With the golden quarter just past, search marketers have been busy number crunching, promotion scheduling and, of course, optimising to ensure brands had the best possible Christmas.

According to research from IAB, search marketing accounts for half of the £6.36 billion UK digital ad industry and is growing 15% a year. Worldwide, the SEO industry is approaching £63 billion, with no signs of slowing down. As rapid growth creates more competition for the coveted top spot amongst search results, performance marketers need to pull out all the stops to secure first place.

Using paid activity to complement your organic SEO is an efficient way of boosting results. It’s essential for marketers to stay on top of the best converting search terms so your keyword targeting is spot on. Fortunately, there are a number of methods you can use to help you find the most effective keywords.

Long tail search terms are key

Long tail search terms can be a useful tool for optimising your SEO. These longer phrases, such as ‘best budget women’s running shoes’ instead of just ‘best running shoes’, are perfect for targeting niche demographics. As most search marketers know, more specific terms allow you to rank highly in results for popular topics and attract traffic that’s more likely to convert to leads and customers.

By looking at the long tail terms from recent Google Ads Shopping campaigns, you can analyse them to gain valuable insight into what keywords convert. Longer terms give you more insight into what users are searching for, which can help support growth. Admittedly there will be more variation but while they have less search volume they are further down the user journey, so will provide higher conversion rates for your campaign.

Let your ads pay for themselves

Another trick is to use your best performing ad copy to help tailor metadata in SERPs (search engine results page). Incorporating content from the ad copy again gives you insight into what your users respond well to, which will provide you with more traffic from your existing rankings. Look at which search ads are getting the highest conversion and click-through rate and include their content in your metadata for SEO content, such as the title, description, and keywords.

If done correctly, then your SEO should start to match the conversion and click-through rates of those best-performing ads. From a brand perspective, it also allows you to provide consistent messaging on search pages to your target audience.

Mind the gap (analysis)

Using your paid search to find out the best keywords is important but is just the beginning. It’s critical to know where you need to target with your resources so don’t forget about Gap Analysis. You can use your organic and paid reports to see where your ads are appearing and see the organic listings for each term you are bidding on. This shows you where terms are appearing in paid search but not organically and vice versa.

The report gives you some insight into what percentage of traffic you are getting and how much you should expect certain terms. This allows you to analyse data and allocate resources to the areas that will enhance your organic campaign and add more value in the process. For example, if one keyword you are bidding on has a high organic listing then not only can you use that search term for your SEO but you can also save on price as it does not need the boost that comes with a paid ad. Alternatively, if a term performs poorly organically, then it’s probably not best to use it with your SEO content, and could be worth giving it a helping hand with paid search activity.

By following these three steps, you can make your paid search activity work harder and deliver better results and value for money for your search marketing efforts.