Both pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) marketing strategies help boost your brand’s visibility and drive traffic to your website. 

So, marketers tend to focus on one or the other.

But SEO and PPC actually work better together. Here’s how. 

How PPC and SEO Work Together

PPC ads drive immediate, targeted traffic to your website. And can reach customers who are close to or ready to buy. You control your ad budget and bids, and target specific demographics, locations, devices, and times of the day.

Although PPC offers nearly instant visibility in search results, your ad traffic is only going to last for as long as you pay for it. This is where SEO complements PPC.

SEO focuses more on long-term gains and generating sustainable, free traffic. 

By creating quality content that ranks well on search engines. As well as helping users and guiding them along the marketing funnel. 

Further reading: SEO vs. PPC: What the Differences Are & When to Use Each

Improved Visibility in Search Results

The more search engine results page (SERP) “real estate” you inhabit, the more visible your brand is to users. This helps you build greater credibility in the eyes of readers. And drive more clicks.

Instead of reaching just one position on the first page, you target multiple when using PPC and SEO. This can include a paid ad spot, organic spots (including featured snippets), and even video and image results.

By targeting relevant keywords in SEO content and then using PPC to also bid on those and related keywords, you can capture a greater market share and expand your brand’s reach. 

After your PPC ads and SEO content go live, monitor your rankings with the Position Tracking tool.
 

A Consistent Brand Experience for Users 

PPC and SEO work together to create a stronger, more recognizable online presence. One that helps users get to know your brand’s products or services. And its overall vibe. This helps build trust in your brand, which influences purchasing decisions.

For example, retargeted PPC ads keep your brand top of mind. And optimizing those ad landing pages with similar keywords, topics, and relevant internal links reinforce the key info you want users to remember about your business. Like using a special product material or offering certain discounts.

NordVPN's PPC ad and a landing page associated with the ad

As an incentive to create relevant, top-notch ads, Google rewards users who land high Google Quality Scores with lower costs-per-click (CPCs). Both ad relevance and a user’s landing page experience factor into the rating—highlighting why using PPC and SEO together is beneficial.

Further reading: What is Retargeting and How Does It Work?

Access to More User Behavior Data

By using both PPC and SEO, you have two user data sources instead of one. Giving you a better understanding of your consumer base.

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So, you can make smarter marketing decisions that allow you to successfully connect with users and reach your goals.

There’s a reciprocal relationship between PPC and SEO—one feeds the other.

For instance, as users click on your PPC ads, you gain real-time insights into the effectiveness of keywords and ad copy. And you gather concrete knowledge on what works (or doesn’t) from A/B tests, where you run different ad variations to compare their performance.

This information then guides your SEO decisions, helping you figure out things like:

  • What factors cause users to convert (i.e., taking the action you want them to take, like buying a product or filling out a form)
  • Which keywords and messaging drive the most traffic 
  • Where users go after landing on your website

A/B tests results for PPC ads

Image Source: Adalysis

As a hypothetical example, consider a brand that sells hiking shoes. The company optimized its pillar page for “durable hiking shoes” and “rugged hiking shoes.” But it isn’t ranking for them in search. However, its PPC data shows that targeting the keyword “waterproof hiking shoes” resulted in significant web traffic.

Given the PPC success for “waterproof hiking shoes,” it would make sense to create new content centering on that phrase instead to improve the odds of attracting and converting more users. 

Use your SEO analytics to similarly inform your PPC campaigns. Like the keywords users search before landing on your site, the number of visits to different webpages, and average ranking position. 

To find these metrics and keywords driving traffic to your website, use Semrush’s Organic Traffic Insights.

First, follow the project configuration guide to set up the tool. 

When you’re done and you’ve connected your Google account, you’ll see an organic traffic report with data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Semrush. 

Organic search traffic report in Semrush

Here, you’ll see an overview of your website traffic. Along with details on how different keywords contribute to those visits. 

To see the full keyword list for a specific page, click the hyperlinked number (“129” in this example) next to the landing page you want to analyze.

Here, you can filter the keywords by:

  • Position
  • Volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Traffic share

Better Budget and Time Management

When SEO and PPC are working together, you don’t need to spend as much on PPC.

Because you’re using a second channel that also brings in traffic—one that doesn’t need you to continuously pay for it. Which makes this duo more budget friendly.

Using both SEO and PPC helps you make the most of the money and time you’re investing. The work you put into each one strengthens the other. And they often benefit from similar approaches.

For example, use the Keyword Magic Tool to find and sort keywords by ranking difficulty and search intent to capture ones that work for both SEO and PPC. 

Filtering keywords by keyword difficulty in Keyword Magic Tool

How to Successfully Use PPC and SEO Together

PPC and SEO bring the best of both worlds: immediate traffic and a long-term organic presence. 

Using both strategies helps you leverage the strengths of each. While overcoming the limitations of using one over the other. 

Here’s how to unify them:

Create a Cohesive Keyword Strategy

A/B test different ads in your PPC campaigns to see how well certain keywords and messages convert users. Use your findings to shape your SEO keyword strategy, creating thoughtful keyword clusters.

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Start with the Advertising Research Tool to discover keywords your competitors are bidding on and see real examples of their campaign ads. 

Enter a competitor’s domain and click “Search.”

A dashboard will pop up and automatically show you info from the “Positions” tab. Like changes in the domain’s ranking keywords, traffic, and the estimated cost of the traffic.

Scroll down below the “Paid Search Trends” chart to see a list of all the keywords the brand is bidding on. Along with their ad position, volume, cost-per-click, and landing page URL. 

A list of

Look for relevant keywords that fit your budget and that you haven’t targeted yet. 

Also, click on the “Ads Copies” tab to see the different ads your competitor is running. Including how many keywords they’ve incorporated. 

Leverage Data to Strengthen Your PPC and SEO Efforts

PPC and SEO data points help you improve your efforts in both areas. And in other marketing avenues, like email campaigns and social media. 

Use the data to either support the direction of the work you’re doing. Or as evidence for the need to adjust.

PPC and SEO Performance Data

Here are key metrics relevant to both channels that’ll help you objectively measure PPC and SEO performance:

  • Impressions:
    • SEO: How many times your webpage appears in search results 
    • PPC: How many times your ad is displayed to users
  • Click-through rates (CTRs):
    • SEO: The percentage of users who click on your listing in search results after seeing it
    • PPC: The percentage of users who click on your ad after seeing it
  • Conversions:
    • SEO: How many times visitors complete a desired action on your website (e.g., filling out a form, downloading an ebook, or buying something) after arriving from organic search results 
    • PPC: How many times users completed a desired action on your website after clicking on your ad
  • Conversion rates:
    • SEO: The percentage of visitors who complete a desired action on your website after arriving from organic search results
    • PPC: The percentage of clicks on your ad that result in a conversion

Using PPC Data to Shape SEO

Boost your SEO content by applying these insights from your PPC campaigns:

  • High-performing keywords: Identify which PPC keywords drive the most traffic. And add these and related keywords to your SEO strategy.
  • User intent: Figure out which type of search intent (navigational, informational, transactional, or commercial) drives the most clicks and conversions with your ads. This will help you create long-form content that meets user needs.
  • Target audiences: Use target audience data from your PPC campaigns to make sure your content is directed at the most relevant users

You can then use the insights to decide where you need to refine ad copy, adjust bidding strategies, and optimize landing pages.

Using SEO Data to Shape PPC

Use these SEO insights to refine your PPC ad copy and adjust bidding strategies:

  • High-ranking keywords
  • Queries that generate clicks from search results
  • Queries that have high CTRs in search results
  • Pages that attract the most traffic
  • Pages that have high conversion rates

Keep track of your PPC and SEO data with the Single Project Dashboard. Here, you can monitor report summaries from 14 different Semrush tools in one convenient spot. 

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To set it up, navigate to “Projects” in the top left corner of the menu. 

Then, on the far right, click the “Create project” button.

A pop-up will appear. Enter your domain and click “Create project” again.

“Create project” pop-up window in Semrush

The resulting dashboard reflects the latest data from the Semrush tools you’re using. Single Project Dashboard can also connect to Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

Single Project Dashboard in Semrush

Further reading: What Is an Analytics Dashboard? [With Examples & Tips]

Target Users at Different Funnel Stages

Use PPC and SEO to target users at different funnel stages, which can be simplified by breaking it into three parts:

  • Top of the Funnel (ToFu): The stage where users become aware of your product, service, or brand
  • Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): The stage where users become more engaged with your brand but aren’t quite ready to convert
  • Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu): The stage where users are ready to convert or buy

By getting SEO and PPC working together, you get the rightmessaging to the right people at the rightpoint in their buying journey.

A visual of a simple conversion funnel

ToFu PPC

Use PPC ads that target key audiences and relevant keywords, helping you generate brand awareness and traffic to your website.

Here’s an example of a ToFu ad that appears for the query “VPN.” It includes a sitelink that links to the basics of what a VPN is: 

ExpressVPN's ad that appears for the query “VPN”

ToFu SEO

ToFu SEO content answers questions and provides valuable information, helping you rank for informational keywords.

Here’s an example of a ToFu blog post that covers the basics of keyword gap analysis:

Semrush's blog on keyword gap analysis on SERP

MoFu PPC

Use MoFu PPC ads to target keywords related to your products or services, helping you capture leads and further establish brand trust.

Here’s an example of a MoFu ad that appears for the query “best VPN.” The content covers what the brand suggests are the top 10 VPNs:

Cybernews' ad that appears for the query “best VPN

MoFu SEO

Use MoFu SEO posts to support users doing product or service research. These help you rank for commercial or transactional keywords and let users compare your brand to others.

Here’s an example of a MoFu round-up comparing the best keyword tracking tools:

Semrush's blog on best keyword tracking tools on SERP

BoFu PPC

Use BoFu PPC ads to drive users to conversion-focused pages, such as product pages or lead generation forms.

For instance, our Keyword Tracker ad takes users to a custom landing page that highlights different aspects of our product. And links to a free trial.

Semrush's Keyword Tracker ad

BoFu SEO

Use BoFu SEO to create content that supports users looking to buy, helping you rank for navigational or transactional keywords.

Here’s an example of BoFu content for a brand’s promo page:

ExpressVPN's Deals and Coupons page on SERP

Further reading: ToFu, MoFu, BoFu: A Practical Guide to the Conversion Funnel

Get PPC and SEO Working Together With Semrush

Integrating PPC and SEO can bring new success to your brand with higher rankings, more conversions, and better ad performance.

With Semrush, build and manage your SEO and PPC strategies in one platform with over 50 built-in tools. Start your free trial today.

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