In this episode of the I’ve Heard That podcast on the Hurrdat Media Network, host Meghan Trapp talks with SEO Director Ross Allen and Paid Search Director Allie Burkey about the difference between organic and paid search engine results and how both can be used as part of a comprehensive search engine marketing strategy.
How can you tell the difference between organic and paid search results?
Allen: It used to be that the organic links were the ten blue links that you would see on a search engine results page, and the ads down the side of the page were paid. But over time, things changed, and new features were added like map packs, image carousels, video carousels, and FAQs, which are generated from the organic side of things. So the results page is now different, with organic results showing up in a less prominent way than before.
Burkey: As of now, the first three or four entries on a search engine result page are ads, which you can see since the ad label is denoted. But now, they really want to try to hide it as much as they can. Paid ads can also be found at the bottom of the page, in a map pack if you’re using location extensions, YouTube, and on the display network. They’re everywhere, even if you don’t notice.
When should you put ad spend behind something versus investing in your site?
Allen: Paying for things is expensive, especially some of your keywords, which isn’t sustainable over a long period of time. Think of SEO as the long play, and PPC marketing is kind of the shorter game. SEO takes time—it could take several months for the SEO strategy you implement to actually help you work your way into results and for Google to evaluate and rank pages. During that time, that’s when you can utilize paid ads and get your brand and links in front of people.
Burkey: It really depends on the advertisers’ goals, where they think their audience will be, and their budget. You want to be smart in how you’re investing in paid campaigns because you want to be sure that they can play into the larger SEO strategy. And when it comes to your budget, you need to be more strategic. If you’re in the service industry, launching a CPC (cost-per-click) campaign may run over your budget because of the chances that you receive more clicks for a specific service are high. So while it seems good that you’re getting in front of more people, you’re actually burning through ad spend and possibly taking budget away from other pieces of your SEO strategy.
How do PPC and SEO work together?
Allen: Not every area of your website is going to be working at once. There are different parts of the website that don’t work organically. That’s when you can look at the data and use pay-per-click campaigns to supplement those areas. It’s a constant symbiotic relationship we have with PPC and SEO. We’re always looking at the numbers, always looking at the data to see what’s performing, how we can supplement the areas of SEO that are not working, and how we can reduce cost by turning off some of the ads for the areas of SEO that are working.
Burkey: Truly, the key is communication. One side can say, “Hey, we’re not ranking for these keywords. Is there some kind of paid campaign we can put behind it while we’re working on our SEO?” And from the other side, we can see that certain keywords may be performing well that we hadn’t thought to try and compete for through website content, so we can work together to try and get more of those keywords onto existing or new webpages.