properly and using SKAGs, you can create unique text ads for each target keyword in an ad group. With the Google Ads built-in A/B testing feature, you can also test out different headlines or descriptions to see which performs better.
With the “Optimize,” ad rotation setting, ad served get weighted toward the ad that statistically appears to perform better. To run a proper A/B test, you need to have a clearly defined variant that you are testing, as well as two sets of ad copy that are unique enough to produce different results. In the below example, the description is the variant being tested, and the data shows that the B variant performed better (despite far fewer impressions).
Example of Google Ads A/B testing feature
One of the most common pitfalls of A/B testing is that advertisers test out too many variants making it difficult to determine why one ad performed better over another. For this reason, it’s important to only test one variant at a time.