Many e-commerce retailers consider their PPC and SEO marketing strategies to be separate entities. Sometimes, they are even viewed as alternatives to one another, with brands only investing in one at a time.
Of course, this is a tragic mistake as PPC and SEO strategies are necessary to integrate into one another for a site to reach its fullest potential in the SERPs.
SEO is a method for increasing a site’s organic traffic through enhanced visibility and site authority. Alternatively, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising seeks to generate traffic through carefully created and targeted adverts in search engines, social and other popular online destinations.
While each is different, they both aim to achieve similar goals. Moreover, SEO and PPC strategies are often reliant on one another, feeding the other with vital information for helping to improve the performance of the other.
To fully understand the symbiotic relationship between these two marketing methodologies, let’s explore these two tactics in-depth, how they are different, how they are alike and outline precisely how SEO and PPC feed each other’s outcomes.
SEO and PPC: The differences
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the discipline that aims to increase the quality and quantity of traffic that a site receives from search engines such as Google or Bing. There are a variety of SEO techniques for improving rankings, including content creation, technical optimization, link building and other such activities.
On the other hand, PPC advertising is a model of digital marketing where advertisers pay an allotted amount each time an individual clicks one of their adverts.
While these two tactics are both encompassed under the umbrella of search engine marketing (SEM), there are some key differences between these two concepts.
Firstly, paid adverts (usually) appear at the top of search engine listings–above the organic rankings–which are influenced by search engine optimization implementations.
Secondly, advertisers who generate traffic from their ads must pay for those site visits. The same is not true of organic listings that obtain clicks as a result of earning visibility by utilizing SEO best practices.
Thirdly, the results generated from PPC campaigns–be it awareness, traffic, conversions or all of the above–is immediate. However, once the promotion ends, a site’s metrics will likely revert to pre-campaign levels.
Alternatively, SEO strategies often take a long time to gain momentum and businesses may not see a return on their investment for many months or even years. However, once a company’s search optimization strategy begins producing results, those changes tend to be long term and extremely prosperous.
SEO and PPC: The similarities
While PPC and SEO are different in many ways, they also share some obvious commonalities.
First off, both tactics aim to drive traffic to a website and are often aimed at generating conversions as well. While one does this through paid means and the other through the slog of climbing the SERPs organically, the end goal remains the same.
Secondly, SEO and PPC are both keyword-driven strategies. While advertisers will conduct keyword research to identify prosperous phrases to bid on and irrelevant ones to exclude through negative keyword lists, SEOs will also analyze relevant terms to understand how to optimize titles, content, technical elements and other critical on-site aspects.
With the differences and similarities of these two strategies outlined, let’s explore how using SEO and PPC together is the formula for search engine success.
How PPC and SEO help each other
Not only is it true that SEO and PPC are often in pursuit of the same ends, but each tactic is actually supportive of the other, producing gains in both campaigns. PPC aids SEO efforts by:
Maximizing SERP coverage
When a site runs PPC advertising, they appear at the top of the search results, thereby being the first thing that searchers see.
When coupled with SEO efforts, a brand can potentially consume a large portion of the SERPs, showcasing adverts at the top and organic listings below. Therefore, if a searcher skips over the ad section and goes directly to the organic rankings, they will find the business there as well.
This effectively allows sites to gain double the exposure they would if only one of these strategies were employed, thereby increasing the chances that the user will click-through to the brand’s site.
Moreover, given that a particular company is so well-represented in the SERPs, this provides consumers with enhanced confidence that the business is a reputable one that provides quality products or services.
By combining PPC and SEO, organizations can more effectively guide prospects to their site and encourage engagement among consumers.
PPC and SEO are both heavily dependent on keyword optimization to surface for related searches. For businesses to surface in the SERPs for relevant queries, they must target the correct words and phrases.
For brands that have been optimizing their sites for search for quite some time, they already possess keyword data that can help inform their PPC campaigns to produce better outcomes.
However, for those that are new to SEO, gauging the effectiveness of their efforts can be a challenge given that results take time to show. But, since PPC campaigns generate immediate results, advertisers can harvest keywords that have proven to be profitable and pass that information along to SEO teams to optimize pages for enhanced visibility and traffic.
Utilizing keyword information from PPC campaigns can help SEOs to understand the types of terms that users are searching to uncover a company’s pages. Instead of waiting on SEO data to begin rolling in, marketers can utilize PPC data to make the necessary adjustments to SEO campaigns.
Then, when SEO results do begin to show, that information can be fed back to PPC advertisers to help elevate the effectiveness of their promotions.
Elevated brand awareness
When a consumer clicks a PPC advert, they are taken to a landing page where they learn about a business and its offerings. From there, they might explore a site further to get a better gauge for the brand. In other instances, they might get distracted and bounce from the page.
While this may feel a bit disheartening, that consumer just became aware of the company and what it offers through the PPC ad. When that individual searches for similar products or services in the future, they are likely to remember their interaction with the company’s website and click on its organic listings.
As prospective customers grow increasingly familiar with a brand, they are more likely to engage with its organically listed content, thereby resulting in elevated levels of traffic and (potentially) conversions.
In the end, PPC advertising helps to generate awareness for a business, even if prospects don’t immediately convert, which can lead to more organic traffic in the future.
These are just a handful of the ways that SEO and PPC benefit one another.
However, if business owners don’t understand how to track and measure this information, this explanation is all for naught.
How to track and measure performance
The fact is that different businesses are going to have different objectives. Since the KPIs used to measure these goals will vary, we will explore this topic through the two most common targets of an online business: Traffic and conversions.
A business’s SEM goals don’t have to be complicated. However, they shouldn’t be overly simplistic, either.
Therefore, goals should cover information like:
- The desired amount of traffic to generate
- The budget to be spent on such leads
- The timeline to earn the traffic within
There are a variety of important PPC KPIs that advertisers should measure. However, in the context of this conversation, the most critical ones to monitor are click-through rates and conversions.
By analyzing the click-throughs and conversions generated by specific keywords, advertising can understand which terms are proving fruitful in getting consumers to take the desired action and generating revenue for a company.
Keywords that have shown to be the most beneficial can then be fed to a business’s SEO department for on-site optimization and content creation.
From the SEO side of things, Google Analytics is going to be their primary resource for measuring the outcomes of optimization efforts. The KPIs that these individuals will want to analyze include:
- Keyword rankings
- Time spent on page
- Organic traffic
- Organic conversions
Measuring these metrics through Google Analytics will let site owners know if they are targeting the right keywords, if consumers are finding a site with those terms, if users find their on-site experience engaging and if visitors are converting as a result.
By measuring and tracking this information, PPC and SEO teams can work together to elevate the performance and profitability of each methodology.
SEO and PPC have a lot in common, mostly that they each work in driving business goals.
Since these two tactics are intrinsically linked, it is imperative that retailers learn how to feed information back and forth between their SEO and PPC teams as this is the true secret to dominating the competition in the SERPs.
More about digital commerce marketing
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Ronald Dod is the chief marketing officer and co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end e-commerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
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Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is
MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.
The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.
Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple
Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.
Amazon and Google are more trusted than Apple is with consumer’s personal data according to a survey
However, 39% said that they trust Amazon by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.
By adding up the scores in the positive categories,
Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.
Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.
Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.
74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive
The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.
The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?
Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”
The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”
Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.
When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”
Google’s John Mueller on Brand Mentions via @sejournal, @martinibuster
What’s A Brand Mention?
A brand mention is when one website mentions another website. There is an idea in the SEO community that when a website mentions another website’s domain name or URL that Google will see this and count it the same as a link.
Brand Mentions are also known as an implied link. Much was written about this ten years ago after a Google patent that mentions “implied links” surfaced.
There has never been a solid review of why the idea of “brand mentions” has nothing to do with this patent, but I’ll provide a shortened version later in this article.
John Mueller Discussing Brand Mentions
Do Brand Mentions Help With Rankings?
The person asking the question wanted to know about brand mentions for the purpose of ranking. The person asking the question has good reason to ask it because the idea of “brand mentions” has never been definitively reviewed.
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The person asked the question:
“Do brand mentions without a link help with SEO rankings?”
Google Does Not Use Brand Mentions
Google’s John Mueller answered that Google does not use the “brand mentions” for any link related purpose.
“From my point of view, I don’t think we use those at all for things like PageRank or understanding the link graph of a website.
And just a plain mention is sometimes kind of tricky to figure out anyway.”
That part about it being tricky is interesting.
He didn’t elaborate on why it’s tricky until later in the video where he says it’s hard to understand the subjective context of a website mentioning another website.
Brand Mentions Are Useful For Building Awareness
Mueller next says that brand mentions may be useful for helping to get the word out about a site, which is about building popularity.
“But it can be something that makes people aware of your brand, and from that point of view, could be something where indirectly you might have some kind of an effect from that in that they search for your brand and then …obviously, if they’re searching for your brand then hopefully they find you right away and then they can go to your website.
And if they like what they see there, then again, they can go off and recommend that to other people as well.”
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“Brand Mentions” Are Problematic
Later on at the 58 minute mark another person brings the topic back up and asks how Google could handle spam sites that are mentioning a brand in a negative way.
The person said that one can disavow links but one cannot disavow a “brand mention.”
Mueller agreed and said that’s one of things that makes brand mentions difficult to use for ranking purposes.
John Mueller explained:
“Kind of understanding the almost the subjective context of the mention is really hard.
Is it like a positive mention or a negative mention?
Is it a sarcastic positive mention or a sarcastic negative mention? How can you even tell?
And all of that, together with the fact that there are lots of spammy sites out there and sometimes they just spin content, sometimes they’re malicious with regards to the content that they create…
All of that, I think, makes it really hard to say we can just use that as the same as a link.
…It’s just, I think, too confusing to use as a clear signal.”
Where “Brand Mentions” Come From
The idea of “brand mentions” has bounced around for over ten years.
There were no research papers or patents to support it. “Brand mentions” is literally an idea that someone invented out of thin air.
However the “brand mention” idea took off in 2012 when a patent surfaced that seemed to confirm the idea of brand mentions.
There’s a whole long story to this so I’m just going to condense it.
There’s a patent from 2012 that was misinterpreted in several different ways because most people at the time, myself included, did not read the entire patent from beginning to end.
The patent itself is about ranking web pages.
The structure of most Google patents consist of introductory paragraphs that discuss what the patent is about and those paragraphs are followed by pages of in-depth description of the details.
The introductory paragraphs that explain what it’s about states:
“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs… for ranking search results.”
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Pretty much nobody read that beginning part of the patent.
Everyone focused on a single paragraph in the middle of the patent (page 9 out of 16 pages).
In that paragraph there is a mention of something called “implied links.”
The word “implied” is only mentioned four times in the entire patent and all four times are contained within that single paragraph.
So when this patent was discovered, the SEO industry focused on that single paragraph as proof that Google uses brand mentions.
In order to understand what an “implied link” is, you have to scroll all the way back up to the opening paragraphs where the Google patent authors describe something called a “reference query” that is not a link but is nevertheless used for ranking purposes just like a link.
What Is A Reference Query?
A reference query is a search query that contains a reference to a URL or a domain name.
The patent states:
“A reference query for a particular group of resources can be a previously submitted search query that has been categorized as referring to a resource in the particular group of resources.”
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Elsewhere the patent provides a more specific explanation:
“A query can be classified as referring to a particular resource if the query includes a term that is recognized by the system as referring to the particular resource.
…search queries including the term “example.com” can be classified as referring to that home page.”
The summary of the patent, which comes at the beginning of the document, states that it’s about establishing which links to a website are independent and also counting reference queries and with that information creating a “modification factor” which is used to rank web pages.
“…determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group;”
The entire patent largely rests on those two very important factors, a count of independent inbound links and the count of reference queries. The phrases reference query and reference queries are used 39 times in the patent.
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As noted above, the reference query is used for ranking purposes like a link, but it’s not a link.
The patent states:
“An implied link is a reference to a target resource…”
It’s clear that in this patent, when it mentions the implied link, it’s talking about reference queries, which as explained above simply means when people search using keywords and the domain name of a website.
Idea of Brand Mentions Is False
The whole idea of “brand mentions” became a part of SEO belief systems because of how that patent was misinterpreted.
But now you have the facts and know why “brand mentions” is not real thing.
Plus John Mueller confirmed it.
“Brand mentions” is something completely random that someone in the SEO community invented out of thin air.
Watch John Mueller discuss “brand mentions” at 44:10 Minute Mark and the brand Mentions second part begins at the 58:12 minute mark
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