5 Reasons to Cross Train for Search Success

Posted on August 2, 2013 in

There’s a lot of personal bias that many of us have in Search.  We align ourselves with the paid media camp or the organic side of things.  We think about inbound or attention marketing.  In many cases, it seems as if these are battle lines, never to be crossed.

My personal bias comes from my first online startup.  My silly, self-selected title was Chief Audience Developer.  The title was supposed to reflect the fact that I had to do it all.  I couldn’t hold myself to just attraction, but had to focus on retention as well.  We did paid marketing, but the model wouldn’t hold unless we were successful organically and socially  as well.  I needed to know all the parts of internet marketing and hold them together.  I came to hate the title, but still loved what it taught me.

This is a bias that I still hold at RankHammer.  I don’t want anyone on our team to get focused on only one part of a big picture.

Here are a few reasons that I still think this cross training between SEO and PPC is important:

  • Keyword Research and Strategy

It’s a fundamental part of both SEO and PPC.  Without good keyword strategy both are doomed to fail.  It’s common to use the same tools.  The difference lies in how the information turns in to execution.  However, what PPC campaign couldn’t use some juicy long tail keywords?

  • PPC can give some deep data to SEO

Is there an SEO that doesn’t hate (not provided)?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have better impression data than order of magnitude estimates from webmastertools?  PPC holds some of the answer.  For words that rank both organically and in PPC, a search query report can show how many real impressions were received.   Just a little math to factor in the impression share and you’ll have pretty much the exact amount of possible impressions for that search query.   Not provided takes a bit more fancy footwork, but if you know if your PPC traffic is logged in to Google you can generate some proxy data.  (More on that in a separate post, coming soon)

  • SEO can teach PPC more creativity

Organic results are great about understanding searcher intent.  Too many PPC ads take the same general form, and just push buy now all the time.  Particularly in content marketing, it’s important to understand more than just the end of the purchase funnel, but earlier parts such as the consideration phase.  This can help PPC understand “soft” conversions and ways to reach customers earlier.

  • Excel is for everyone

The language of business is charts and graphs, often on powerpoint slides.  Our clients expect information to be presented to them in the way they understand it, and that goes for SEO as well as PPC.   We need to be able to express not only our traffic, but our return.

Even more so, enterprise level SEO audits are nearly impossible without excellent excel skills.  It’s much easier to pair data from multiple sources, like majestic and screaming frog when you understand basic lookups.  We expect PPC guys to know math in excel, but the best also know how to use the text based functions as well.

  • PPC and SEO can play well together

Google put out a study a bit ago that claimed bidding on keywords that rank well organically could still generate incremental traffic.  When you understand both sides of this, it’s possible to test the true cost of incremental Adwords visits.

It’s also possible to flip that test, and determine if it’s worth going after an organic ranking.  Organic traffic might be incrementally free, but we all know there’s a real cost to going after specific rankings.  Turn on a bit of PPC and figure out what it’s actually worth before all of that effort.


Is there a reason that you don’t agree with?  Would you like to add your own?  Please add to the comments.


By Steve Hammer

Steve is the President of RankHammer. When he's not working with clients to grow online, he's probably looking for a great restaurant no one's heard of yet. He is fully Adwords Certified (Analytics, AdWords and Display) and a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management.