Ever since I started my career in internet marketing, there has been a strange, yet constant battle between PPC and SEO that attempts to decide which is better. Personally, I think we should all be friends!
SEO and PPC vary in many ways — SEO is “free” traffic, while PPC is a way to pay to get traffic to your website. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and both have varying conversion rates.
In the table above, I took two different clients from two different industries. As you can see, as long as you have relevant landing pages to the user with good calls to action, good PPC conversion rates are higher than good SEO conversion rates (sorry SEO folks, PPC wins here, but I won’t hold that against you). Let me explain why this is.
What Causes the Difference in Conversion Rates?
The main factors that cause a difference in conversion rates between SEO and PPC are:
· Negative Keywords
SEO does not have negative keywords, but luckily, PPC does. Negative keywords allow you to target certain types of searchers by their phrasing. SEO does not have these negative keywords, so your website can still appear for keywords that may drive visitors to your website but won’t necessarily convert them. These customers that may not be in your target market will cause a decrease in your SEO conversion rate.
For example, if you offer a luxury service, you may not want to offer discounts or have price-centric buyers discovering your service. SEO does not allow you to eliminate these buyers, but PPC allows you to get rid of a majority of them using negative keywords such as “cheap,” “discount” or “bargain.”
Targeting options, such as specific locations, are much better defined in PPC than in SEO. While you can use keywords to tell the search engines about your service areas with SEO, PPC has concrete targeting options. It is possible to decide the area you want to target through the click of a button.
Overall, PPC gives you control of the keywords you want to target so you can send traffic to specific pages based on the keyword match types you are targeting. SEO allows you to do this to an extent, but you cannot control if your page shows up for the same city in another state and someone clicks on it. In PPC, you can control that — it is possible to only target specific areas within an area.
How to Find a More Accurate SEO Conversion Rate
When working on a local SEO campaign, you might get searches from outside your service area. If you are a local home services company in the DC metro area, searches from Texas or another country might not be relevant to your business, so there is an easy way to fix this in Google Analytics to help you determine a more accurate SEO conversion rate.
1. In the Audience Overview report, click the arrow next to “All Sessions” along the top:
2. Click the “Create New Segment” button:
3. Name your segment — I would suggest something like “Visits within Service Area”:
4. Define your service area in the “Demographics” section.
Decide if your service area is a Region (state or multiple states) or City (can be one or multiple) and select the appropriate choice.
a. If you are selecting a single region or city, choose “contains,” and then select the one within your service area:
b. If you are selecting multiple regions or multiple cities, choose “matches regex” and type in the regions or cities you want to include separated by “|”:
5. Save your segment:
Now, when you apply that segment, you will see Visits within Service Area separated out from All Sessions:
What Does This Mean?
While there is a difference between SEO and PPC landing pages, there are some common elements that should be used for both in order to increase conversions, like navigation, calls to action and testing (see the graphic below!).
Overall, you can’t expect your SEO conversion rate to be as high as your PPC conversion rate (unless your paid search specialist isn’t doing his or her job!) There are simply fewer targeting options with SEO than with PPC.
Moreover, if you are experiencing PPC conversion issues, don’t get rid of your PPC team just yet! They may need to do additional keyword research or consider optimizing your website (or even just the landing pages) for conversions. Optimizing for conversions is important for lead generation, particularly for PPC, since you have complete control where users are sent in your website and can make those webpages as targeted as possible, allowing for more qualified leads.
So what’s the highest conversion rate you’ve seen for your SEO or PPC campaigns, and how did you do it? Go ahead and brag in the comment section!