An Introduction to a Holistic approach to PPC, SEO, and Content Marketing 

There are often debates in the marketing world about whether SEO, content marketing, or paid ads are the best solution for a business.

In any marketing groups, forums, and blogs there are hundreds of posts riddled with arguments over which type of digital marketing makes the most effective strategy.

More often than not, when one of these three strategies has not worked for a business, it is not because it is ineffective, but rather that it was used in the wrong way.

The truth is, in order to see the best results from your digital marketing campaigns in 2019, businesses need to combine PPC, SEO, and content marketing effectively.

Marketing Learning Objectives

In this article, you will learn:

  • Basic overview each strategy
  • Why each strategy is important
  • Tips and techniques for each strategy
  • How to combine them and make an effective marketing campaign
  • Why combining all three is so effective

Let’s get started.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

You have probably heard the term SEO, organic search optimization, or search engine optimization thrown around a lot, and might have mixed feelings about it. So let’s take a second to quickly answer the question,

“What is SEO?”

Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving your website’s visibility and rankings on search engines or search based platform. There are multiple types of SEO (Amazon, different search platforms, etc.), and hundreds of different methods to improve the visibility and rankings of your website.

*For the purpose of this post we will focus on SEO as it relates to (the major search engines) Google, Bing, Yahoo, and their respective maps.

How does it work?

The way this works is through the organic search results. For instance, when someone types in a query into a search engine, the results they are shown are based off relevance and the ability to best satisfy search intent but are not paid to show up.  The organic results are the sections that are not the paid advertising.  The paid results are currently up to the top 4 and bottom 3 results (With a map result depending on the local term).  They also have a little “ad” notation before the URL.

Results that are higher up in the search achieve these spots based on a multitude of factors:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Click through rates  (A subjective metric in light of featured snippets from Google)
  • Time on page, Bounce rate (Not necessarily for Google, Potentially for Bing. ~ Ahrefs)
  • Backlinks
  • Page authority
  • Keywords
  • Social shares / Brand mentions
  • Comments
  • On page SEO

The list goes on. There are literally hundreds of ranking factors that determine position on Google’s search engines and more that are not publicly available. The great thing is as an experienced SEO agency we are not fully guessing what Google and the other search engines want. We have years of data and a larger SEO community that help us make informed decisions. (Don’t just take our word for it 200 ranking factors)

Essentially, the mission of search engines is to provide the user with the best result for what they have asked. This means providing them with a user friendly website design and content that will help your audience to:

  • Find answers to their questions
  • Read or watch longer
  • Not need to search through additional results afterwards
  • Be more likely to check out additional content on your site
  • Potentially make a purchase
  • Leave a review
  • Comment, share, interact another way

The only goal of SEO is to get people to come to your site organically. This means that you are not paying directly for them to show up on your site, as you are with paid advertisements such as Google Ads or Facebook ads campaigns.

Why is SEO so important?

Without a strategy that properly addresses how your website is ranked for searches on search engines, it will be difficult to succeed online.

Put simply, if you want to generate organic search traffic to your site, search engine optimization is a must. 

The reason that focusing on organic search traffic matters is that you want to be building your brand while generating revenue. Paid ads are highly effective, but organic leads can be higher quality and quantity if targeted correctly.  Best of all they are free!

Even more important is the fact that 51% of traffic comes from organic search results. 

How can I implement SEO Organic Search into my marketing strategy?

Ideally, you might want to consider working with a marketing agency or to at least get a SEO audit of your site. This will at least help you get started in the right direction. They can also help with implementing more complex strategies.

From there, if you are determined to handle SEO for yourself, you will want to at least focus on:

  • Site load speed
  • Mobile usability
  • On page SEO
    • Internal links
    • Keyword research
    • Headings/subheadings
    • Images
    • Site structure
    • URLs
    • Etc… (remember those 200 hundred factors?)
  • Backlink outreach strategy
  • Local SEO (We show you how to start to rank in Google maps and more.)

Optimizing each one of these will lead to your website having a very strong organic search presence. Over time, this will boost rankings, and increase the amount of impressions and visitors your website gets.

But, as I said in the introduction, search optimization is not as effective without content marketing, or paid.

Content Marketing

So why is content marketing so important? And how exactly does it help to work with search engine optimization in order to make an effective online marketing strategy? Let’s take a look.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategy which revolves around the production of high-quality, custom content targeted towards your various audience segments.

This content can come in a wide array of formats, such as:

  • Blogs
  • Ebooks
  • Video
  • Social media
  • Case studies
  • Webinars
  • Online courses
  • Podcasts
  • Etc…  (insert anything that can be called content)

Why is content marketing so important?

The goal of content marketing is to provide for the informational needs of your target audience. But It help answer a question or questions your customer had or didn’t know they had with content tailored to them.  It is a guided entry point to services and not necessarily always the end point.  Consider it a first date, with some follow up dates, but one night stands happen too (Hey, some content is more forward than others.)

By making this the primary goal of your content marketing campaigns informational, you will be much more effective.

People Want And Prefer Content Marketing

In fact, content marketing has been shown to generate 3x as many leads as paid advertising campaigns, at just 62% of the cost.

The reason why it’s so effective? People want content. The average person consumes over 11 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision.  (Remember the date analogy?) 

Content Marketing Improves Organic Search Traffic

Not to mention, producing high-quality content for your website allows you to drastically improve your search rankings.

For example: if you want to rank for “Minneapolis Web Design“, you will never be able to do this organically without content. Or creating amazing website designs (because let’s be honest if your websites looks horrible why would you want to rank for web site design.)  Our responsive websites look awesome by the way. But we digress… we were talking about content and ranking.

But why?

Well for starters, the average number one search result on Google has 1,890 words. The 2nd place search result has just around 2,000 on average.

That means that if you simply have a web page where you have some content about Web Design in Minneapolis, that isn’t enough.  You need supporting content. You would need to have information about, what makes web design tailored to Minneapolis different than New York, or information about your web design that makes it relevant to the Minneapolis market.  Maybe even local signals that showed you were relevant to a Minneapolis based searcher.  See the point here is that it takes more than just a keyword on a landing page to rank for it. It takes content.

Content Marketing Provides Value to Your Audience

When people search online, they generally search with a question. You can read about the latest SEO Trends which include the rise of question based voice search. Content marketing aims to provide value to your customers by giving them vital information which helps them answer their questions, and make the right decisions moving forward.  

By answering your audience’s questions, and providing value you are achieving a few things:

  • Ranking for certain keywords
  • Getting their clicks
  • Winning their trust
  • Establishing your brand as an expert leader
  • Leading them to the next step
  • Obtaining information from them
  • Potentially converting them

Without quality content, people are likely to leave your site early, or never even be shown your site in the search results.

Content Marketing Improves Lead Quality

Another beautiful thing that creating custom content allows you to do is generate more quality leads.

Rather than attempting to only rank for extremely competitive terms, that are likely not seen by a majority of searchers, content allows you to rank for more specific keywords that are likely to drive conversions.

For example: You run a carpet cleaning agency, and you produce a piece of content about “What to do if you spill wine on your rug?”

Chances are, someone who is searching for this exact question has likely already spilled wine on their rug. Therefore, by the time they arrived on your site, they are extremely pre-qualified. You are not fighting for the more difficult to rank for “Wine on Carpet” because Rug is more specific.  Which means you have a very specific content piece to do with types, brands, and cleaning (hopefully more professional priced services) for those rugs.  

Content pre-qualifies the Buy.

By giving them information that can help them solve their problems, you are qualifying your business in their mind as a potential solution.

Consumers No Longer Trust Brands

In 2019, only about 49% of Americans trust brands. This means that just over half of the people you could potentially be marketing to with paid advertising campaigns or come to your site organically do not trust your company, regardless of how well-structured your campaign or site is.

This means that no matter what, acquiring new customers is now an uphill battle, and the only way to get through to conversions is to build trust.

Just how effective is custom content at building brand trust? A study done by DemandGen show that 95% of B2B buyers look to content in the evaluation process of making a purchase.

Content Can Generate Valuable Email Lists

Email marketing is one of the best ways to generate a positive ROI from your online marketing campaigns.

One study even found that email generates a 3,800% ROI. Content marketing allows you to leverage the value that your content can provide to customers in order to generate contact information from them.  Nearly everyone has downloaded a guide.

From here, you can use the emails you generate in order to develop segmented audiences which are targeted by your email campaigns bringing you a higher ROI.

How Can I Implement Content Marketing?

As we touched on earlier, content can come in many forms. Typically, the two types of content that are interacted with the most are blogs, and video.

This is a great place for anyone looking to start content marketing to begin developing high quality content for your audience.

Blogging

Around 55% of marketers consider blog content to be their top inbound marketing priority. Of those who blog, those who create 11+ pieces of content monthly generate an average of 3x more website traffic.

But don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

When creating blog content, you want to make sure that you:

  • Understand your audience
  • Have done keyword research
  • Conduct a content gap analysis for your industry
  • Create high quality content
  • Create long form content
  • Are consistent

Video

Video content is quickly becoming the new face of marketing. In 2017, video made up 69% of all global internet traffic. Experts estimate that by 2021, video will represent 80% of all online search traffic. Needless to say, video is here to stay.

On top of this, video content has also been shown to dramatically improve conversion rates. In fact, we have seen by adding a great introduction video to landing pages improves conversions by an average of 80%.

Paid advertisements are the last piece of the online marketing strategy puzzle. You can have excellent SEO and content marketing, but without implementing some sort of paid advertising campaign, you will never reach the full potential of your online marketing efforts.

Are paid ads still relevant in 2019?

While content marketing typically generates a greater return on investment than paid marketing campaigns, this does not mean paid ads are ineffective.

In 2019, paid advertisements are still very profitable, with 65% of keywords that spur purchases had paid clicks while organic had 35%.

On top of this, in 2019, Google still reports that about $2 of revenue result from every $1 of ad spend across industries.

So yes, PPC is still very relevant in 2019.

Why are paid ads important for online marketing?

Paid ads are the fuel for all of your hard work when it comes to content and SEO. It can take years in order to build up your website enough to generate lots of organic search traffic.

In the meantime, you need to find alternative and consistent ways to generate revenue from your online marketing efforts.

Paid advertising offers the best solution to this problem. It can also easily be combined with both of these other strategies in order to create very effective advertising campaigns.

Some of the main reasons that paid advertising is so successful are:

  • Advanced targeting
  • Complete customization
  • Easy to test, edit, and adapt
  • Wide array of platforms
  • Allows re-targeting
  • Very good analytics and metrics

All these ingredients help to provide you with the information and tools necessary to easily integrate paid advertising into your existing marketing efforts.

It often takes multiple touch-points before generating a sale.  Paid advertising is the perfect way to re-target people who have also already visited your website. 

For example: If you use a Google ads campaign to drive traffic to your website, you can create a Facebook re-marketing ad to the visitors who didn’t convert.  To make the remarking more profitable (and to limit competitors who may get captured by your Facebook pixel) re-market to visitors that did a desired action such as adding an item to a cart but did not purchase.  This granular data can also be used to create a look-alike audience for future social media ads.

Combining Them All

Now comes the fun part, combining search, content, and paid advertising to make the ultimate online marketing campaign for your business.

But how do you do it right? What are the best ways to combine all three of these strategies? How will you know if they are successful?

Let’s take a second to answer each of these questions at once.

1. Make Sure Your SEO Follows Best Practices

Before you ever even get to producing content, or managing paid advertising campaigns, you need to first make sure that your technical SEO on your site is done right. Technical SEO includes coding errors, server issues, site speed, meta data, to list a few.  We have some free SEO tools to take a 1000 foot look at your site and fix some common errors.  We also provide much more comprehensive SEO audits and action plans, Contact Us to learn more.

Once you’ve taken care of this, you next must make sure that the SEO for your custom content is also done properly. This includes things like:

  • Keyword research
  • Internal linking
  • Answering questions
  • Optimizing title and description
  • Optimizing headings/subheadings
  • Avoiding SEO mistakes and malpractice (keyword stuffing, hidden content / links, or questionable link building)

Once this is done, you can then begin focusing on the SEO for your paid advertising campaigns (Yes, you can optimize your paid campaign landing pages for search).

For the most part, this is the most simple SEO strategy to manage, because there is not a whole lot that you have control of other than keywords to target, and optimizing titles, meta, and ad copy if you have done more of the technical parts already.  Link building is not a primary focus of a paid ad campaign.

This is where content begins to creep in.

2. Create the Best Content

The most important thing to remember when creating content for your audience is that quality trumps everything.

As we went over earlier in this article, Google is driven by user intent. This means that the user’s satisfaction is the ultimate determinant to how well a piece of content performs.

In order to create the best content for your brand, there are a few things you must do:

  • Segment your audiences
  • Create content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Provide unique and valuable insights
  • Answer questions
  • Understand SEO’s role in content marketing
  • Be consistent
  • Upgrade your current content (adapt and change it with the insights gained from new trends, past paid, or search)
  • Produce content on multiple different platforms

Applying these simple strategies on a consistent basis will allow you to appeal to a wider target audience, effectively reach your target audience, improve your search engine rankings, and deliver a better end product.

3. Use Paid Ads to Create a Sales Funnel

Once you have improved your site’s technical SEO, as well as created high quality content with search engines in mind, it is now time to begin building your paid advertising campaigns.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to creating paid ad campaigns online is that your business has multiple types of buyers with different types of needs.

Each buyer can be at a different part of the sales funnel. This means that you must develop multiple different ad campaigns, on multiple different platforms, with multiple different offerings. 

This all sounds overwhelming, but essentially all you are doing is giving your content that you produced, the best chance to reach your audience and provide them with value.  Moving them along in the buyer sales process.

Pro Tip: If you find areas where you can target near the end of the buyer cycle they can have the highest returns in the short term (eCommerce).  But finding ways to capture and fostering them earlier provides scalability for brands with longer sales cycles.

When it comes to paid ads, you want to take these steps to always succeed:

  • Test, test, test some more
  • Target a smaller audience
  • Focus on keywords searches that convert first
  • Use different channels for different stages of the funnel.
    • Social media ads for early awareness and re-targeting, Native ads for educational sales content, and other search engines and networks after maxing out your current platform.
  • Always run re-targeting campaigns in some form when the budget allows.
  • Provide value and establish trust before selling

By prioritizing these objectives, you will be able to gain the highest ROI from your paid marketing campaigns.

You want to be sure that with your paid ads that you are equally as focused on SEO when it comes to optimizing it for search engines and users. Guess what! Google and Bing use similar search optimization signals to evaluate the quality and relevance of your landing page to the quality of the ad (and how much you pay per click). Facebook uses site actions to optimize for conversions and great user experience has a high social share rate. Also, you want to be very deliberate that the content in your ads matches your landing page and buyer intent, including:

  • Titles
  • Descriptions
  • Landing pages
  • Product offerings
  • Etc… (Sorry about the broad bullet point, we could write whole books on this part but this Etc. really depends on your niche.)

All of which ensures that your message comes across clearly and correctly, and you’re driving the leads to take the right actions.

By continually producing high-quality content, and monitoring the results of your paid advertising campaigns, you can begin to optimize them over time.

This will give you an edge over the competition, and allow you to combine all three of these strategies in a way that will skyrocket your online lead generation, while building your brand and developing an effective organic search presence.

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