Many factors go into a well-developed strategy that gives you the best digital marketing results for your industry, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
SEO is a long-term digital marketing approach that brings users who are actively looking for relevant answers to their questions to your website. SEO doesn’t just happen overnight, so it’s essential that marketing teams continue posting content that intended users are searching for online.
On the other hand, PPC is a search engine marketing (SEM) technique that marketing teams use to immediately generate inbound leads. These ads are posted on the top of search engine results pages before organic results, so they’re easily visible to users who are looking to make a purchase.
When SEO is combined with PPC, you get a more substantial ROI at a quicker rate because PPC drives more traffic to your website. With a PPC campaign, you have the chance to conduct keyword research through on-page SEO. You can see what users click on and how they interact with the page, allowing your marketing team to optimize content keywords better and attract potential buyers who are ready to make a purchase.
Confused? Here are a few analogies to help you better understand SEO vs. PPC.
Think of PPC as a painkiller. When looking for immediate relief from an injury, you go to the doctor, who’ll often give you painkillers based on the severity of your pain.
So, when your company needs immediate leads, you’d get those with PPC. Once the campaign is active, PPC will almost immediately begin to generate leads and can be turned on and off.
On the other hand, SEO is more like an antibiotic. If you’ve ever had a sinus infection, the doctor will often give you two weeks’ worth of medicine that you must consistently take until it runs out. If you stop taking it before your prescription is up, you risk the infection coming back (often even worse than before).
SEO takes a longer time to take effect than PPC, and if SEO efforts are stopped in the middle of the process, it can actually put your website in a worse place than it was before. This is because SEO works to ensure website consistency across hundreds if not thousands of databases, so your business must keep up with it on a routine basis.
Remember phonebooks? Back in the day, the phonebook was essentially Google—nearly everyone had access to them, and when they needed to find a service, they consulted the Yellow Pages. Companies constantly competed to have their name higher on a page, and that’s why companies like AAA were always the first listed under the automotive section. Well, we think of SEO like the modern Yellow Pages competition.
Within the Yellow Pages, there were often single-page ad inserts. These would be your modern-day PPC ads. PPC ads appear before organic results and capture a searcher’s attention before they find other sites (specifically, your competitors).
Within both of these digital marketing practices, a well-planned out strategy can use PPC to assist with improving SEO rankings. Overall, the long-term goal is to use organic results to generate leads. However, when it’s the busy season, or you’re looking to aggressively grow your revenue, PPC would be your best solution.
Throughout the rest of this blog, we will cover common terms associated with on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and PPC. While there are over 400 components that go into Google’s SEO algorithm (some resources say over 1,000), we’re just going to highlight the ones that are used most often. Let’s jump into it.
On-page SEO consists of everything that occurs within a single website page. Each page needs to be treated individually because there will be specific pages you want to direct users to more than others. For example, from an SEO standpoint, you’d like to refer potential buyers to a Solutions page rather than an About page because that’s where more conversions occur.
Here are some terms that are often associated with on-page SEO:
Meta Titles: This is the actual title of each web page. A meta title should include the focus keyword of the page. If it doesn’t, the content of that page may not align with the user’s intent. Meta titles should be routinely updated once a month with the same keyword target, just a different keyword variation.
Meta Descriptions: This is the description presented to search engine robots and individual users. The meta description serves as an “elevator pitch” to bring potential buyers to your website. A meta description must be written with the same focus keyword featured in the meta title and throughout the page. It must be easily indexed by bots and piques readers’ interest to drive them to your page.
Content: Content is the meat of the web page and serves to give what users the material they’re looking for. Content should be optimized for SEO value, meaning it needs to have the right keywords users are looking for and match the intent of the search. To stay relevant, content should be updated routinely once a quarter. This could be something as simple as swapping out pictures, rearranging sentence structure, what words are bolded, etc.
Google needs a minimum of 250 words of content on a page to rank well. As a best practice, we aim for 750 words for individual web pages. However, in heavy metro markets, 1,500 words per page should be the minimum target goal (New York City, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Seattle, etc.)
Additionally, the page’s focus keyword must be mentioned in the first paragraph of the content. This makes it easier for bots to crawl and understand what the purpose of the page is about.
Images: All images on your website should be compressed and contain relevant “alt tags” that include the page’s focus keyword. If an image is repeated on a site, it should be re-uploaded, and a new alt tag should be applied to avoid duplicate content penalty. Additionally, the file name of the image should also include the keyword. This must occur before the file is ever uploaded onto the website.
For any stock photos that are used, you must:
- Remove the geo-tag on the photo file. This is a piece of code that tells bots where the photo is located. For example, if you use a stock photo taken in California on a company in NYC website, there will be no benefit from that photo for SEO bots.
- Edit the geo-tag of the photo file. This makes it appear as if the photo was taken in the location of your business.
URL Structure: This is how the website URL looks on each page. When crafting a URL structure, the slug (the ending of a URL) format must be consistent with blogs.
Blog Categories: Every website should have each blog grouped into categories based on their relevant keywords and what the content is about. Properly structuring these categories can go a long way with crawlers and rankings, benefiting your website’s health.
Header Tags: These make sure H1s, H2s, and H3s align with the intent of each section. Changing these monthly or quarterly is a great way to keep page visitors engaged with your content. It lets you see what keeps them on your website and potentially converts them into leads.
- H1: This is the first tag on the page, and it must include the focus keyword.
- H2: This should include a secondary or semantic keyword for the page. It doubles as a way to draw readers’ attention to that portion of content. Ideally, you want to make this as relevant to the keyword or phrase the user entered in the search bar
- H3: Similar to above, this must contain a keyword but should be least prioritized in headers
Outbound Linking: Wherever it’s possible to link to any major brand name or website referenced, you must link it for both credibility and SEO value. Additionally, you must ensure that these links are “follow” links, meaning that the user’s information is also passed along to the linked site.
Internal Site Linking: When relevant, you should link from one page to another within the website. This ensures users find the information they may be looking for as quickly as possible. Internal linking is great for blogs because you can direct users to other relevant blogs or high-converting web pages.
For example, let’s suggest you reference a complex process on a page. It may be worth writing a page or blog that goes into detail about what the process entails and links to that page so you don’t have to explain the process several times throughout the website. From a bot standpoint, this shows that your website is trying to ensure the reader is presented with as much relevant and helpful information as possible. This also ensures the crawler stays on the site as it will follow that link.
Page Speed: This is how quickly a user is about to click on your web link and access the content they need. When possible, include videos on a page to increase user duration on the site. If the end of a page loads slowly, but a user spends under two minutes on it, bots will give the page a “boost” as it shows that you are presenting the user with relevant, helpful, or entertaining content.
User Experience: Overall, this is the single most important factor in SEO because it ranks a user’s engagement levels. While you could have the best content in the world, if a user isn’t spending time on a page, it does nothing beneficial for your company or website. A good user experience shows that users have an easy flow through the site, can quickly find the information they are looking for, and is beneficial to the user.
User Page Flow/Bounce Rate: Understanding how a user flows through the site and how quickly they leave a page plays a huge role in that page’s ranking. On average, it should take two seconds for a user to decide if they want to engage with your website further. Therefore, you need to capture their attention as quickly as possible.
Observing user page flow also helps you understand if a page needs an internal link to another information source. Ideally, we want all users to get to a “confirmation page,” meaning they have filled out a form on the website showing interest in your business’s product or service offerings.
Domain Authority: This is how respectable your domain is by search engines and users. Even the best content may never rank if you have small domain authority. This ranking is determined from a number of the on- and off-page factors (which we’ll get into below).
Page Authority: Similar to domain authority, this is regarding each page rather than the website as a whole. Page authority helps ensure that many pages have a high page authority, which helps your website domain authority. This can be achieved through a number of factors above as well as including backlinks on the page. They can also feed off each other, so you benefit from both pages by linking a high-ranking page to another page within the same site.
Content Author Authority: This authority prevents “stay-at-home bloggers” from outranking reputable and dependable sources.
Schema: This is the backend “document” on the website and SEO servers. Schema helps bots better categorize the data and content of your site and present it to relevant users. Schema.org does a great job of helping generate schemas for sites. However, there are a number of free tools out there, including Google Search Console. The schema should be updated each time on-page content is refreshed, or a new page or blog is added to your website.
Social Links: Adding a social share button to pages, where applicable, is beneficial, specifically when it comes to blog content. As a result, it can help your off-page SEO as well.
Off-page SEO consists of all SEO efforts that exist off the page or website but directly impacts the page you are looking to rank higher for. Domain and Page Authority are two main on-page SEO components that directly benefit from this.
Here are some terms that are often associated with off-page SEO:
Shareable Content: When content is written for a page, it should be written with the idea that this information is valuable to the end user who wants to share it with their network. If content can be written in this structure, web pages and blog posts can gain tons of referral traffic from other sources with minimal effort from your marketing team. This also applies to videos, personal images, sales assets, etc. The more information that is out there linking back to your website, the better.
Forum Participation/Influencer Marketing: This involves promoting the specific business in other relevant avenues. A great way to do so is to participate in forums (like Reddit or Quora) around the internet pertaining to a topic, product, or service your company specializes in and provide a link to that information on the site.
Blog/Article Directory Submission: This is when you find high domain or page authority blog directories where you can submit content you create. This is a great way to get others to return to your website.
Video Advertising/Marketing: If your company has videos, make sure your YouTube or Vimeo channel is appropriately set up and that the video links to the most relevant page within your website. If there is a short- and long-form version of a video, house the short video on YouTube and the long video on your website. For reference, a 30-second video is considered a short-form video. On the other hand, a 60- to 90-second video would be considered long-form.
Robust Backlinking Strategy: All of the above involve some form of backlinking strategy. Essentially, this means providing links around the internet that link back to your website. Ideally, you should rotate an effort of the above and work to get a few backlink attempts per month. This can be done through third parties (like the HOTH), manually, or both.
Do Follow vs. No Follow Links: This ensures that the ratio of links that come into your website is not geared entirely towards No Follow Links. For example, if 100% of the backlinks that come to your website are from social media channels, this is not ideal. You risk low page and domain authority if your ratio is too high on the No Follow front. This is where a robust backlinking strategy comes into play.
Reputation Management: This ensures that your online reputation is high, meaning there is increased engagement with customers and users interacting with the business around the internet. This could include Google Reviews, social media engagement, or industry-specific blog forums. Reputation management ensures that users who enjoy your product or service tell Google and other search engines that you bring value to the customer. That way, you can gain referral business.
PPC campaigns are most beneficial when a searcher is in the transactional stage of the sales funnel. To have the best functioning PPC strategy, a few things must be taken into account.
Since PPC exists primarily as a passthrough cost, it’s imperative to understand the upfront time and cost of creating a PPC campaign. This time and effort can impact an SEO strategy if appropriately optimized.
The best performing campaigns focus on each element listed below:
Keyword Research: It’s vital that you use the most profitable keyword for your business’s product or service offering. The head keyword should appear within the ad’s meta title, description, and URL. Additionally, the keyword in the ad must appear on the page that the ad links to, ensuring that the keyword’s intent matches the ad’s purpose.
Negative Keywords: If you want an ad to target the keyword “leaking,” you must ensure that you have the proper negative keywords in place. For example, let’s say that you’re a plumber. To get the right business, you must ensure you have “roof leaking” as a negative keyword because your website is irrelevant to those searches.
Ad Structure: The ad must be set up to appear relevant to the user. As mentioned above, this means that the keyword must be the core focus. Additionally, the ad’s description must be enticing enough for the user to want to click.
Quality Score: This is a score that Google gives to each ad based upon the following factors:
- Ad structure
- Landing page relevance
- User interaction with the ad
- Conversion rate
A quality score is rated on a scale of 1–10. Scores ranging from 1–3 can cause an ad to cost up to 400% of its actual cost. However, a score of 8–10 can generate an ad to cost 0.5% of the actual price. For example, an ad normally costing $5 could cost up to $20 with a bad quality score. However, if the ad is a high-quality score, it could cost around $2.50.
Budget: This considers where the company resides and what the keywords in their industry cost in the locations they are bidding. If you take into account high-quality score ads, you can effectively double budgets. However, you still need to keep in mind the location of your business.
For instance, a major metro market like New York City would most likely require an ad budget of between $2,000 and $5,000 minimum, depending on the industry served.
Here’s a breakdown of what a budget typically looks like for each market:
- Rural markets: $500 Minimum, but $1,000 is recommended
- Suburban Markets: Population and service area dependent
- Metro: Population and industry dependent $1,000 minimum, but $1,500-2,000 is recommended
SEO and PPC can be complex, but it makes it a little easier when you have a solid understanding of the terminology that goes into it. At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our digital marketing experts know the latest SEO and PPC best practices and apply them to our clients and our own business for an enhanced lead generation strategy.
If you need help implementing and optimizing your SEO and PPC campaigns, contact the experts at Abstrakt Marketing Group!