Digital marketing is a multifaceted industry, whose various practices have been put in place in order to ensure a brand’s online presence is expanded and ultimately accessible to a substantial and loyal customer base. Two of its most notable tools are Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). These channels belong to the respective spheres of Earned Media and Paid Media, but that’s not to say they aren’t compatible with each other. In fact, PPC can prove to be extremely beneficial when it is integrated with SEO practices. Here are four reasons why.
Keywords are an important aspect of any PPC campaign or SEO strategy. No matter which of these channels you’re using to help your brand appear more prominently on Google, you still need to do a significant amount of thorough keyword research. But SEO and PPC do differ in terms of how quickly results show. While the former takes some time, the latter is almost immediate in how it reveals which keywords will work and which will not.
The benefit here is that the data you’ve acquired from your PPC practices can contribute towards your SEO campaign. You’ll have a better idea of what web users are searching for and what keywords they are using, and your SEO strategy will be more effective as a result.
Imagine a scenario in which your brand’s website is attracting a substantial number of visitors and it’s all down to your brilliant SEO strategy. That being said, these visitors merely browse your website and leave it before making a purchase. That is not the desired outcome of directing a web user to your site. Your want their final action to be a purchase, and you can make this happen with some help from PPC.
Basically, PPC will offer you the chance to do some remarketing. While your SEO practices have made an impression on your prospective customers, the Pay-Per-Click advertisements you have created can build on that impression, leading customers beyond the browsing stage. Your brand’s products and services will already be in the mind of the customer and a well-placed advertisement has the chance to drive that customer back to your website, where the desired action will be completed. Thanks to the help of PPC, a purchase just might be made.
SEO and PPC campaigns can often share the same metrics, from conversion and click through rates to bounce and exit rates and the time a prospective customer spends on a website. You can therefore combine data from both these channels, using it to make well-informed decisions for your brand. You’ll be able to ascertain which of your keywords are merely generating traffic to your website and which are able to generate sales. Added to that, after analysing these metrics, you’ll be more able to determine which visitors to your website are interested in making a purchase and which aren’t. With all this information you’ll be able to make better decisions regarding your SEO.
More Local Leads
If your brand is location-specific you’ll want people in the immediate vicinity to come across it when they Google products and services related to your brand. That’s why you should use PPC ads for local searches, as these will help increase the number of local leads to your website. Properly optimised ads will appear on Google searches, while a good SEO strategy will ensure your site shows up on the first Google search page. PPC will therefore improve your presence on Google.
PPC and SEO might represent two different sides of digital marketing, but they work well together. The proper use of PPC practices can easily enhance the benefits of a well-formulated SEO strategy.
The South African automotive industry is among those most frequently impacted by the smallest conditional shifts within the country. When things are going well, consumers have more money to buy locally manufactured vehicles and when Eskom lets the lights go out manufacturing can grind to a halt. The commercialisation of electric vehicle technology in South Africa is also going to have a long-term impact on the performance of several local plants.
While local sales have slumped in recent years due to the economic crunch felt by consumers, good news has recently given new hope to the export half of the market with businesslive.co.za reporting “a potential R60bn could be invested by SA’s vehicle manufacturers and component makers in the next five years” and businesstech.co.za reporting that “South Africa on track for record vehicle exports”. But will this be enough to make up for the shortfall in local sales which shows few signs of improvement?
The motor industry as a whole is suffering from a poor global economy and tariffs dispute between America and China with potential extension of that market unrest between America, the EU and Mexico (where several major manufacturers operate out of to cut labour costs). Manufacturers operating out of South Africa specifically have concerns regarding the country’s stability and the poor economic spending power of consumers as well as power grid stability.
To counteract slumping in-store sales car manufacturers and their dealers are turning increasingly to a more cost effective form of marketing to try and get the message across that in a tight economy, their brand has the best solution. Some in the industry have relied on attractive websites and existing brand strength, such as Volkswagen and Honda, limiting their search and display advertising to smaller budgets and simple banners.
This Spartan approach to their online marketing would likely only work for them. As two of the most popular local brands (along with Toyota and Nissan) they can rely on most car buying South Africans to search for their brands by name if they don’t see an ad to click on. Due to the sheer volume of their vehicles in the country entering the used car market, exposure is also a key element and it’s not one that their competitors can counter with passivity.
It can be said of most South African divisions of large manufacturers however that many have been caught like a bunny in the headlights when it comes to digital marketing. Traffic and engagement remain unfalteringly low for all but the already established brands.
Let’s Look at Some Examples
Below we have some comparative traffic numbers for Honda, the now discontinued Chrysler, Fiat, VW and Volvo over the period of a year. Honda, despite some highs and lows retains a relatively stable average over the course of a year. VW appears as a somewhat distant but relatively stable second while Fiat and Volvo perform little to no better than the abandoned Chrysler website.
Mixing it up a little below it’s apparent that those with the lower brand recognition who don’t pursue a strong online marketing presence also perform on par with Chrysler. Renault stands out but Subaru, Kia and Peugeot are nowhere to be found. Renault’s slight bump here is likely due in some part to their display advertising. Renault, in general, appears to focus more on paid marketing tactics such as search and display than their ‘on tier’ competitors and it’s working for them.
On the other hand their marketing budget doesn’t appear to be that high which means that were a competitor to dedicate a real effort to their own online campaign Renault could quickly find itself losing this narrow margin. Below we get a further indication of paid media spend and effectiveness, with Peugeot, Fiat and Subaru with little to show for whatever efforts they may be putting into a digital strategy. It’s worth noting once more though that even though Kia and Renault are performing better, the degree to which they’re doing so is tenuous.
Zooming in on the ‘all traffic’ window again over Jun 2018 – May 2019 we get a clearer picture of Renault’s complete performance against same tier competitors.
So what are Subaru, Peugeot and Fiat doing wrong?
For one thing, although Fiat does some display advertising, Subaru and Peugeot do little to none and their search campaigns are limited to the degree where it becomes difficult to ascertain their actual scope. Subaru, Peugeot and Fiat have nice looking websites with varying degrees of emphasis on user experience. Fiat’s is very user-friend but has little to no content onsite in which to place critical keywords or run search ads to.
Peugeot’s site is not particularly pretty and gives an impression of being a financial or money lending site at first glance. While it’s easy enough to find the car model you might be looking for more information on there’s little more than technical specs once you get to the car’s page. The site doesn’t do anything to tell the browser what that particular model excels at, what it’s known for or why they should care.
Subaru has a nice looking website that’s quite user-friendly and even has a news section for posting content. Part of their trouble is that they don’t. Publications are infrequent and far from optomised for online searches. They dropped a lot of content in June and a single article in September with nothing else to show for the year on their News page.
The link to real sales
While there are many causes for poor sales numbers to consider there’s a clear pattern here as well.
According to the sales figures from NUMSA the same manufacturers not engaging in digital promotion are seeing lagging sales figures while those who already enjoy powerful brand recognition such as Toyota, VW and Nissan take the lions share of the market. For the lesser known brands to make it in South Africa they need to create an image, claim a niche in the public’s eye and this isn’t something that happens on it’s own.
Many of today’s successful technology companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon are focused on building collaborative environments. Why? Because of greater productivity and creativity.
I’ve read somewhere that one of the biggest trends this year and the next in content marketing is more active engagement outside the silo. In an industry that is quickly evolving, this is essential for a culture of continuous improvement.
Far too many marketing agencies still maintain school playground dynamics; the content producers are huddled in one corner, the PPC’ers in the other, and the Display team somewhere in the middle. This tribalism can easily result into either a popularity contest about which department is the “cool kids table” or into a sort of communal disinterest in what others are up to.
This is perhaps unavoidable in large corporates but luckily at TMI, we’ve learned that giving support, input, sharing resources, and approaching others for information has enabled different departments to be creative and solve problems together.
To quote Rick Bosch, Head of Earned at TMI: “At TMI we have a knowledge sharing culture, meaning we work together, closely. This covers more than just a single department or discipline. Besides working closely across numerous departments, we also work closely with our clients. From hotdesking in their offices, to upskilling internal marketing teams in the latest digital trends and techniques, we don’t keep our knowledge to ourselves, we share it.”
The bar for quality continues to rise as the technology used to create and publish campaigns and content improve. Content marketing, for example, becoming more automated, customised and multichannel. This means that where content producers used to think creatively to produce online material, they might also need an analytical input of the Search and Display specialists to offer value to the target audience.
Here’s a very likely scenario: a new client hires us to execute and manage a PPC campaign for their launch. After two years of a successful PPC partnership, the client upgrades to content as well. The content team is ready to woo the client with their creativity, and whilst it’s all good to have them let their imaginations run wild, how can they make sure their content addresses the problems, questions and desires of the brand’s target audience?
The Search and Display specialists have already pinpointed the client’s marketing and advertising needs, which means they have the data to identify content opportunities.
Each marketing department in the agency has different ways of attracting, engage and convert the client’s customers – and will be able to offer varying insights into the requirements and expectations in terms of the content that will communicate value to the audience.
The point is, every client success story isn’t credited only to a few rock stars in the agency or a single, best performing team, but on the objectives that align different departments to work together. When we extend involvement on a campaign to more people, we enable clients to tap into a deeper pool of ideas, knowledge and skills.
Almost like assembling our very own Avengers team of superheroes.
There’s an old saying in the PR world: “any publicity is good publicity.” The belief is that if your company can become the topic of conversation, it’s a good thing because it stimulates product awareness. And, though negative impressions will disappear over time, increased awareness remains. But how much can we rely on this theory when it comes to a brand’s SERP ranking?
Every year, we see some of the world’s biggest brands trash their reputation in the court of public opinion, whether it’s due to the behaviour of corporate leaders or insensitive campaigns by PR and marketing teams.
Global retailer H&M came under fire for a product image featuring a child wearing a hoodie with the slogan “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” Dove drew global backlash for an advertisement that showed a black model transforming into a white woman. US tech company Cynet Systems sparked outrage after they posted a job position that listed the desired candidate as “preferably Caucasian.” Gillette rustled the feathers of its male customers because of an ad about toxic masculinity, referencing the #MeToo movement. Closer to home, insurance company, Momentum, stirred controversy after initially refusing to pay out a life insurance claim to the widow of a shooting victim.
Some of these PR blunders had serious financial ramifications for the companies involved: Gillette may have suffered loss in sales after customers threatened to stop using its products. It is alleged thatMomentum lost 80 000 clients in one day when the company refused settlement.
However, at the same time, some interesting things were happening on the SEO side of these companies’ websites. Brand mentions for “cynet systems” reached peak popularity on Google Trends around the time news of the scandal broke, with the company’s website experiencing an 86% increase in traffic between March and April.
Similarly, the search term “gillette” surged in January 2019, the time the ad was released, with a 33% jump in traffic from the previous month.
As seen in the examples, when these companies were pushed into the media spotlight, it generated both brand awareness and SEO value. Media outlets have linked back to those companies’ websites in their coverage, something that likely boosted their position on search engine rankings and increased the authority of their domain. For Cynet Systems, it meant a sharp increase in backlinks from highly authoritative sites, which included referrals from NBC News and New York Daily News.
According to Alan Sorensen, an economics professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, bad publicity may actually be good for unknown firms as it can increase brand awareness and boost rankings on SERPs. But, it can put the reputation of established brands at stake.
If your site ends up ranking a little higher as a result of the link juice, unsuspecting customers looking for the type of products or services that you offer, might actually click on your site first.
In the end, remember that search engines do not factor positive or negative reactions toward brands as much the number of quality backlinks. This means as long as you earn lots of inbound links and dominate the news headlines, the sentiment behind these doesn’t matter to Google. Yet.
It seems that reputation is becoming a pretty big factor in Google’s updated Search Quality Raters Guidelines. According to marketing expert Jennifer Slegg, “Google wants their raters to not only look at the reputation of the website itself, but also the content creators themselves…if content is created by someone with a great reputation, it makes sense for Google to rank that content higher than from someone with a bad reputation since it is generally a better user experience for the searcher.”
When rating websites, Google will consider things such as financial fraud reports, overwhelmingly negative reviews, negative reviews from watchdog sites and negative news reports.
If you’re not an SEO specialist you may have believed that the more pages you have targeting a keyword, the better your SEO ranking will be for that keyword. However, having several pages that target the same keyword on your website can actually do more harm than good to your rankings. This SEO misstep is called Keyword cannibalisation, and happens when you have a few pages with the same targeted keywords, which dilutes the strength of the core page.
What is keyword cannibalisation?
Search Engine Journal puts it this way: “Keyword cannibalisation is so called because you’re ‘cannibalising’ your own results – you’re splitting CTR, links, content, and (often) conversions between two pages that should be one”. When this happens Google can’t pick up any of your expertise and you don’t improve the authority of your site for that subject.
How keyword cannibalisation can damage your SEO
Keyword cannibalisation can have several negative effects on your SEO efforts. Most people don’t even realise the disastrous consequences of cannibalisation on their site, which may include a drop off in site traffic, queries being directed to the wrong page, fluctuating SERP rankings, and ultimately a drop in site visits which could mean a drop in sales should you have an ecommerce site. As emphasized by Oncrawl, Keyword cannibalisation lets you miss out on valuable SEO opportunities that include the following:
Content quality: If you are focusing on the same keywords across multiple pages on your site, you may end up with duplicate content. This minimises your chances of receiving referrals and links.
Internal anchor text: Using internal anchor text to link to several pages focused on the same topic doesn’t add any value to your SEO. It is best to focus your anchor text on one specific page.
External links: External links are great for the SEO value of a page focused on one keyword. However, if you have the same keyword across different landing pages, your external link value is split to different pages instead of being targeted at one landing page.
Solving keyword cannibalisation
If you have fallen into the trap of keyword cannibalisation, the good news is that identifying the problem and fixing it is easy. Here are three possible solutions:
Restructure your website: According to Search Engine Journal, the simplest solution to tackling keyword cannibalisation is to “take your most authoritative page and to turn it into a landing page that links to other unique variations that fall under the umbrella of your targeted keywords.”
Create a new landing page: Another option is to create a unique landing page that serves as your authoritative source page which can link to all your other product pages.
Use 301 redirects: Making use of 301s gives you an opportunity to consolidate your cannibalised content by redirecting the less important pages to the targeted landing page. Doing this will ensure that your visitors land on the right landing page. Google will also rank the most valuable page. You should, however, note that this strategy only works best for pages with similar content that match specific keywords.
Look for new keywords: The final thing you can do is simply to find new keywords, as the only thing doing damage to your website is likely to be a poorly planned keyword strategy. All you need to do is ensure that your keywords describe your page’s content accurately.
While keyword cannibalisation can occur unintentionally, it happens more frequently today than ever before. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to this problem and the damage isn’t permanent. You can now easily find and fix cannibalisation issues on your site.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly become a prevalent tool with the digital marketing industry, and shows no signs of stopping. Digital asset management company Canto states that “over 100 marketing tools are already AI-enhanced, and it’s expected that nearly all [marketing technology] will have AI capabilities in 2019.” This is particularly true when it comes to both SEO and content marketing.
AI and Content Strategy
When it comes to creating and implementing a content strategy, AI can prove extremely beneficial, particularly when it comes to data analytics. AI can collect and analyse large amounts of data pertaining to a brand’s audience. What’s more, it could perform this task far more quickly than any human being. Using the data that has been collected, marketers could formulate a strong and properly targeted strategy comprised of content that is personalised based on numerous factors, from shopping tendencies and location, to personal traits and interests.
Personalisation is crucial to content strategy creation, with audience members seeking content that speaks more to their own situations, and to their particular concerns and wishes. Brands can respond by tailoring online shopping experiences that are based on shopping tendencies that are particular to a specific user. AI can help with this, enabling you to create specialised features based on consumer data and behaviour.
Added to all that, brands will be able to create more effective content marketing strategies with the help of AI marketing assistants. This is hardly the stuff of the future, as proven by Lucy, IBM Watson’s very own AI assistive tool. Lucy can help in the research and analysis of marketing data, the segmentation of target audiences, and the planning of media strategies.
AI and Search Engines
Search engines are, of course, integral to SEO, and over time they’ve become far better when it comes to ranking pages. Due to their gradual improvement, SEO marketers have had to up their own game with regards to how they implement SEO strategies. Not only have they had to brush up on functions that are related to SEO, such as metadata optimisation and link acquisition, but they’ve also had to consider how users are and will be searching for products and services on Google.
After all, as content intelligence platform Atomic Reach notes on Search Engine Journal, “Google…is always improving their search algorithms to adjust to how consumers are searching.” For example, Google is already adapting itself to the steadily growing popularity of voice search, having already enabled Google Assistant to recognise human conversation. Now, as Atomic Reach explains, “it is estimated that 50 percent of searches will be voice-based.”
More and more tools
We’ve already spoken a bit about online tools enabled by AI that help consumers access content more easily and help marketers create effective content strategies. But it doesn’t stop here. There are other programmes and platforms that use AI technology to make things a little bit easier for brands. For example, HubSpot and Buzzsumo are able to notify a company when it has been mentioned by another source, while Atomic Reach tracks analytics in order to measure content performance.
AI is gradually becoming a pertinent tool within the field of digital marketing, as proven by its effects on both the creation of content marketing strategies and on SEO. Numerous tools have been and are being developed in order to help brands with their digital marketing and enable web users to navigate content in a way that best suits their specific needs. What with all these advancements, who knows what the marketing industry will look like in the next ten years?