Testing Your Way into an SEO strategy

A lot is at stake when you dive into organic SEO.

For one thing, an SEO strategy is dynamic and constantly evolving.  Google, your customer and your competition are changing daily, so to stay in the race SEO demands a perpetual uphill battle (even for those holding #1 rankings).

Perhaps just as important, SEO tactics carry long-term consequences. When it comes to positioning your site’s organic SEO strategy around a certain set of keywords and phrases, each step of progress will impact your site months down the road.  If the impact is negative, immediate remedies will still take months to take effect, and even then you may have done some difficult to repair damage.

For several weeks I have been thinking to myself – “What can be done for the SEO marketer?  Is there a way to take low-risk non-committal steps towards changing and developing your SEO positioning?”  Then it dawned on me that maybe paid searches have redeeming value for all websites.

Why not use paid search campaigns to test similar keywords and phrases against each other and against existing site keywords/phrases to determine the relative and absolute winners (or losers)?  The winners then inform the organic SEO strategy – how the website content, link structure, meta data etc. evolve to support these new keywords/phrases.

AdWords are relatively “non-binding” in terms of how closely Google associates paid search words with your site.  Also, AdWords don’t cost as much and can provide very immediate and meausurable results.  This is a perfect sandbox for organic SEO marketers!

Then I came across Aaron Wall’s post on SEObook that basically made this exact suggestion and articulated how it is done.  I just wanted to share it in the event that some frustrated SEM marketers are looking for a more significant role in the organic side of SEO.

Perhaps I am alone in downplaying the universal value of SEM for all businesses.  But personally, I have seen really solid SEM campaigns fail for companies strictly because it doesn’t fit their industry and product. Also, the temporary “bump” in traffic hasn’t shown to significantly improve site ranking.   Using AdWords as a brand awareness tool just seems a little silly to me – like saying a telemarketer is positively contributing to “brand awareness” even if the individuals receiving the calls are angry or indifferent when they receive a call.

Using AdWords campaigns to test into an organic SEO strategy and continue to evolve it is something any company can benefit from trying.

For marketers of any sort, this is a good lesson in making both cautious AND aggressive steps in maintaining and developing market position.  It takes the weakness of paid searches and uses it as a strength to serve a weakness of organic SEO.


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