Customer engagement is one of the most important factors that precede customer loyalty. Today’s brands need to build awareness of their products, services, and values as the first step in the customer engagement process. Building awareness of your brand online means that you need to have a good understanding of search engines (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC). Many people think that these two strategies are competing and almost mutually exclusive, so they usually consider investing in one or the other.
Through an interview with Chris Rodgers, founder and CEO of Colorado SEO Pros (CSP), we learned that if you invest in both strategies, you can achieve powerful synergies and impactful results for your brand, whether it’s an e-commerce, e-commerce, or omni-channel.
In this interview, you will learn about these key points:
- How PPC Informs Your SEO Strategy
- Build keyword synergies
- How to determine your core value
- How to achieve conversion optimization
- Building trust and authority
Wise Marketer (TWM): Although search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) are familiar terms, many entrepreneurs struggle to distinguish between the advantages of each when creating a marketing strategy. Can you give us an overview of each, with some pros and cons?
Chris Rodgers (CR): Both channels help increase traffic from search engines, but they do it in different ways. Paid search works well when you need to generate traffic in a shorter time frame, and it works best if you have a large budget to work with. Paid search can expand quickly and produce fast results, however you pay a premium for that fast result, and you don’t build any proprietary value. This means that when you stop paying, all the benefits stop too. Paid search is great at targeting customers when they are near the buying stage of the buyer’s journey, so conversions can be achieved quickly when paid campaigns are executed correctly.
SEOs can bring in much greater returns, but they move slowly, and you need to invest a lot of time and money up front before you see returns. SEO is an iterative process that involves continuous content creation, link building, and technical website making. It can take 3-6 months to see real traffic in a typical SEO campaign. Even after a year, it’s unusual to see huge returns (at least compared to the potential of the big picture). However, SEO results accumulate over time, so as you continue to build, your revenue can continue to increase over the years. Your SEO costs also do not have to increase at the same rate as your results, so your return can become quite large.
SEO also builds value on your website. Although you will see results fade away if you do not continue to perform SEO, you will keep a lot of what you developed in the short to medium term. You’ll also keep the real value from your SEO campaign in the form of optimized landing pages and backlinks.
TWM: These two approaches can be viewed as competing strategies. Are they mutually exclusive or can they be combined into one effective strategy? Why and why not?
Commercial Record: These two channels work great together and can be aligned to get the most out of each other. While many B2C conversions will happen in a single user journey, complex sales that are common in B2B and enterprise SEO will happen after users visit a website multiple times, often through different channels. Typically, these multichannel conversions involve SEO and paid search work together.
For example, you could have a client with informational intent at the top of the SEO funnel do a research about their problem/need and discover one of your blogs. The odds of them converting as a customer at that time are pretty slim, yet they have now been exposed to your brand and become a visitor to your site. From there, as they progress through their buyer journey and SEO funnel, you have the opportunity to serve them to retarget ads reminding them of your brand, as well as offer and keyword-targeted search ads. The probability of conversion increases as you add additional channels to support the buyer’s journey (this also applies to paid social networks).
TWM: Speaking of SEO, strong positioning of search results can be achieved through “earned” means. Brands that create compelling content that engages potential customers can earn better search results. Where does this tactic stand among the paid options?
Commercial Record: Although the content that a brand may generate is technically proprietary media, the traffic from search engines through the SEO process is earned, as is the promotion that may occur on Twitter or social media channels. Other social as a result of exposure to gained SEO. This approach works well in tandem with paid search, but will not replace the paid media that is often performed at the same time. Gained visibility and traffic happen more naturally than paid media and can yield a massive ROI, however it needs to be part of an overall SEO strategy as some content will rank and perform, and other pieces won’t take longer to benefit.
TWM: Google seems to change its methodology for evaluating content quite often. Can you share a summary of how you understand “best practices” in content creation today?
Commercial Record: There are certainly some accepted best practices for on-page SEO, but today’s search algorithm relies heavily on machine learning to help connect users with the best and most useful content. The key is to focus on the user, their goal and stage of the buyer’s journey, and strive to create better, more useful content that stands out from the competition. It’s not about using SEO data to drive content, instead, SEO technology and data is used to support and validate useful marketing content for real people.
TWM: What is the role of keywords in increasing ROI on SEO today?
Commercial Record: A lot of thinking about modern SEO has shifted away from “keywords” and more toward topics and audiences. Keyword data is still very important, but the way keywords are thought of and how they are used has changed among market leaders. Keywords should be used to understand distinct audiences and groups of users based on personas, buyer journey stage, and SEO intent funnel stage. If this context informs keyword mapping and content creation, it can help support a strong ROI within your overall SEO strategy.
ROI should really be measured at the analytics level, and while there are techniques to try and project ROI based on keyword rankings, this approach is often unreliable because there are too many variables to consider.
TWM: Tell us a little bit about your background and about the SEO professionals in Colorado. Also share what would your ideal customer look like and what services would you provide?
Commercial Record: I founded CSP in 2012 as a boutique SEO agency that offers a more advanced and holistic flavor of SEO than what was usual back then. Over the years, we’ve grown in terms of the technology we use (and create), the talent we hire and our overall approach to SEO. We take a business-first approach to SEO that is (surprisingly) somewhat unique. Instead of using SEO data and tools to create a strategy, we create a strategy based on our clients’ business goals and revenue, and then use technology and data to validate and scale that strategy. Revenue and ROI are our north star when it comes to success, with things like ratings and traffic being part of the equation, but secondary.
Our ideal client markets are nationwide in the US (can also serve international markets), can be B2B or B2C, understand the value and potential of SEO, and have the in-house infrastructure to support a comprehensive SEO program. We are looking for clients who are committed to partnering versus contracting with a vendor, that means having an in-house content team or willing to pay for content, have web development resources and are willing to prioritize SEO (or willing to pay for that development), and are generally serious about making Search engine optimization is a priority within the organization. We do not take projects that are inappropriate or do not think we can win them.
We provide professional SEO services, which include SEO consulting and project management, SEO content strategy and content production, technical SEO, and link building. We can make references to other channels, but we live and breathe SEO.
TWM: How do you measure ROI for SEO and PPC? What are the important metrics to track?
Commercial Record: Conversions, sponsored conversions, top conversion paths, page value, and of course revenue if e-commerce is configured. We coordinate closely with the Pay Per Click (PPC) teams but we don’t typically measure paid search conversions and ROI. If you track conversions within analytics and know the average transaction value (ATV) or lifetime customer value (LCV), you can use the internal conversion rate to calculate your ROI. There are some nuances of how to calculate, but the method is fairly straightforward.
TWM: How important is building trust in your content and SEO efforts? How can marketers communicate a message that “sells” or at least “attracts” while building a trustworthy brand perception?
Commercial Record: It is very important. Google’s EAT factors specifically invoke trustworthiness as a primary consideration when evaluating negative impacts from one of Google’s core algorithm updates, and if you’re in the YMYL category, not establishing trust properly can lead to greater declines in Google.
It’s not about the message and more about helping Google (and users) understand that the content is accurate, current, and written by a trusted source. Your message should be directed to the user based on their stage of the buyer journey and SEO intent funnel, so if they have a transactional intent feel free to sell away! Just make sure you state all the facts in an accurate and reliable manner. If you’re serving users looking for more track content, make sure you clearly show the date of publication, a real experienced author, and external links to trusted sources to back up what you’re saying.
Chris Rodgers is the founder and CEO of Colorado SEO Pros (CSP), a professional search engine optimization (SEO) agency serving regional and national organizations and institutions. CSP specializes in delivering a superior SEO experience backed by the most advanced SEO technology, a deep meter of SEO talent and a business-first approach that puts client revenue and campaign ROI as a top priority. CSP has a proven track record of success in competitive sectors and adds value to its clients’ businesses through creativity, dedication and an unparalleled desire to achieve the best results. Chris founded Colorado SEO Pros in 2012.