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At most large corporations the people who do SEO wear helmets made from colanders lined with aluminum foil to protect their brains from alien tampering while the folks who do PPC cast yarrow stalks and consult the I Ching for auspicious keywords.
That may not be how they see themselves but it’s not far from how others see them. The SEO and PPC teams are entrenched in their separate camps with little communication between them.
It’s an odd entrenchment since PPC and SEO are different ends of a single continuum—keyword marketing. Both serve a common purpose but they serve it in different ways.
I make my living from paid search and even I admit that it’s a lot harder to do SEO than PPC, evidenced by the fact that so few large corporations are doing it well.
Late last year Conductor, Inc. did a study on SEO for the Fortune 500 who spend $51 million a day on 88,792 PPC keywords. Only 20.82% of those keywords ranked in the top 100 natural search results. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Grossly inefficient. But you’re never going to develop a high natural ranking for every keyword you bid on. In fact, one purpose of PPC is to inform your SEO strategy.
You can buy your way into a top placement for a PPC keyword but to rank well naturally for the same keyword requires hard work, time and persistence. That means money. SEO isn’t cheap. It makes sense to choose your keywords carefully. Which natural keywords are likely to covert well and earn the highest margin? Your PPC campaigns can tell you. It’s a lot less expensive to test the click through rate of a paid keyword, not to mention the conversion rate of landing page copy, than to build natural traffic for you page only to find you’ve invested in the wrong keyword.
The Conductor research also found that 46.76% of Fortune 500 companies have very low to non-existent visibility of their most advertised keywords. There isn’t any way to sugar coat that statistic. It’s just bad. Why? Because there’s a substantial synergy in high ranking for both paid and natural placement.
An iCrossing study in 2007 revealed a symbiosis between high ranking for both natural and paid keywords. Clicks increased by 91.8%, actions increased by 45.0%, and orders increased by 44.9% when keywords purchased for a paid search campaign also ranked in natural search.
It’s time to take off the colanders, put the I Ching back on the book shelf, and for SEO and PPC teams to get together to form a consistent strategy for keyword marketing.
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That's a pretty amazing statistic... $51 million per day in PPC with only 20% of those keywords ranking organically? We've also found a very strong increase in conversion when you own the top paid and organic ranking.
SEO may be "harder" but I guess that depends on the definition of hard. It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a positive ROI on general paid terms..
Great post, Charles. As I foray back into the search world again, I am going to be particularly cognizant of the term keyword marketing when speaking to SEO folks. I think its a great way to describe the end goal for both teams.