Over 15 years as a digital marketer, I’ve seen many marketing teams plan and manage their PPC and SEO separately. While SEO and paid digital are technically different disciplines, there are crossovers between the two where efficiencies can be gained from doing them as a single motion vs in silos.
This blog post recaps the major strategies from a webinar hosted by Netsertive and Google, which focused on the specific crossovers in strategy and execution between SEO and paid digital. Check out the top highlights to see how Franchise Brands can use SEO and PPC together to rank higher in search engine results and capture more leads.
Make it easy to develop unique, local content
Google’s search results are highly personalized and based on geographical location, and unique local content plays a big role in a local business’ ability to rank higher in SERPs.
The best way to get a local content engine up and running is to make it easy for franchisees to get involved along with home office teams, by setting up your website and location pages in a way that facilitates easy local content creation and distribution.
The home office team can centrally control the site, while building out individual local microsites or location pages that each franchisee is able to update or add unique local content to. This set-up allows for more pages with unique local content and page elements, which will help with both organic and paid rankings, and avoid duplicate content. Unique local page elements can also be surfaced in the organic or paid placements as sitelink extensions, which further increases clickthrough rate because it exposes another layer of choice and information for people.
The system behind local content and SEO efforts can make or break your program's success, so make sure to not only build a system that makes it easy from a tech and UI perspective, but also rewards franchisees because they know they’ll get business from the efforts.
Get better insights with hyperlocal learning
A huge benefit to executing and analyzing SEO and paid together is the shared insights and hyperlocal learnings. If you can see which paid keywords are converting the best, that will help inform and refine your SEO strategy and what topic clusters and pillar pages you should be focused on next on your website.
Or visa versa, SEO reporting exposes intent and can help build your negative keyword list. If there’s a dual meaning in your industry or a keyword that’s not applicable to what you have to offer, it will show up in your SEO report as a non-ranking or non-converting keyword. You can easily blow a lot of money on paid digital if you don’t have a robust and constantly groomed negative keyword list!
In addition, a recent case study on The Network Effect: How Shared Data & Technology Makes Franchisees More Successful, is a great example of what can be done when you have hyperlocal reporting at your fingertips. Netsertive partnered with a franchise brand to run hyperlocal digital advertising for their franchisees, and after digging into the performance metrics by location we noticed a few franchisees had display campaigns that were performing really really well. They had a heavy mix of display advertising, so we went ahead and shifted budget from search to display across their entire network of locations (went from a mix of around 60% search / 30 display to 20% search / 80% display). The shift resulted in a reduced cost per lead by 31% system wide!
Revisit your buyer persona
The center of any good SEO or paid digital strategy is your customer and the keywords they are using. Before you jump into keyword research, start by getting a better idea of your ideal buyers’ intent and headspace around what they are looking for when they go online. Revisit your buyer persona and brainstorm what words and phrases they use, listen to call recordings to hear directly what language they use, and check out surveys to simply better understand what your customer is researching and looking for.
After this step, review the themes and decide or revisit what topics your brand wants to be known for. This is where competitive intel and differentiation comes into play, to determine the unique position your brand can take in the market. Only after these brainstorming and mind mapping exercises are done should you turn to keyword planning tools, to get some specific ideas going off of your brainstorm list.
Do keyword research through the eyes of your customer
There are multiple ways to do keyword research and the key is to approach everything through the eyes of your customer. You can use Google’s auto suggest in the search bar to get simple ideas going or use a keyword planner tool to dig deeper and note the search volume, competition and where you see the different opportunities. You can stay away from keywords with zero search results or topics that are completely dominated by a competitor. Look at all the data with the lens of creating content and ad copy that's specific to your customer’s questions, and owning the topics you want to be known for. We recommend revisiting your keyword strategy every three months to stay on top of changing trends and refining your approach.
Test with paid and then start SEO initiatives
After developing a robust keyword list, paid digital is the perfect place to test out what keywords will perform. You can easily turn paid ads on and off, and see what works and what doesn't. That intel can then inform your SEO and content strategies, which are longer initiatives that you have to do right. Your paid campaigns will expose what topics and keywords convert that you should be focused on to build topic clusters and start establishing that expertise and unique content around.
Once you have your paid, content, and SEO initiatives underway all of that keyword intelligence can be used to inform and optimize your strategies over time.
Increase Local Website Conversions
No matter how good your SEO or paid digital campaigns are, they are all for nothing if you don’t have a website to capture that traffic and convert it to paying customers. As marketers, we know that you have to have a website that converts, which means it has to load quickly, be mobile friendly, and drive consumers to the information they are looking for in the minimal amount of steps possible.
A poor conversion funnel is one that takes a consumer who searched for a “home remodeling company near me” directly to a company's home page. This requires extra steps from the consumer, to navigate to the location finder to look up the location nearest them to find the local information they are looking for. A great local website conversion would take that visitor directly from the SERP to the location page with the relevant local information and call to action in 1 - 2 clicks.
Every second and click matters to retain our attention, and the user experience between your organic or paid search results and your website’s location pages need to be optimized to achieve the best performance.
Focus on strong systems and workflows based on your website
Another reason to do SEO and paid digital together is for the program management and operational benefits. Franchise marketing is a team sport - to do it really well you need to get your franchisees or your sales team, and various vendors all operating off of the same playbook. The author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, famously said, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” This couldn't be more true for franchise brand markers - if there's friction in your processes, systems and tools then you're not going to get your desired result.
THE biggest element that's going to impact your system, workflows and your ability to do local SEO and paid digital well is your website.
Franchise brands that are killing it on the SEO and paid digital side are the ones that have a simple, rewarding workflow in place to centrally manage their web presence, while also providing their franchisees to get involved with developing authentic, unique, local content.
Translate all brand authority into digital brand authority
Another way to build unique local content, boost your digital presence and search rankings, is to ensure you and your franchisees digitize any marketing in the physical world into the digital world.
The example we love is from our team member Maddy Park and her family. They own a Men In Kilts franchise in Philadelphia and recently attended their town's fall festival. They handed out flyers with QR codes, wore their kilts, and took tons of pictures, which they used to post on social media and blog post content. They also could have pitched a story to a local reporter or a news station to get local pickup or an article written. It's a great reminder that whenever there's something happening in the physical world or in local communities, it has to get translated to the digital world because that content is gold to further boost your online brand authority organic rankings.
Let Branded Search Ads & Organic Listings Work Together
A recent Google study found that when search ads for a keyword were paused, approximately 89% of traffic generated by these ads were not replaced by the organic rankings. So this means that pausing your PPC ads could actually negatively impact your traffic, even if your site is naturally ranking #1!
As another example, if you're not doing Google ads and your organic search results page shows up fifth or further down the search page, you're missing out on almost double the amount of traffic that you could be driving if you were using Google ads in tandem with your search engine optimization strategies. Showing up in both organic and paid search results increases your brand’s real estate and increases your chances of being clicked on.
Build a strong digital footprint and keep business listings up-to-date
People are 31% more likely to check out Google’s local business listings than they were before the pandemic, so it's critical to ensure your brand, local listings, and online reputation is up-to-date and sound. In addition, 87% of people say that the online listing or online review will have some type of influence on whether they move forward with a local business, and most people turn to Google Business Listings to discover and choose a local business. A strong digital presence and up-to-date local listings will capture more consumers at the local level.