Google ads are more than an advertising platform. It’s a treasure trove of data that SEOs can use to improve organic visibility for their site. And today, I’m going to show you a few of my favourite tried and tested ways to use google search ads to improve SEO on both Google and YouTube.Stay tuned. If you’re like most people and keep SEO and PPC campaigns separate, you’re making a mistake. You’re missing out on a ton of reliable data that can be used for SEO to gain the longterm benefits of free and passive search traffic from Google and YouTube.Now, over the past year, I’ve spent some time advertising on YouTube and a bit on Google and I’ve found some cool ways to use the data to improve SEO.
So let’s kick things off with the first use case, which is to find keywords that result in conversions. Not every keyword you bid on or rank for is going to result in customers. But Google Ads has a conversion tracking feature that lets you attribute an action on your website to a keyword. To set this up, just go to the Conversions settings in your Google ads account. Now, if I hover over “website,” you’ll see that you can track things like Online sales, link clicks, and sign-ups. So click the website icon, and then fill out the form to set up your conversion action. Now, after you’ve spent enough money to get some conversion data, go to the Search terms report. And this report shows you a list of queries where your ad was shown to a significant number of people.
You can see things like Impressions, interactions, the average cost per click, total conversions, and conversion rate, which is a percentage of the number of clicks to conversions. Now, I want to note that the reason why you’re seeing zero conversions is that we haven’t used the conversion tracking pixel for years. In fact, we even got rid of Google Analytics. But assuming you have the conversion tracking pixel on your site, you can simply sort the table by the Conversion or Conversion rate column, and see which keywords are converting visitors or viewers into sign-ups. So let’s draw out a hypothetical scenario.
Let’s say that the query, “website checker” had an average CPC of $2 and your breakeven cost was $40.That means you need to convert one visitor for every 20 clicks to break even. Now, if your cost per conversion was $50, then from an ads perspective, you’re losing$250 for every one thousand dollars spent. So let’s do a bit of reverse engineering. With this information, you know that ranking for the query, “website checker” will lead to conversions. You also know that you’ll need around 25 clicks to get one conversion. Now, let’s find out how much traffic you could get if you ranked in the
- #1 position for that keyword.
So I’ll take the top-ranking page’s URL and put it into Site Explorer. Then I’ll head over to the organic keywords report. And it looks like they get around 3,500 monthly search visits for the query “website checker” just from the US.So if 25 clicks result in a lead or customer, then you’d get around 140 of them each month, just when people search for “website checker” and click to your website. And if a conversion is worth $40, then that’s $5,600 in value each month from free organic traffic! So assuming I wanted to go after that query, I’d toss it into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Then, I’d scroll to the SERP overview, and assess what it would take to outrank the rest of the competition. And I talk about assessing ranking difficulty in our keyword research tutorial, so I’ll link that up in the description.
Find pages that can benefit from optimizations
Alright, the next use case is to find keyword opportunities as well as pages that can benefit from on-page optimizations. According to Google, 15% of queries they see every day have never been seen before. That means billions of queries are going unnoticed and if Google doesn’t even know them, then third-party keyword research tools probably won’t either. To set yourself up for success, you can try bidding on keywords using broad match modifiers. Broad match modifiers ensure your ads are only shown for searches that include words you’ve marked with a plus sign.
For example, if you were to bid on a keyword like “leather shoes” wrapped in quotes, you’re only bidding on queries that match that exact phrase. But if you bid on queries with broad match modifiers like +leather +shoes, then that would include queries like “leather work shoes.”By using broad match modifiers, you can usually broaden your keyword pool without having to know the exact phrasing searchers are using. So after you’ve run the ads for long enough, go to the Search terms report and we’re going to look for two things:
- #1. New topics that are worth pursuing.
- #2. Long-tail queries you may not have optimized for.
So, I’m in the Search terms report and I’ve set the filter for one of our YouTube ad campaigns. From here, you can set more filters like minimum clicks, impressions, CTR, or whatever. You can also sort by column heading or a combination of the two which can help you narrow in on specific subsets you might be looking for. Now, all you need to do is scroll through the report and look for queries that would make sense to target or look for queries where you already have existing content, that could be better optimized.
For example, “Yoast SEO tutorial” seems like a pretty popular topic that we haven’t covered as you can see from the number of impressions. And we actually have a full playlist on WordPress SEO so it might make a good fit for our channel. Scrolling down even further, you’ll see long-tail queries like “what is SEO and how does it work.”Well, we have a video on the main topic “What is SEO,” so I used this data to add the modifier” and how does it work” to our title tag as it fits naturally and that’s exactly what the video is about. Generally speaking, the more ads you run, the more data you’ll have, meaning the more opportunities you’ll be able to find.
Improve CTR on organic search results
The next use case is to improve click-through rates on your organic search results. It’s widely believed that a higher click-through rate can lead to improved rankings. But even if it doesn’t, more clicks equals more visitors. Now, since search ads allow you to manipulate the title and description, you can try different versions of ad copy to try and find a winning combination. So first, you need to find a page to optimize. To do this, go to the Search results report in Google Search Console and make sure that you have an average CTR and the average position selected. Next, set a filter to only show keywords in the top 5 or so positions. Finally, sort the table by CTR in ascending order. Now, what you’re looking for here are primary keyword targets that have a low CTR, but are ranking in a high position. You’ll also want to ignore branded queries that aren’t yours.
So for us, we might ignore keywords like “advanced google search” since people searching for that probably want to actually use Google’s advanced search feature. You might also want to ignore really broad queries like “HTTPS” as search intent could be mixed or not crystal clear. So for us, a query to run ads on might be “e-commerce SEO” since we have a dedicated page on the topic, we’re ranking in the top 3, but have a really low CTR of just 1.6%. Now, it’s important to note that our CTR may not actually be this low since Search Consoleincludes impressions made by bots (i.e. a rank tracker tool), but regardless, we could benefit from improving CTR for this query since the post incorporates our tools pretty heavily. Alright, so the next thing we need to do is create a list of keywords we can bid on for our ad.
So on a filterless version of the search results report, I’ll set a page filter and I’ll enter our e-commerce SEO URL slug here. And from here, you can filter through the queries to find relevant keywords that would be worth targeting. Now, since Search Console shows average positions and won’t show you every keyword you rank for, you can use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer completely free on websites you own. Just sign up for an AWT account and verify your website. After you’re set-up, go to Site Explorer and enter the URL you want to analyze. Next, head on over to the Organic Keywords report. And here, you can see the keywords the page ranks for, the position we saw it in on this date, and also use these filters to quickly get the data you need. From here, you can start your campaign with various ad copy combinations, run the ads for a period of time, and see which one performs the best. And after you’ve found a winner, just change your title tag and meta description to get more clicks to your page.
The next thing you can do is to get backlinks by advertising for queries with “link intent.”Some people will naturally earn links consistently simply because they rank at the top of Google. And that’s one of the huge benefits to Google search ads. You can pay to have your page appear at the top of Google’s search results. But you can’t just advertise for any keyword and expect it to lead to backlinks. Otherwise, you’d burn through your budget with little to show. So the goal is to earn backlinks at a reasonable cost, whatever that might be to you. And the best way to do that is to bid on queries that have so-called “link intent”, meaning, the people searching for the query are actually looking for resources to link to. And who are these people?
Bloggers and journalists. Now, finding these queries can be tough and you really won’t know the outcome until you’ve actually paid for the ads and waited for a reasonable period of time. And there are other factors that come into play like the quality of your content. Meaning… if your content is poor, then ads aren’t a magical formula to attract links. But one type of content that we’ve tested with great results are statistics pages.
For example, we spent around $1,200 on Google ads promoting this page on SEO statistics. The ads actually resulted in a good number of high-quality backlinks and it helped us rank in position 1 and 2 for our target queries. To find topics worth targeting, you can use a tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and search for topics related to your industry. So in our case, that would be SEO, content marketing, and blogging. Next, go to the Phrase Match Report. Finally, hit the Include button and search for the word statistics. And now you’ll see the keyword metrics for each of these queries. Now, this only tells us about the number of monthly searches you can expect from a specific country. But it doesn’t affirm the fact that you can get links from it. So the next thing you’ll want to do is to hit the SERP button to see the metrics on the top 10 ranking pages.
And all you’re really looking for is to see if the top pages have a lot of referring domains pointing at them. And in the case for content marketing statistics, they do. But this still doesn’t tell us whether these pages are earnings links on a consistent basis. So to dig deeper, just click on the caret beside one of the top-ranking URLs and go to the Overview page. And as you can see from this graph, they’ve had a steady growth in new referring domains since December 2018. And if we look at Optinmonster’s ranking history for that keyword, you’ll see that December 2018is also around the time when they started ranking at the top of Google. If this strategy interests you,
then I highly recommend watching our full case study on how we built links to our statistics page with Google ads, which I’ll link up in the description. Now, these are just a few tactics that I’ve found to be the most actionable so feel free to try them out and if you enjoyed this tutorial, then make sure to like share and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing