It’s a well-established fact that, when conducted properly, combining both paid and organic search engine strategies into your overall online marketing plan can be extremely beneficial.

Two heads are better than one: by merging PPC and SEO data, you can create effective strategies.

Contrary to the previous belief that an effective online marketing plan had to adopt one strategy or the other, successful Internet marketing companies today are implementing a mixed strategic approach for their clients in order to take advantage of the unique benefits that both paid and organic search can provide. An extremely beneficial byproduct of this synergistic approach is that data from one search marketing strategy can help enhance the keyword research of the other. Below we examine five ways that paid search and organic search can help one another when it comes to effective keyword research.

1. Leveraging Historical Data

When working with a website that has been up and running for an extended period of time, we can delve into the historical keyword and traffic data that has been accumulated to enhance either our paid or organic keyword research. Assuming that the site has been using some type of traffic tracking system (Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, CrazyEgg, etc.), search engine marketers can mine this data for the best paid and organic keywords to target. By examining the various traffic metrics of non-paid keywords to a website over a certain period of time, for example, we can come up with a list of keywords to test in our paid search campaigns. Conversely, if a site has been conducting a paid search campaign, keywords that have performed well statistically can be tested for organic optimization and rankings.

2. Understanding the Difference Between a Good “Paid” Keyword and a Good “Organic” Keyword

When leveraging historical data and mining for new keywords, search marketers need to keep in mind the differences between effective paid keywords and organic keywords. Generally, keywords used in a paid search campaign will be focused on a specific user action—calling or emailing for more information, downloading a brochure, or purchasing a product. Paid search keywords are based on user searches that are considered to be further along in the buying cycle than organic keywords. An example of an effective paid search keyword for a travel agency specializing in cruises to Mexico might be “book a cruise to Mexico in July.”  Someone entering that keyword phrase in a search engine is ready to make a purchase. Keywords applied to organic search campaigns are thought to be at the beginning of the buying cycle. A good organic keyword for the travel agency could be “Mexico travel agency.” This keyword phrase would likely be searched by someone interested in going to Mexico at some point, but is not sure of when and how.

3. Focusing on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

For both organic and paid keywords, there are specific key performance indicators that we look at in order to determine whether or not a keyword is worth targeting. We can also leverage this data to find new keywords that might work better if used as part of a different strategy. An example of this might be an organic keyword that drives a lot of traffic, but has poor engagement results. Could this keyword be better utilized in a paid search campaign that features a highly focused landing page and stronger call to action? On the other side of the coin, could we improve the performance of a paid search keyword with solid engagement data but very few conversions through organic optimization techniques with the goal of using this keyword as a means of bringing in (and keeping) new visitors?

4. Using Content and Messaging Data to Enhance Keyword Research

The messaging that is used on organic web pages as well as in paid search ads and landing pages can provide additional insight into what keywords may work the best. For example, if we notice that visitor engagement is especially high for an organic web page focused on “shirts with funny quotes,” we may want to consider leveraging this keyword in our paid search campaign. Something like “buy funny quote shirts online” or “funny t-shirts for sale” could be beneficial keyword additions to a paid search campaign based on visitor engagement data from an organic web page.

5. Gathering Data for Revised Keyword Research Down the Road

After simultaneously running an organic search campaign and paid search campaign for an extended period of time, it’s important to periodically go through the analytics data and revise both organic and paid keyword lists. What might have worked in the initial stages of a website’s search marketing strategy may have changed completely, so we need to see where improvements can be made. In revising the keywords, a good idea is to select the top-performing organic keywords and test them in your paid campaign, and vice versa.


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