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5 ways that search and social work better together

April 29, 2013

ama

It was an honor to speak at the American Marketing Association (AMA) event last week, on the topic of digital marketing and how search marketing and social media marketing can be used together to improve campaign performance.

Here’s a quick summary of the key points I covered on how search and social can work better together:

1. PPC reinforces SEO results

Often people ask the question, “Why bother paying money to show up in PPC when you are already showing up in SEO, for free?”.

Google’s study on ad click incrementality does a nice job of explaining this. In essence, you get substantially more traffic from having a presence in both organic and paid search, compared to just having a presence in organic search alone. Surprisingly, there is a lot less cannibalization of clicks than what you would expect. As many of us have seen time and again, bad things happen to traffic when you shut down your PPC campaigns. To the non-believers, go ahead and try shutting them down, and see what happens!

There are many things to be gained from having a presence in both SEO and PPC, including:

  • Reassuring the searcher that you are the right choice
  • Increasing your shelf space in the SERP, pushing other listings (and competitors) down the page
  • Effectively using complimentary messaging between the two,  to better appeal to different people’s intent

2. PPC informs SEO research

Keyword tools are an easy way to see the number of searches being made for a given keyword. For SEO, it is important to be targeting the right keywords from the outset since you’re going to spend a lot of time and resource on optimizing a page for that keyword. So spend that time well by choosing keywords that people are actually searching on.

Unfortunately, huge volumes do not always mean quality or relevance. By looking to your PPC campaign data, you can get a good sense of what keywords are high quality (ie: visitors who come in from keywords, take actions on your website and convert well). Quality indicators can range from using weighted quality scores (for example, scoring visitors higher depending upon the quality of actions they take); to actual conversion counts and cost per conversion; all the way through to online sales. Depending what your KPIs are, will depend on what quality indicators are important to you.

What you want to get to is that balance between good search volume and good keyword quality. Those are going to be your highest priority keywords and will form the basis of what to focus on, from a SEO perspective.

3. Social media is increasingly influencing search results

There’s no doubt that social media is becoming more and more prominent within the search engine results. If you think about it, social media is the natural progression from link building, because social activity is a more telling measure of popularity and relevance (and a lot more difficult to game). Some examples of social within the SERP, include:

  • Blended video results from YouTube which are very common to see
  • Google+ company pages which are taking up an increasing amount of real-estate
  • Authorship which is linked to individual Google+ profiles
  • Personalized Google+ social recommendations and shared articles which are making more of an appearance

4. Social media goes where PPC can’t

When someone types in a generic search word (such as, “car”), you don’t really know what they’re looking for as their intent is not clear. And in terms of who they are as a person — their interests, motivations and preferences — that isn’t clear either.

This is where Facebook ad targeting comes into play. In Facebook, people love to share information about themselves and their life, with targeting possibilities that marketing dreams are made of.

Check out this prior post covering 3 ways that Facebook wins over Google for a more detailed low-down.

5. Social media informs PPC campaigns

Retargeting (when done right) can be a great way to help inform your PPC program.  Retargeting is basically another chance for you to try and win back people who showed some kind of initial interest in you but didn’t go on to take an action.

Let’s take YouTube as an example. Based upon certain actions viewers take (ranging from a simple viewing the video to more involved actions such as likes, comments, shares…), Google allows you to build a retargeting list of these people and their actions. You can then target them again (maybe with a complementary call to action) across the wider display network in order to try and move them further along the funnel and complete a conversion action.

YouTube can be a great way to provide important intent clues for your PPC campaigns. As an example, someone who watches a video that is more education-based is more likely to be within the learn stage of the funnel. Therefore, you can retarget these people with ads and call-to-actions that are more learn-related (for example, a whitepaper). Versus someone who watches a video that goes more into a detailed product demonstration. These viewers are more likely to be within the research and consideration phase, so you can retarget these people with ads and call-to-actions that are more buy-related (for example, a special discount code).

Thanks again to the AMA, and to everyone who came along.

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