10 tips for combining SEO and paid search

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While search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search are often seen as independent processes by digital marketers, the consumer sees a search results page as a single experience, and research shows that paid and natural search do impact eachother. Savvy marketers can leverage search results pages as holistic marketing vehicles, planning and measuring their SEO and PPC efforts together to bring the separate sciences of paid and natural into harmony.

As we head into the critical holiday season for retailers, here's a look at 10 key force-multipliers that leverage search results pages to maximize the impact of both your PPC and SEO efforts.

Stay informed! To learn more about optimization strategies and targeting your audience, attend the iMedia Agency Summit. Dec. 6-9. Learn more about the iMedia Agency Summit.

1. Follow proven SEO best practices
There are many standard SEO best practices, but avoiding duplicate content is a vital SEO rule for retailers. Duplicate content is a term used in the field of search engine optimization to describe content that appears on more than one webpage. Retailers plagued with duplicate content can see thousands or hundreds of thousands of their detail pages become excluded from the search indexes because a search engine has determined that these URLs already exist in their web index.

Here are few examples of duplicate URLs situations:

Product pages:

  • www.example.com/product.asp?item=1234
  • http://www.example.com/product.asp?item=1234&extra=parameter&same=content
  • www.example.com/product.asp/item/1234/

Category pages:

  • http://www.example.com/category.asp?cat=shoes&pageview=top10
  • http://www.example.com/category.asp?cat=sheos&pageview=top30
  • http://www.example.com/category.asp?cat=shoes&pageview=all

Embracing the "canonical tag" is an elegant solution for avoiding duplicate content. Back in February of this year, Google, Yahoo, and Bing announced their support for this new tag, which was designed to eliminate duplicate URLs for a given website in search engine results. The tag marks a select URL as "canonical," which means that it is the predominant URL for a page, even if there are two or more similar URLs leading to that same page. Canonical, by definition, describes the master copy of something.

With the canonical tag, search engine marketers can more effectively control the URL returned in their search results. More importantly, the page will do better in search results because the master URL will consolidate all of the authority that was previously distributed and diluted between multiple URL versions of the same content.

2. Evaluate your paid search campaign structure against your own site architecture
Following your site's architecture when setting up your campaigns and ad groups can help reveal untapped opportunities for your paid search efforts. Do you have an ad group for each of your product categories and promotions? Walk through your site map and compare it against your PPC campaign to make sure you cover all the bases. Then refine these groups based on the highest margin categories or product groups, allowing for more flexibility of budgeting against these groups to maximize the most critical opportunities.

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