Why technical SEO is the best paid search optimization
It’s been a long-time fallacy that paid and organic search exist to fill each other’s gaps. Not ranking for something? Run a paid ad! Is a keyword too competitive? Try ranking organically! While it’s a nice theory, the reality is that the two are much more intertwined. For example, there’s greater benefit to having paid and organic search results overlap.
Time and time again Collective Measures has run the analysis, and time and time again we find that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to paid and organic search. When the listings show together, clients are rewarded. A paid ad’s presences bolsters the organic click-through rate and vice versa.
Often paid and organic search teams live as separate entities within an organization, but the reality is that these two channels operate in the same ecosystem. There is only one search engine results page, and the algorithms across paid and organic search are more alike than ever. But, these two channels don’t simply provide the benefit of overlapping listings in the search engine results page. The greater benefits lie in overlapping optimizations.
Possibly the most underrated paid search optimization is technical search engine optimization (SEO). Site speed, URL structure, site architecture, lead form optimization, indexable pages, the list goes on and on. All of these technical optimizations are not only beneficial to organic rankings, but they also have a tremendous impact on paid search. So why does technical SEO so often get disassociated from paid search? Here are some of our hypotheses:
- Cost-per-click (CPC) is king. Because paid search forces advertisers to pay per click, those click costs are the first thing advertisers pay attention to when optimizing for SEM campaigns. Keyword optimization, bid strategies and ad copy are some of the most impactful factors in getting those click costs down.
- Landing page relevance & conversion rate. Landing page relevance is about the content on the website and if it is relevant to the targeted keywords. But another way search engines determine relevance is based on conversion rate. If users get to a brand’s landing page and leave without spending much time or leave without taking action, search engines recognize that the user didn’t find the information relevant. A brand can have the most perfectly targeted keywords, with the most relevant ad copy and a landing page with content that perfectly matches the user’s needs and still struggle to get users to convert. Why? Page speed. Non-user friendly pages, and non-user friendly site structure. Basically, anything that is generally categorized under “technical SEO”.
Technical SEO optimizations that drive paid search performance
Page speed is a core Google ranking factor. This means it’s critical for brands to have a faster page speed than its competitive set. But page speed is also mission critical for user experience. Users simply aren’t willing to wait around for a page to load. In a survey conducted by Digital.com, 53% of users expect pages to load in three seconds or less, and 21% say slow loading pages are their biggest gripe when shopping online. Half will simply abandon their carts if a page doesn’t load fast enough.
By ignoring core technical SEO elements like website speed, marketers may be opting away from relevant paid search placements. We know this is a bold statement, but here’s the data to back it up: Collective Measures conducted a regression analysis for a client with poor site speed. The analysis was conducted based on 13-months of data and a 90% confidence. The analysis showed for every 1-second of page speed improvement, there was a 3-5% increase in paid search conversion rate. This increase in paid search conversions equated to between $82,000 and $217,000 in revenue per month. Simply stated, this analysis illustrates what a monumental impact strong technical SEO can have on paid search campaigns.
Website structure & crawlability
With the rise of automation across search engines, a website that doesn’t have a good technical foundation is doomed to lose in the paid landscape. Dynamic search campaigns (DSAs) are a great example as to why. DSA campaigns target URLs rather than keywords, then Google’s algorithm crawls the website and read the content. This is how Google understands what a page is about. From there, Google will match landing pages to relevant searches in real time. Sound familiar? It should! Because that’s exactly how organic search has operated since the dawn of time.
DSA campaigns will also create dynamic ads based on content and meta tags, even further connecting paid search to organic optimizations. The proof? Collective Measures implemented a DSA campaign for one of our clients, which generally picks up a significant number of long tail, incremental traffic. However, for this e-commerce client the campaign almost never served due to the site structure not being optimized. Because the website was difficult to crawl and index due to poor technical SEO, the DSA campaigns – which rely on similar technology – could not properly function and therefore did not perform. This further proves the close connection between paid and organic search optimizations and how the two work so closely together to improve performance overall.
What does this mean for marketers?
When reviewing existing paid search campaigns, don’t simply optimize away from keywords that aren’t converting. This can be a shorted sighted optimization that will help efficiency, but ultimately hurt volume as you could be weeding out highly relevant traffic that isn’t converting due to issues being categorized as “organic optimizations”. If paid search conversion rates are low, look to your SEO counterparts or trusted SEO partner. Ask them to complete a technical SEO audit and carefully review elements such as site speed, structure, and meta descriptions. By analyzing these elements and their associated metrics can help marketers not only understand how to maintain volume, while helping efficiency in paid search. Not only that but making technical SEO improvements will benefit organic performance and can positively impact conversion rates from all traffic sources, too.