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What In-House SEO and PPC Teams Can Learn From Each Other by Mark Munroe and Evan Waters
M A R K M U N R O E : @ M A R K E M U N R O E , M A R K M U N 9 9 @ G M A I L . C O M
E V A N W A T E R S : @ P P C B R O , W A T E R S E V @ G M A I L . C O M
In-House SEO And PPC: What
You Can Learn From Each
Director, SEO – Trulia
Past sites: MerchantCircle, UsedCars.com, EverydayHealth,
Whattoexpect.com, SideStep (now part of Kayak), PeopleSmart
Blog: www.seoradar.com, www.afterpanda.com
Up until last month, worked at Inflection with Evan
Search Marketing Manager, Inflection
PPC Consultant for B2B and B2C companies
Founder of Festival Transportation Business
@PPCBro, blog: www.PPCBro.com
SEO Headache: Understanding the impact of on-
Can SEM help?
• My Goal: test page changes across various long-tail templates to test
impact on rankings, click-through, conversions.
• Small changes can make a significant difference (keywords, modifiers, calls
• However, impact can be positive or negative. I want wins only!
• What can SEM do to help?
Split Testing for SEO
SEM at Inflection has developed a sophisticated
The goal for SEM is purely monetization.
With some modifications, I have been able to use
their methodology and infrastructure for SEO testing
against long-tail pages.
SEO Split Test
For SEM – all versions run against the same URL.
For an SEO long-tail test, I need the specific URLs to
consistently render the same test version so Google’s
cache remains consistent for the time period of the
I define my different tests based on URL structure,
so the webserver dynamically determines which
version to server.
Example Title Test
“[keyword] | Find [modifier] [modifier] [modifier]”
Or specifically “[first name] [last name] Find Phone
Number, Address & Email”
Things to test:
Is the action verb (Find) hurting due to it’s prominent position
in the title?
Would I be better off attaching the primary keyword to a
What would be the impact of switching the order of the
Will an exact match with an H1 help or hinder due to over-
We trigger an event for a landing on each different
version. (Event can then be used to create segments).
We analyze the impact on rankings across all
versions and control.
We analyze traffic, conversion, UX metrics and
monetization across all versions and control.
By applying the same type of methodical split-tests
typically done in an SEM organization, I am able to
improve traffic and conversions on the organic traffic.
I can take known winners from SEM and apply to
organic traffic to get conversion boosts while
mitigating SEO risks.
In this case, my sample case, I achieved a 12% increase
monetization by removing the action verb.
SEO Headache: Identifying Content Initiatives
To increase organic traffic – I am always looking
for content initiatives, particularly long-tail.
The challenge: a long-tail content initiative is a lot
of work! Need to quantify the potential before
Content Initiatives? Can SEM Help?
SEM uses phrase match and broad match to
effectively target long-tail searches.
Examining existing SEM campaigns reveal potential
long-tail SEO opportunities.
SEM can also be a testing ground for brand new
long-tail opportunities with test campaigns.
SEM uses tokenization tool to identify multi-word
SEO Headache: Increasing $$$ via Improved
SEO is not just about traffic but ultimately revenue.
SEO spends little time optimizing meta
descriptions for better clickthrough (data in
WebMaster Tools is suspect).
SEM and Optimized Ad Copy
SEM spends an extensive amount of time testing ad
copy and sitelinks to optimize revenue.
Working together with SEM team, I can test out
optimized meta descriptions to see if I can push
traffic up independent of rankings.
Headlines can also help with optimizing titles for
clickthrough (being mindful of traffic impacts).
From Keyword List to Content Plan
them into a
Hub is a good
SEO/SEM Headache: Branded Search
I need to control the organic search results for
branded search (promoting positive results).
SEO/SEM Challenge: Reputation Management
Challenge: Present a positive brand experience for a
branded search term.
SEM needs SEO to control the organic results and
push down negative results.
SEO needs SEM to control as much space as
Social can help us both by taking up additional white
Can SEM Help with Branded Search?
SEM campaigns aimed at branded search can indeed
help by controlling content above the fold with
branded ads, further pushing down negative results.
SEM utilizes various ad extensions to elongate its
SEM can buy media on negative brand sites and in
email inboxes to help control the message
What Content To Use For Ambiguous Queries
Understand Intent on Ambiguous Search
What should a landing page consist of for ambiguous
Reviews? Products? Customer Service?
Use sitelink extensions to find out!
Profit, Conversions, Brand Exposure?
Not every keyword will be profitable
Determine best channel for profitability
If at first PPC fails, SEO may succeed!
How Does Your Company Value Sales?
Grow Incremental Conversion Volume
Find New Traffic Sources
Good marketers segment
Sometimes we get ahead
Check SEO data for PPC
Don’t stop now!
Don’t stop at your own SEO report
Google Trends for GEO research
Event-Based Marketing Headache
When is the best time to spend our scarce resources?
When is the best time to create content?
Leverage Data to Plan Channels
For time-sensitive events, it is important to know
where your customers are when and what they are
How does query intent change as the event gets
What does the purchase time line look at?
How does that data fit in with company planning?
Achieving High Quality Score Through Landing Page
Learning From Panda
Google favors results—duh!
Don’t make the user repeat search on site
SEO Focus on User Experience
In the Post-Panda world, SEO @ Inflection we developed a strong
focus on the User Experience. Happy users from Google = good
We leverage user tests and survey tools (Survey Monkey, Qualaroo)
to develop a deep understanding of why users came to different
sections of our site.
SEM can leverage that data and use that insight to improve
develop a deeper understanding of the user
test alternate messaging based on user survey data and user testing
market different products
Image Ads Are Expensive with Last Click Attribution
Grow Sales With View-Throughs
What is the value of a View-Through?
Google Insights Study
Public Service Announcement Test
Try Competitor Research Test
SEO & SEM Together is Money!
1 + 1 DOES NOT EQUAL 2
New Report in AdWords query performance reports
demonstrate that the whole is greater than the sum
of the parts!
What synergies are there for the two channels?
Is there a difference between brand and non-brand?
192% higher CTR on our paid ads when an organic
listing was also present.
637% higher CTR on our organic listings when an
ad was also present
Data is normalized to AD = 1.00%
66% higher CTR on our paid ads when an organic
listing was also present.
92% higher CTR on our organic listings when an
ad was also present
Data normalized to AD CTR = 1.00%
Paid v Organic Case Study
Found top query without any ads running
Created exact match keyword and ad
Bid high to ensure impression share
39% Increase in CTR
SEO/SEM Working Together
• Organizationally, SEM reports to marketing and SEO reports to
• This is typical and can lead to limited informational sharing
• Regular cross team meetings where review of current campaigns
and strategies as well as new initiatives is key to establishing open
communication between groups.