SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa)

  •   November 26, 2019

When marketers are looking at different marketing platforms and channels, they may be looking at them in isolation — for example, seeing SEO as being completely separate from social and entirely separate from PPC advertising. 

This is not necessarily wrong, but it is not entirely correct, either. SEO and PPC campaigns can be intricately linked, and though they function completely separately, the data from your PPC campaigns can actually help you bolster SEO results and vice versa.

Knowing how to leverage advertising data for organic results and organic data for your PPC campaigns, however, is crucial; there is overlap, but there are distinct differences to keep in mind, too. To help with this, we are going to take you step-by-step through the process of finding the data you can use to advance your campaigns on both marketing platforms along with sharing some advice from top experts in the field.

SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa). Image 0

Enrich Your Keyword Lists – Both for SEO and PPC

Keywords play a crucial role in both SEO and PPC (Google Ads and Bing Ads). While you want to do initial keyword research separately, you will want to take what you learn from your current existing campaigns to adjust their paid or organic counterparts.

You will, for example, want to leverage your advertising data to find the most profitable keywords in your SEO campaigns. These keywords are clearly capable of bringing in high-value customers that will generate revenue, so consider giving them higher importance in your organic SEO strategy.

To track your website’s daily rankings for a new set of target keywords, use SEMrush’s Position Tracking Tool. You can set your targeting to watch any specific geographic location and any device type, including mobile phone, tablet, or desktop.

Rankings Overview

Rob Watson said it best:

Rob Watson

Rob Watson
MD & Founder at Freewheeling
Knowing what keywords convert prospects into customers is of immense value — regardless of if those keywords are from SEO, Google Ads, Bing Ads, Google Shopping — it makes little difference. The more we can leverage data from all channels, the better. So I always welcome insight from SEO teams on what’s working well for them.

It is also a good idea to look at keywords that you are struggling to rank for against top competitors that you believe could be valuable and use PPC campaigns to rank for them instead.

You can take a look at your Google Analytics reports at this point to take a look for keywords that are driving high-value traffic to your site. To find this report, click on “Acquisition,” then “campaigns,” and then “Organic Keywords.”

Gary Spagnoli explained how this works for his teams:

Gary Spagnoli

Gary Spagnoli
Founder of Zen Anchor
The SEO and PPC teams work closely together through the full client engagement. For us, SEOs frequently identify keywords that drive high converting organic traffic that is then used for experimentation in the paid space. Occasionally it works the opposite way, but more frequently than not, the SEO leads.


Finally, dive into competitive research here. Within SEMrush’s Keyword Gap, you can view the keywords that each individual competitor is using to structure their SEO and PPC campaigns. 

Determine which organic keywords your rivals use, and see how these keywords are benefiting both you and them (if at all).

competitor organic keyword research

Apart from organic search, you can look for keywords your rivals use for paid search to help you assess whether you want to add these keywords to your campaigns, and if so, what you should expect or be willing to pay.

competitor paid keyword research

If you would like to investigate which keywords your competitors are ranking organically for and advertising for at the same time, the Keyword Gap Tool is the one to use here again. Enter your competitor’s domain, select organic and paid keywords, and choose “common keywords.” As a result, you will understand which competitors’ keywords are at the top of their list and test them for your campaigns. 

Pro tip: Use advanced filters to sort out the organic positions (for example: include -> *competitor’s domain* -> less than 11) to make sure that your competitor is ranking organically on the first page.

competitor keyword research

competitor keyword research

Craig Campbell explained why competitor research can be so valuable:

Craig Campbell

Craig Campbell
SEO Trainer & Consultant at Craig Campbell SEO
You can take someone’s organic keyword rankings and turn them into a Google Adwords campaign; this is a common approach where you can utilize the data and form a paid campaign to get yourself started online. Or, on the flip side of things, you can take advantage of someone’s amazing paid campaign and then target those keywords organically. Utilizing that data is key, and with some people, their strategy is mainly paid, and it costs a lot of money to figure out the best keywords to bid on, so this is a good way to pick keywords for an organic campaign. The research and competitor analysis that is done via organic or paid search can be used to form a campaign to enable you to grow your business online.


SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa). Image 6

Protect Tour Brand or Go for Branded Competitors’ Keywords

Brand keywords can be a double-edged sword. If you optimize for your own, you may miss the chance to optimize for keywords that could help you connect with those who haven’t heard of you yet, but you don’t want to leave those keywords open for someone else to come in and steal out from under you. 

And from the opposite perspective, there can be a great opportunity to swoop in and bid on your competitor’s branded keywords, leveraging their brand awareness for your potential benefit, especially in PPC campaigns. 

When it comes to branded keywords, they can be used to protect your brand or to go after your competitors; you need to use them correctly.

PPC can be a great addition to SEO when it comes to brand keywords (your own or your rivals), but you need to carefully determine if it is worth hunting competitor brands or investing in your own brand protection.

To bid or not to bid on your brand — that is the question. And unlike Shakespeare’s rhetorical questions, we actually have an answer.

First, do the following:

1. Explore your CTR and conversions. How much are you potentially losing by not bidding on your brand terms? Are people searching for them regularly, and is the cost relatively low? You don’t want to eat up your ad spend bidding on branded terms if people are intentionally searching you out and will find you organically, but if it is low cost, it can help ensure that your competition isn’t snagging any of those clicks.

SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa). Image 7

Screenshot was taken from SEMrush’s Advertising Research

2. Explore the competition for your brand keywords, either manually or with SEMrush’s Advertising Research. Type your competitor’s name in the search bar and use advanced filters to identify whether your competitor bid on your brand keywords or not.

competitor bid on your brand keywords

If your competition is going all-in bidding on your brand, you should, too. You don’t want anyone else to be able to capitalize on your brand name for yourself. 

Keep the digital sales funnel in mind when making this choice. As Nadya Birca says:

Nadya Birca

Nadya Birca
Co-Founder at STEPP Digital
If your brand is well known both offline and online, organically bidding on own brand terms might be found debatable. However, if your brand depends on generating demand, non-brand PPC & SEO would need to go hand in hand across the funnel. Here success metrics should differ per stage of the funnel: i.e., upper-funnel success metrics should be different from lower-funnel performance achievements.

And now the second part of the equation: To bid or not to bid on competitor brands?

Evaluate the search volume and competitive density for competitor brand terms, and decide if it is worth the investment. Here, for example, you can see that SimpliSafe was prioritizing competitor keywords like “ring security.” Enough of their potential buyers are searching for a specific product that it makes sense to bid on these keywords to throw their hat in the ring.

SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa). Image 9

SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa). Image 10

Screenshot was taken from SEMrush’s Advertising Research

Note that while bidding on competitors’ branded keywords is an acceptable practice, some experts argue against it. Richard Falconer shared this belief:

Richard Falconer

Richard Falconer
Managing Director at Yard
Avoid bidding on competitor brands. Brand hijacking is quite widely considered an acceptable tactic but can be misleading or irritating for some users. People don’t intend to land on a competitor when performing a navigational search for a brand. As a tactic, brand hijacking can be effective, but it is interruptive and probably misleading.

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Strengthen Your Local Presence

Want to attract a local audience? Sometimes this can be difficult; gaining good visibility in the Local Pack organically can be a challenge and takes time. Patience is a virtue in organic SEO marketing, and the need for it can be undeniably frustrating while brands wait to increase their ranking, watching potential sales fall away in the meantime. 

PPC can be an outstanding support option for this purpose, especially thanks to Google’s new Local Campaigns, which allow you to promote your business across Google Maps, YouTube, and both Google’s search and display networks. Paid ads give you an opportunity to skip the queue, so to speak, taking advantage of ad spend to have high visibility early on, and these ads give you exceptional reach across multiple ad platforms.

SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa). Image 12

Halide Ebcinoglu used this strategy to increase traffic to nearly 50 car dealerships in Turkey. She broke down her strategy for us:

Halide Ebcinoglu

Halide Ebcinoglu
Atom Ant & Search Rockstar at Kubix Digital
In implementing the strategy across location-based campaigns, we bid on location-related keywords such as KIA Istanbul, and used geo-targeting to increase bids by 20% within a 20km radius of any KIA Dealership. We also added location extensions to display the nearest store address within the ads. The new Google ad type, Local Campaign, allowed us to brand KIA dealership locations in Google Maps alongside new deals and car models. By clicking on the KIA logo, consumers would see a call to action, encouraging them to call or get directions to the nearest dealership. Knowing that Google Maps and Local Pack engagements will go up with the new campaign, we updated and corrected all their dealership Google My Business accounts beforehand, to make sure that visitors have a positive user behavior and find all the necessary information they are looking for.

SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa). Image 13

She added, “With our integrated local strategy, we were able to increase store visits by 105%, year over year. The Google Local Campaign alone drove approximately 1,500 additional store visits. The local strategy not only increased offline store visits, but also the online test drive and appointments increased by 270%.”


Creating campaigns based on strong, heavily researched data will allow you to use both search engine optimization and search ads to the fullest. This strategy can improve your success across both channels without having to rely on cheap tricks or “growth hacks” that can result in consumers distrusting your brand. 

Though both organic SEO and PPC advertising campaigns are completely separate marketing channels, you can achieve an incredible synergy that benefits your campaigns on both channels when you leverage the data you have gained from each one to inform the other.

Looking for new ways to collect and assess data on both your PPC and organic search campaigns? Start your free trial with SEMrush today!

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