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Airtable Teardown: How They Combine PPC & SEO

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At a first glance, it may seem like paid search and SEO don’t have much in common. In reality, though, both teams focus on developing keyword strategies, content, and tactics to attract more visitors and boost sales.

Breaking down the silos of PPC and SEO – and allowing both teams to work together – can maximize your strategic goals and take your campaigns to new heights. Let’s look at a SaaS example from one of the leaders in the project management category.

Meet Airtable

Airtable is a low-code platform for building collaborative applications. It combines the best aspects of databases and spreadsheets, allowing users to interact with their data and, simultaneously, enabling programmatic management of the data.

Airtable can be used to store information in easy-to-use spreadsheets, but it can also serve as a database that businesses can use for project planning, task management, and even customer relationship management (CRM).

At a Glance: Airtable’s Homepage

Effectively, the homepage should tell visitors what the business has to offer within seconds. Because many types of users might visit the website, SaaS marketers often feel hard-pressed to find a few words that strike a chord with the visitors who are most likely to be interested in the product.

Airtable’s homepage is a good example of keeping it clear and appealing. By using a simple animated text in the headline, the company is trying to quickly position itself as a ‘platform’, ‘source of truth’, and ‘workspace’, essentially engaging a wider range of audiences.

This is further emulated in their solutions dropdown menu. Here, they’ve done a great job of persona identification and segmentation. Even more, by offering a number of different templates, the company is also nudging visitors to immerse themselves into the product right away.

Plan-Based Pricing Pages

Airtable has four plan types: Free, Plus, Pro, and Enterprise. The freemium model allows users to sign up for free and use the platform until they are ready to gain access to all the perks that come with the next pricing tiers.

Based upon first impressions, the company has done a good job here. The prices appear to be based on standard SaaS pricing page strategies and are fairly competitive for the business’ category.

All things considered, it might be worth noting that while Airtable refrains from officially labeling itself as a project management tool, it is listed as one on G2.

Although project management is one of the most competitive categories in SaaS, Airtable has an excellent G2 profile with a lot of great reviews and is positioned right next to category leaders such as Asana, Trello, ClickUp, and Wrike.

Airtable’s PPC basis: User-Centric Keywords

There’s no doubt that PPC is a good way to attract new customers and boost brand awareness. Cutting out noise and building a paid search strategy that drives business, however, can be tricky.

According to the data available on Semrush, Airtable has a history of some very high ad spend about a year ago, with over 1.6 million in ad spend for that month alone. This was followed by a dramatic decrease that kept dropping.

Looking at the chart below, we can see that the company’s ad spend is currently at a pretty low level.

Targeting Searchers Intent

Instead of targeting more generic keywords that might be vague in intent (and highly competitive), Airtable is going after user-centric keywords that reflect on common tasks that can be accomplished with their software. Some big keywords here include ‘create a survey’, ‘org chart template’, and ‘content calendar’.

Basing ads around a central intent or desire is an excellent strategy that can make it easier to speak directly to the searcher’s query and entice a click.

By bidding on these keywords, Airtable is further positioning itself as a low-code or no-code solution for building apps and accomplishing different tasks.

What’s even more, their PPC strategy is strongly reflected on their homepage, as well.

As you scroll down the page, notice how the company has presented a number of animated visuals that show the product in action and directly speak to the intent behind many of the targeted keywords:

How Toxic Backlinks Can Affect Your Organic Performance

Organic search strategies are an investment that takes time to start showing results. Once you get the wheel turning, however, your SaaS SEO strategy can be a sustainable way for reaching new audiences from all stages of the buyer’s journey.

Backlinks are an important component of any successful SEO strategy. Acquiring links from various sources can improve the relevancy of your site, as well as its reputation with search engines.

Having said that, not every backlink is equal. Some can cause a surge of traffic in your direction, while others can reflect negatively on your site.

To get a better idea of Airtable’s SEO activities, let’s take a look at their backlinks.

Heading over to Ahrefs, you can see that there has been a rather steep increase in the last couple of years in terms of referring links and domains linking to Airtable – over 67 thousand referring domains.

Naturally, a high number of referring domains suggests a high number of organic search traffic, as well. In the case of Airtable, however, the organic search has been drifting down. Take a look at the company’s organic traffic trend:

So why is Airtable losing organic traffic at the same time that they’re having a huge acceleration in link acquisition?

How to Recognize Bad Links

To recognize harmful links, the first thing you need to do is check your backlinks. Factors that play a key role here include the strength of a website’s backlink profile (i.e. domain rating) and a backlink’s anchor text.

According to Ahrefs, Airtable has 153K groups of links. Narrowing it down by domain rating (anything from 0 to 10DR), you can see that 66K – or about 40% – of these link groups are of very poor quality.

Ultimately, to be successful, backlinks need to be organic. In the case of Airtable, low quality and spammy links are likely one of the main reasons why the company is seeing a decline in organic search traffic.

After all, if a lot of backlinks come from places irrelevant to your brand, search engines start thinking that unrelated keywords are relevant to your site. In turn, your business might start dropping in results for keywords that actually matter.

How to Combine Paid Search and SEO for Better Results

In situations where you are experiencing a noticeable decrease in organic traffic, your first step should be to conduct a thorough SEO audit.

A solid SEO audit can further help you pinpoint low-quality backlinks, do link cleanup, and disavow bad links.

In addition, consider combining your SEO and paid search efforts. Although SEO and PPC might be two separate marketing channels, that doesn’t mean you have to choose between the two.

In fact, a holistic approach to search can help your business navigate the increasingly complex digital landscape, as well as gain valuable insights and results that neither team could get on its own.

Best practices to consider when combining SEO and paid search to improve organic traffic include:

  • Sharing keyword data to determine the terms with the highest conversion rate and fine-tune your overall strategy
  • Testing organic keywords with PPC to get immediate feedback on how effective these terms are and refine your SEO strategy
  • Leveraging your best performing PPC ad copy to enhance title tags, meta descriptions, and page content for the pages you want to rank organically and encourage link building

Taking a Strategic Approach to PPC and SEO

All things considered, Airtable is a great company that is doing an amazing job of cutting against the grain within project management by going after the particular tasks of marketing and HR managers.

Feeling inspired? Learn more about the costs associated with SEO and PPC to create a strategic, well-balanced marketing strategy.