Retargeting and SEO Working Together

Regardless of the size or type of your business, search engines are a crucial source of traffic. So, a solid search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is a vital element of digital marketing.

Studies show that 44% of buyers begin their shopping process with an online search. Even if you are a brick-and-mortar shop, organic search traffic is fundamental. Half of mobile searchers actually visit a store within one day of their search.

However, just because a searcher lands on your site doesn’t mean they are going to make a purchase. In fact, up to 96% of organic search traffic won’t convert during their first visit to your site. This is to be expected, as most searches are categorized as informational in nature.

There is a way you can recapture those visitors after they’ve left your site, though. It’s called retargeting.

Recycling and Recapturing Your SEO Traffic

Site retargeting is the act of pinpointing users who have visited your website previously and targeting them with advertisements around the web. Banner ads are the most common way to do this, but you can also retarget users with text ads in Google’s Search Network.

Retargeting is different from traditional display advertising because you are specifically targeting users who have visited your site or a certain page on your site. It’s done by implementing a retargeting pixel in the footer of your site that cookies your site’s visitors.

Then, when your retargeting provider encounters those visitors elsewhere on the internet, it knows to serve up your ads (as long as you have bid high enough for your ad impressions).

With retargeting, you are given another chance to find and convert those potential customers that have possibly moved further down the sales funnel. Your ads could push them to make a purchase, even when they are on other websites.


What’s more, it’s possible to place a pixel on individual pages, so you can run targeted campaigns for specific products.

The use of retargeting combines the two most effective online marketing channels. In general, SEO traffic has around a 2% conversion rate. Advertisers consider this to be the most effective channel for conversions. So, if you are merging this traffic with display retargeting, you will see your conversion rate double.

Is Search Retargeting Considered SEO?

If you are a brand new site or smaller site without much traffic to begin with, you might be wondering how you are going to retarget visitors that aren’t there.

Luckily, there are ways you can advertise to people who are using your target keywords, even if they’ve never even been to your site. This is called search retargeting.

Think of search retargeting as organic search marketing with a sprinkling of display advertisement. It works by capturing the referrer data sent by the user’s landing page. Once the ad network sees a user that has your target search term in the referral data, it will display your ad on that page.

Bear in mind, keyword-level targeting is not the same as keyword-only segments. Keyword-level targeting is singling out people who have performed a search online for that keyword, while keyword-only segments are built by collecting past search behavior.

Search retargeting is an advantageous strategy of combining the reach of display marketing with the rigor of SEO. Since you are using SEO data for this form of marketing, you need to begin with keyword research.

After you’ve decided on your list of keywords, optimisation  becomes much easier. Landing page optimisation  changes from SEO to conversion rate optimisation based on your campaign goal.

It’s best practice to segment your keywords and landing page by search intent:

  • Informational: Keywords that are informational in nature happen in the beginning of the conversion process. People using informational keywords are not likely to convert on their first time to your site. For a branding campaign, you definitely want to include informational keywords. If your goal is conversions, it’s still smart to include them – they make up the majority of searches. Informational keywords usually start with terms like “why does,” “how to” or “where to find.” Informational users could be converted later with site retargeting, so don’t miss out on them!
  • Research: If a user is performing a research-based query, that user is likely further down the sales funnel than an informational searcher. The researcher already knows that he or she wants to buy a product, but they haven’t settled on one. They are seeking more information about the product to make a final decision. Research queries usually have words like “top 10,” “comparison” or “reviews of ___.”
  • In-market: These searchers are a business’s best friend. They have reached the point of conversion and want their search results to take them right to the product they are ready to buy. Words like “deal,” “discount” and “free shipping” typically signal an in-market search. The high conversion rate of these searchers compensate for the lower search volume.

Search retargeting will help you reach users who are intent on keywords you haven’t ranked highly for. You can also use it to capture some of your competitor’s traffic. If you check your competition’s pages, you can identify their keywords easily. Just take a look at the words and phrases they use in title tags, H1 tags, URLs and article titles. You can then add keywords to your site and track them against your competition with a keyword tool.


Don’t worry too much about the fact that Google doesn’t pass search query data anymore. People perform a lot of searches in vertical search engines that can capture that data and pass it to advertisers. Search engines like:

  • Ecommerce sites
  • Travel and tourism websites
  • Deal and coupon sites
  • Social media and forum websites

How To Combine Organic Search and Retargeting

Now that we know how to refine our SEO efforts to increase conversion rate and augment your retargeting campaigns, let’s look at it from a different angle. How can running retargeting campaigns work to boost your organic traffic?

Retargeting campaigns, whether they be site or search, can indirectly raise your organic search engine traffic. One advantage is they overcome ad blindness.

It’s been determined that three out of four consumers recognize when they are shown retargeted ads. This helps to reinforce your brand recognition and thus increase your conversions.

A comScore study found that site retargeting increased branded search activity by more than 1,000%. It also found that retargeted campaigns drive 726% more return visitors after seeing the banner ad.

Sites that run retargeting campaigns benefit from increased time on site and a lower bounce rate. This really helps your organic search marketing efforts and keeps your brand in front of users.


Search Engine optimisation is only one piece of the marketing puzzle, and should be supplemented with other marketing channels that could boost your conversions. The use of retargeting campaigns to recapture those undecided visitors will help move them through the conversion funnel and reinforce your branding and your SEO efforts.


Marketing manager @myposeo, community manager and writer.

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