A PPC’s Guide to SEO & Content
*I’ll frequently update. Last Updated Tuesday October 6th, 2015.
Let’s be honest, PPC and SEO aren’t different. If you do PPC you do SEO. If a client wants PPC they want SEO. Agency offering PPC typically offer SEO. This study guide is designed for PPC managers interested in learning a bit about SEO.
Why does SEO matter? Well… customers are searching to buy things everyday. If you organically rank 1 for a search query you receive about 33% of the traffic. That’s a ton of new customers and money for your client. Or as a branding exercise, it connects your business with keywords.
How do you Rank?
As a PPC manager, you are always climbing. Having a relevant website for a search query is important. Google matches your website to what users are searching. How does Google decide who gets the top position? Top cat is determined by authority. Authority is the number and the quality of links pointing at your website. The more links the better (unless they are spammy; in which case you will be punished). The higher the quality of the links the better. As in most things in life, quality is more important than quantity.
Some questions Google will ask: What are visitors saying about your website? Are they sticking around or bouncing?
Google’s goal is two fold, make money from paid search and provide an excellent search experience. The latter goal, if ignored, leads to visitors choosing to use a different search engine. You wouldn’t continue using a search engine that kept sending you irrelevant results, would you?
Websites vs. Webpages
There is a difference. And it is important to understand. Websites are books. Webpages are pages in the book. This distinction is important because Google presents the most relevant webpages. They do not necessarily present the most relevant websites. Think about SEO in terms of pages not websites. Pages should contain all the content and information the visitor is looking for. Don’t make the visitor have to look around your website. If the visitor can’t find what they are looking for on your page… they aren’t going to look for it on your website… they are going to leave. Just like PPC…
How do you go about figuring out what keywords works for your clients? It’s the same way you figure out PPC keywords work. Google Keyword Planner. After you are done your research, create content which highlights these keywords. This is called on page optimization. You want to build authority for your keywords. Ideally the keywords will be placed in links, meta descriptions, and titles.
Be ready for a battle. Picking a keyword means you are in for a fight. Sometimes you are fighting against the business next to you… and sometimes it’s against a team of forty SEO specialists in India. And sometimes you are using a team of forty SEO specialists in India.
Types of Keywords
Not every keyword has the same value. There are three types of keywords: head, body, and long tail.
Head keywords are a single word: high competition – large traffic – low conversion rates. Body keywords are two to three words: medium competition – medium traffic – medium conversion rates. Long tail keywords are four or more words. Long tail searches make up 60% of total searches for particular niches: low competition – low traffic – low conversion rates.
Success in SEO depends on a plan. What I like to is to focus on body and long tail keywords. I do this by making a list of keywords. While the traffic of each keyword is small… combined the keywords generate more traffic than most head keywords.
I’ll talk about long tail keywords and you can extrapolate to body keywords. Long tail keywords are four words or more. The longer the keyword the easier it is to rank for it. When looking to build a list, you should start with something called a “seed” keyword. A seed keyword is essentially your niche. The seed keyword will lead to upwards of 50 long tail iterations.
What makes long tails attractive is they target valid customers. Conversion rates tend to be much higher since the person on the other end is ready to buy. However…. it depends on your long tails. There are plenty of long tails that will fail at converting. Some long tails are meant for visitors who haven’t made up their mind yet. They are looking for informational keywords.
The solution is to use commercial long tail keywords like buy, review, coupon, discount, order, shipping, etc. Using long tail keywords isn’t enough… by itself.
Google Keyword Planner
As a PPC marketer… I assume you’ve used this tool before. This tool was built for AdWords and paid search so it has a slightly different purpose in SEO. To use it, set up a free Google AdWords account. Be careful when you choose your currency because it can’t change after it is set. You don’t want to see bids in different currencies….
Keyword Planner is located under tools. There are three relevant options.
The first option allows you to experiment with specific keywords. Be as specific as possible. If it is too broad, you will only see hyper competitive keywords. You can also research your homepage or someone else’s webpage. This works well if there is a dominant competitor. There’s also a targeting option. You can target by location and reach. Narrow by inputting the average monthly searches, suggested bid, ad impression share, and competition levels.
The second option is to get search volume for a list of keywords. This assumes you already have a list of keyword.
The third option is multiple keyword list. I use for e-commerce clients. It allows you to match a lot of different words and create different combinations. You put in a couple of different lists and find what combination has the highest search volume. Essentially it creates a list of popular long tails.
On Page Optimization
Now that you have keywords, sprinkle them in your content. Make sure your URLs, title tags and meta descriptions are optimized.
Google treats URLs like a real person is reading them. Therefore they should be readable. You don’t want random text (and even worst numbers) in your URL. You want to have a keyword rich URL. Make sure the URL’s length is short. Including the entire title may be too long. Google only look at the first 4-5 words. Make sure that your URL are separated using hyphens. No underscores… ever. Google is not a fan of underscores. You can edit your URL on WordPress or a similar dashboard. WordPress automatically pulls the URL from the title.
The title tag is what is in blue when you do an online search. The title tag is the most important on page SEO factor. When you write it, you want to front load your keyword in the title tag. The title should be 55 characters or less. It doesn’t look swell if it’s cut off. Make sure you have a different title tag for every page. Seriously, don’t use the same title for multiple pages/posts. Your tags should be tailored to the page. The title also appears in the tab of the browser.
For the Meta description you want to include action orientated language. Call to actions are essential for the meta description. Use verbs. Offer a solution to whatever problem the visitor is trying to solve. Make sure the description is relevant for the search query. Visitors review the meta description before they click through. Keep the meta description under 155 characters otherwise cuts off. Your keyword should be imprinted onto the meta description.
Keyword research feeds into the title and meta description. however don’t stuff your keyword. If it looks spammy users won’t click.
If you use WordPress, it’s easy. Download a plugin called SEO by Yoast. The bottom of each page will have a place for you to put your title and meta description. Don’t make things complicated. Yoast will also check the keyword you are trying to rank for.
Off Page Optimization
Off page optimization means building powerful links to your website. Google sees a link as a vote of confidence you are an authority in a particular subject. However, not all links are equal. Focus on the gathering quality links.
Quality links come from relevant websites in your niche. Google understands what your website is about. They want to see natural links. Links outside your niche do not have as much weight as those in.
Quality links come from ranked websites. Links from ranked websites are powerful indicators of authority.
Quality links have effective anchor text. Anchor text is the clickable text found in a hyperlink. Google sees anchor text as an indicator of what your website is about. Generic anchor text is the worst. Make sure your anchor text is relevant to the page you are linking to. It’s important it looks natural and not every backlink with the same text.
Above all else, quality links are consistently being built. This looks organic. It indicates your business is getting better. It’s important to consistently add backlinks.
I hope that was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions I’m always eager to respond to feedback.