When it comes to digital marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential to success. Without investing in high-quality SEO campaign, your brand is likely to die a slow, painful and unnoticed death in the barren wilderness of the digital desert. It sounds brutal right? Unfortunately, the digital landscape is changing faster than ever and companies need to keep adapting in the constant fight for survival. This means that, amongst other things, it is necessary to constantly monitor, adjust and improve the way we do SEO.
Although there are many different (and often costly) tools and services out there to help with this, there is another approach that is completely overlooked by many businesses – harnessing the power of your AdWords commitment. If you are already using Adwords, the chances are that after some initial tweaking you have hit upon a strategy that is generating conversions and making a return on investment. So why not make your AdWords spend work even harder for you by mining the data to inform your SEO decisions?
With Adwords offering such a tremendous amount of data on keyword performance and an unparalleled level of depth, combined with the ability to fully track user interactions, it makes perfect sense to drill into this valuable data to steer your wider SEO campaign – and by this we mean much more than simply using Adwords to test keywords.
Part 1: Using Adwords to understand and improve Content
Heads or tails?
There has been a lot of talk over recent years about the value of using long-tail search terms – specific keyword phrases that comprise of three or more keywords and are used to target more specific traffic. Such keywords are popular as they tend to be high performing and lower cost due to the reduced competition on them. However, whilst many tools can come up with plenty of suggestions, only your Adwords data will be able to tell you whether a keyword is driving traffic and conversions for the specific long-tail term (a full phrase match) or if the much broader ‘head’ word is generating traffic. If the latter is the case, it may be worth looking at introducing and testing more long-tail terms within your overall SEO.
Google Analytics will give you a lot of information about which landing pages are performing well in terms of traffic, and the proportion of mobile versus desktop views. However, only Adwords can allow you to drill down and get a deeper understanding of how many of your PPC conversions come from mobile vs desktop. Segmenting data in Adwords can identify whether, for example, a PPC specific, mobile landing page is a good converter – and whether you can apply what is working well to your wider SEO.A further key aspect that only Adwords can provide data on is the all-important landing page experience, as well as the specific search term that took the visitor there – a powerful way to understand the user intent, helping you to further enhance relevant pages.
Adwords allows you to review how many impressions any given keyword has got – and some keywords will inevitably get a very high number of impressions. This is valuable information to mine. If you get a term that has high impressions, high click through and high conversion, this is great – go back to your SEO and make sure this term is well represented so you can rank for it.
On the other hand, you might encounter a keyword with high impressions but low click-through. In this case, it is worth digging deeper to understand why. Is it because the content on the page is simply not working for the search? In this case, look at what can be improved to make the content more relevant. Do you need to add more information? By nature, addressing this within your PPC campaign will also enhance your overall SEO.
Of all the data available in Adwords, quality score is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider – not just because it can dramatically affect the success of your PPC campaign but also because few things provide a more holistic analysis of how your keywords and page content are working together. Quality scores in SEO ultimately dictate the cost and effectiveness of your PPC campaign and for want of a better metaphor, are not unlike credit scores when you want to secure a mortgage. Suffice to say, they matter. Big time. Although nobody outside of Google knows the algorithm and exact weightings, the key components of Quality Score are:
- Your click-through rate (CTR).
- The relevance of each keyword to its ad group.
- Landing page quality and relevance.
- The relevance of your ad text.
- Your historical AdWords account performance.
At the heart of the quality score concept is the relevance of any given landing page to what your audience is looking for – and only Adwords can give you that information. Armed with this information, you can systematically add or adjust content on landing pages to increase their quality and relevance, which in turn can help you to improve your SEO by approaching it from a much more deeply informed perspective.
If you’ve been running text ads, Adwords insights will give you plenty of data to understand which headlines are getting results and which ones simply aren’t performing. Armed with this information it is possible to review the way your page is presented, making sure that your page titles reflect those which have shown good performance and structuring your headers, copy and CTA’s accordingly. Do, however, remember to look at not just click-throughs but quality scores too before making changes.
Part 2: Getting to grips with conversions
Something that Adwords allows you to do is assign a conversion value to a keyword. This is what you or your PPC manager has calculated for a given type of conversion, i.e a sale or a brochure request. With this data available to you, it is possible to see which pages are contributing the highest value conversions and optimising them to improve their organic SEO.
1 per click conversions
Let’s imagine that a customer sees your Adwords advertisement for custom T-shirt printing and clicks to view your online store. They then sign-up to your newsletter, and eventually order their first product. This would be registered as a 1-per-click conversion – and give you a unique insight into customer behaviour. Did they follow the steps you anticipated? Did a page component interrupt the predicted flow? All of this can help to improve page layout, headings, CTA’s and more to not just boost conversions but also improve your SEO ranking.
Conversion value per click
This is, in simple terms, SEO gold. Why? Because ultimately, what is more important than the number of clicks a given keyword generates is the value of the clicks it generates. Even if they account for a very small number of overall clicks, high-value keywords should be explored so that you can unlock their SEO value.
Conversion value vs cost
In some cases, you may find that a keyword has a high conversion value, but also has a disproportionately high cost, making it inefficient for a PPC campaign. Such keywords, however, still have high value in your SEO campaign. If competitors have focussed their attention on PPC for certain terms, turning your own attention to claiming their organic value may give you a competitive edge for certain keywords.
Part 3 – Adwords vs Analytics
One of the key advantages of Adwords over Analytics is the ability to follow a journey through based on a specific keyword which makes it so strong to use that data for SEO.
This rich data can often offer you an insight into the mind of a searcher. Industry specific terms that you use internally may not always translate into the real or be what Joe Public uses. These key insights offer more opportunities to expand, fine tune or completely re-engineer your current SEO strategy.
Testing different Ads within Google AdWords also provides data on which Page Titles and Meta Descriptions work best.
Ad Headline = Page Title
Ad Description = Meta Description
Analysing behaviour based on testing different ads may display a clear winner that can influence your SEO efforts.
Whether you are unlocking old data in AdWords from times gone by or just starting out in the world of paid search, it can unlock new opportunities and provide much more value than the pay-per-click offer appears to on the surface.