SEO and PPC are terms that we marketers throw around a lot. It’s for a good reason. If you have a B2B business, you likely have a website. If you have a website, then driving traffic to your B2B website is extremely important. In theory, more traffic equals more leads equals more customers and clients.
However, you need to drive the right kind of traffic to your website. With B2B marketing, this is even more important than our B2C counterparts since B2B client acquisition is typically a longer marketing and sales cycle.
While there are many different marketing strategies to do this, one way is through PPC and SEO. Before we dig in, though, we need to take a few steps back to explain what these terms mean and why they are important for your B2B company. From there, we’re going to go more in-depth and explain how you can use SEO and PPC to increase B2B website traffic. Let’s get started.
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What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is the practice of improving and optimizing your website to drive more traffic to it through “organic” search. What does organic search mean? It’s non-paid. SEO is not advertising. Some search engine optimization is done behind the scenes through backlinks and metadata. A lot of search engine optimization is done through high-quality content that matches a user’s search intent. Plenty more goes into getting your site to be in the #1 spot on Google, but in a nutshell, it’s how you build your website to get more organic traffic.
What is PPC?
PPC, on the other hand, stands for pay-per-click. Pay-per-click is a form of advertising, and it literally means that you pay-per-click to drive traffic to your website. With pay-per-click advertising, you create an ad that you determine the ending destination for. For example, if you were selling SaaS software to retail stores to help them with shrink control, then your ad would link to an informational page on your website telling them more about your software. Anytime an online prospect clicks on your ad, you are charged the amount that you’ve set.
Let's talk about the marketing funnel.
In marketing, we talk a lot about the marketing funnel. Understanding a bit about the funnel and how it relates to PPC and SEO for B2B marketing will help you make sense of how you can use both to drive more traffic to your B2B website.
Top of the marketing funnel
Many people who are searching for something online will start with, “How to…?” or “How do I…?” or “What is?” This would be a “top-of-the-funnel” type of search. They are seeking information and are becoming more aware of possible answers. These sorts of results will often include a combination of PPC and SEO content. For instance, if we search, “How to rank number one on Google?” you’ll see several different paid options, as well as what’s called a featured snippet.
Typically, if you’re trying to catch top-of-the-funnel prospects, optimizing your SEO content is the way to go. Or you’ll want to focus on optimizing your SEO content and a PPC strategy.
Keep in mind that those who are top of the funnel are the furthest away from actually converting. They are still on an information-seeking mission. So you need to consider if it’s worth investing money into these prospects since their likelihood of converting is lower than those who are further down in your funnel.
Let’s stay with the example of a “how-to,” for instance. If you look up a “how-to” for almost anything, the results that are going to appear will likely be a blog article. A blog article isn’t necessarily a page where someone will contact you or purchase from you as their following action. So unless you have a specific goal with that blog article (maybe it has a targeted call-to-action within it), it might not be worth putting money towards a PPC ad.
Middle of the marketing funnel
For those web searchers who are middle-of-the-funnel, they are in the consideration phase. To attract more middle-of-the-funnel B2B prospects, you’re likely in the stage of selling where introducing the benefits of your product or services will make sense.
Many searchers who are middle-of-the-funnel might be to the point where they are looking for reviews, comparing the pros and cons of different companies or products, and researching prices. Often, to get customers to convert in the middle-of-the-funnel, PPC ads can be more successful.
Bottom of the marketing funnel
These are the people who are getting ready to make a purchase. Whether it’s a product or service, if they’ve made it to this part of the marketing funnel, they have a high likelihood of converting.
Creating highly targeted PPC ad campaigns for this part of the funnel would be a good place to invest some money because these people are the ones who are ready to purchase. Therefore, the money you invest in the PPC ad campaigns will likely produce better ROI than ads you target for top-of-the-funnel prospects.
Your PPC ads for this phase of the funnel should focus more on solutions and landing pages geared towards making a purchase. If you offer things like a free consultation, throwing some money into a PPC ad that takes users to a landing page where they can book that consultation could be worthwhile. The key here is to target those ads specifically to those ready to purchase and are not just starting their journey.
Does PPC boost your SEO?
Nope. PPC drives traffic to your website, but it doesn’t help your SEO since that’s done organically. Pay-per-click can help support and complement your SEO strategy, but it won’t necessarily improve your overall search engine rankings.
If you’re trying to rank higher on search engines, it doesn’t hurt to use PPC while adding additional high-quality content and optimizing your website for search engines. Since PPC shows front and center when someone searches for your chosen keywords in the search results, searchers can use it to supplement your website’s first-page organic ranking until you can rank for it organically.
Additionally, if you want to take up both the paid and organic spots on the front page of Google, running a PPC campaign and optimizing your SEO strategy could be the way to go.
Do you have to have PPC ads running to optimize your SEO?
As we mentioned before, no. PPC and SEO are two different things that serve two different purposes.
With SEO, your overall goal is to satisfy the searcher’s intent. For instance, let’s say you’re a marketing manager at a bank and you’re interested in finding a new printing company to make signage for regional branches. You might search “signage printing” or “storefront signage” or “display sign printing near me.” If you are the printer and none of these terms (or keyword phrases similar to these) appear on your website, then organically, you’re likely not to get the traffic.
However, suppose you know that you want to target prospects looking for signage specific to your printing services. In that case, you could run an ad with some of these keywords or derivatives of these keyword phrases to try to drive more traffic to your website. To optimize driving traffic to your website, you may want to include those search phrases in your content and run PPC ads targeting those search terms.
Do you have to monitor your SEO and PPC Performance continually?
Why monitor SEO?
First, let’s talk about why monitoring your SEO is important. For those who know what they are doing with SEO optimization, constantly trying to improve your on-site SEO is a job in and of itself. For instance, if you own a cybersecurity company and you are trying to rank in the #1 organic spot on Google, and your competitor is trying to do the same thing, you both should be paying attention to how the other company is doing in rankings so you can attempt to create a content strategy that will win out over theirs.
You’ll want to consistently monitor your website and make sure that you’re not missing out on opportunities to fine-tune parts of your website to compete with the competition.
Does that mean you should constantly be completely modifying your website? No! You need to keep most of your website pretty consistent so the search engines can crawl and index the content. This process can take days to months, so redoing whole pages regularly isn’t going to serve you well. However, whenever you’re creating content for your website, you need to keep search intent and user experience in mind, so you’re already starting on the right foot.
Instead of redoing your website entirely, think about what kind of content you can tweak slightly. This is where A/B testing on your website could come in handy as you test different headers, calls-to-action, and more – which should be tested by keeping your keyword goals in mind.
Additionally, you can add more content to your website to provide additional value created with SEO in mind. For instance, you could write blog articles, provide eBooks or whitepapers, add more landing pages with resources and helpful content, etc.
Why monitor PPC Performance?
To put it bluntly, PPC is a warzone. Since PPC advertising is based on an auction system, it’s constantly a bidding war to get your website to rank higher than other websites attempting to rank for the exact keywords.
With PPC ads, you always want to make sure your website is displaying in the top 3-4 ad placement spots. To do this, you need to make sure you have a good impression share. According to Google, “Impression share (IS) is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get.” This metric can help you evaluate whether it could be worthwhile to increase your ad spend.
To stay more competitive, Google also has an auction insights report that is worthwhile to keep tabs on so you can see how well your ads are performing compared to others in your industry.
How much should you plan to invest in your SEO and PPC?
It depends. Again, since SEO and PPC are two distinctly different marketing types, what you invest in will be different.
Both practices require a time commitment in terms of research and strategy. We typically spend about 80% of our time researching and 20% of our time implementing SEO and PPC strategies for clients. We will spend hours researching competitors, keywords, audiences, and content. Whether we are running PPC ads or creating and optimizing pages for clients, it’s worthwhile to spend some time formulating a strategy before you begin implementing any sort of marketing campaign.
With SEO, since it’s organic, the time you spend creating well-thought-out content, monitoring your web traffic, and optimizing your website is a significant investment.
When it comes to PPC, your industry, what keywords or keyword phrases you’re trying to rank for, your target audience, and many other factors can come into play with determining your ad spend. You could spend anywhere between a few hundred dollars per month to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on your goals.
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