Anyone practising SEO these days will know that there is a growing shortage of valuable data. As Google applies more privacy measures on how it shares data it collects from its users and limits the depth of its data in other tools, the oasis of demographic and search behaviour data has dried up considerably.

Google Ads has long been a handy free tool for SEO practitioners. As it provides data on search volumes and browsing behaviour, as applied to PPC campaigns on their network, it can be a valuable source of data.

But to what extent can you use data from paid search and apply it to organic optimisation? Obviously they don’t translate in every way. Below we explore how some of your campaign data on Google Ads can be reliably applied to your SEO efforts.

Segments

This option allows you to divide the data based on how closely the searches matched the keyword: broad, phrase or exact. If the terms are often phrase matched, this tells you the keywords you’re optimising around are actually part of other long-tail keywords used to get click throughs for your site. This can change your content strategy.

You can also segment based on the device used. If it’s mainly mobile, your landing pages may be more effective for that market and platform.

Filters

Filters are effective in sorting through a lot of seemingly popular keywords on your campaign and getting a brief overview of their actual success. Some filtering criteria that can indicate keyword importance include:

• Clickthrough rates – comparing data based on the ad copy and the keywords can give you an idea of whether or not your keywords are making your site show up in the right context.
• Conversions – There are numerous metrics relating to conversions. The value and cost of each conversion on a keyword is very important. You want to target ones which generate the most revenue. The number of conversion occurring for each click is also useful as it tell you how comprehensive your landing pages are.
• Average CPC – Ones with high values but low clicks are probably driving high value business for each click. Optimising around them could drive a similar profit.

Impressions

If your keywords are creating a high number of impressions (when people see your advert) but a low number of clicks, it might mean your advert is coming up for the wrong kind of search intent. Ad copy may also be a problem but it’s unlikely if the ratio is heavily off.

Placements

This is where your display adverts appear. If you select automatic placement Google will place these on their Display Network based on the keywords you supplied them with. The Placement Tool can also be used to return sites which thematically match your input. This can help inform the direction of your link-building strategy.

Interests & Remarketing

This section can give you valuable data on a number of incredibly specific variables such as non-converted trial users or users who abandon their shopping carts. It also offers data on user interests, based on their browsing behaviour.

This data can’t be used directly, but can be combined with marketing functions and business intelligence to create content that’s more targeted towards your market’s interests.

Keyword Tool

Probably the internet’s most popular tool for keyword research, most SEOs know it well. It can tell you how often a keyword is used in queries, both internationally and locally. You can get keyword data for the whole web, or for your site specifically.

Opportunities Tab

The information on this tab can be somewhat interpretive but, if used effectively, can really bolster your SEO efforts. ‘Analyse competition’ is useful as it takes your selected keywords and breaks down their relative chance of success, as compared to competitors in your range.

It can give you good indication of whether your keyword choices are part of the best practices or need to be abandoned.

In Conclusion

All of the above should be used cautiously. Try to remember that you’re using user activity on Google’s commercial advertising network to infer knowledge about organic search behaviour so the data relevance does get a bit distorted. Logic and sound business judgement are the only things that can really guide you.