How to Marry SEO & Paid Search for Maximum ROI

by Mar 27, 2018

Even the savviest of marketing teams can be guilty of treating SEO and Paid Search as separate assets.

In truth, failure to unite the two tactics results in missed oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve both effi­ciency and results. Ideally, marketers should have a holis­tic approach to Search in order to strate­gi­cally balance each traffic channel’s strengths to address gaps in knowl­edge and maxi­mize ROI.


SEO & SEM Work Together to Increase Overall Search Traffic

One concern many marketers express is that their SEM and SEO efforts will “canni­bal­ize” the same traffic rather than increase overall inbound Search traffic. To a certain point, their concerns are valid.

A 2014 study by Philip Petrescu noted that Paid ads nega­tively impacted how many searchers clicked on Organic results. The amount to which Paid detracts from Organic CTR has only increased with time, thanks to the visu­ally-enhanced ads and increased usage of mobile devices.

However, if Paid ads will decrease Organic clicks regard­less, it’s impor­tant that your brand be there to capture the lost visits and take the place of a competi­tor. What’s more, Moz recently noted that the CTR for a brand’s Paid ads and Organic list­ings increased when the same company occu­pied both spaces due to large amount of visual “real estate” consumed.

There­fore, it is crucial that your brand control both the top Paid listing and the top Organic posi­tion rather than solely relying upon one or the other. Keeping in mind that roughly 30% of searchers don’t scroll below-the-fold of search results, domi­nat­ing the top “real estate” on the page can lead to your brand control­ling the overall user expe­ri­ence. As every digital marketer knows, visi­bil­ity is key!

How Paid Search Can Assist SEO?

Provide Quick Solu­tions to Organic Gaps in Visi­bil­ity

One advan­tage of SEM is the ability to achieve almost-instan­ta­neous results. Alter­na­tively, the fruits of SEO’s labors may take months to mature. There­fore, Paid Search is a viable solu­tion to gain first-page visi­bil­ity within search results for terms currently inac­ces­si­ble with Organic results.

Houzz does not rank on the first page of results for this compet­i­tive search term. There­fore, Paid Search is the website’s only short-term solu­tion for gaining visi­bil­ity within search results.

This is partic­u­larly bene­fi­cial for new web prop­er­ties that have yet to accu­mu­late Organic matu­rity or a strong back­link profile in order to reach full SEO poten­tial. An aggres­sive Paid strat­egy can raise overall aware­ness for the new website and bring in visi­tors and, as the Organic strength of the site grad­u­ally gains momen­tum, Paid spend­ing can be scaled back if desired.

The obvious benefit to using Paid to fill Organic gaps in visi­bil­ity is the increase in visits. However, Organic can also improve due to the follow­ing:

  • Increased brand recog­ni­tion, leading to improved Organic CTR. Searchers innately are more likely to “click” on a search listing with which they are famil­iar. Paid Search list­ings can increase famil­iar­ity for a new site. Consid­er­ing that search engines closely observe Organic CTR and adjust rank­ings accord­ingly, brand recog­ni­tion can indi­rectly help rank­ings.
  • Natural accu­mu­la­tion of back­links to prop­erty or new content piece. Indi­vid­u­als do not discuss or link to content of which they’re not aware. By lever­ag­ing Paid to increase the number of visi­tors to a new website or page, the elevated aware­ness of the offer­ing can expe­dite the natural enlarge­ment of the back­link profile.

SEM Insights can be utilized to provide SEO with insights into keyword CTR, conver­sions, etc

It takes time for a page to build the Organic cred­i­bil­ity to rank highly within search results. There­fore, Paid Search is an asset SEO can use to quickly test and measure the success of a keyword set or message before invest­ing resources to gener­ate content.

You can quickly set up a campaign with your targeted terms and allo­cated testing budget to then view CTR metrics, engage­ment and conver­sions. From there, commu­ni­cate with SEO on the messag­ing that is believed to resonate the end-user (ad copy) and conver­sion metrics. It’s impor­tant to track the quality of conver­sions from AdWords, as engage­ment that does not improve leads or sales should be greatly discounted.

This test could be useful if you think a keyword is impor­tant for your busi­ness but, in reality, it might be rele­vant to your target audi­ence. After all, you wouldn’t want to invest time in content build­ing and organic opti­miza­tion around those terms, would you?

How SEO Can Assist Paid Search?

Ensur­ing Optimal Crawla­bil­ity and Tagging for Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads and “Shop­ping” Ads (other­wise known as Product Listing Ads) are a key compo­nent in many Paid Search strate­gies, espe­cially those serving sites with large product inven­to­ries. Unlike tradi­tional Paid ads which are manu­ally uploaded to Adwords, DSAs and “Shop­ping” gener­ate ads utiliz­ing page copy to under­stand a page’s rele­vance to Google queries, as well as what ad text and photos to display within search results. In turn, DSAs and “Shop­ping” ads are an effi­cient use of strate­gists’ resources and provides “cover­age” to extremely long-tail queries.

These dynam­i­cally gener­ated ads only work if Google bots can correctly crawl and inter­pret a website. There­fore, SEM should coor­di­nate with tech­ni­cal SEO profes­sion­als to ensure that the robots.txt or on-page tagging does not block any impor­tant parts of the site; orphan pages are kept to a minimum; and tagging like title tags prop­erly repre­sent the contents of the page.

When a client’s devel­op­ers acci­den­tally modi­fied the robots.txt to block Google, PLAs were no longer possi­ble. SEO iden­ti­fied the issue and worked with devel­op­ers to update the robots.txt accord­ingly.

Improve­ment of Quality Scores Through Strate­gic Opti­miza­tions

A “quality score” refers to Google’s rating of a page’s expe­ri­ence and rele­vance for a specific search phrase. In turn, it directly impacts the cost-per-click of an ad for a partic­u­lar term. The better the quality score, the less Paid Search has to bid to achieve an ideal ranking. Google deter­mines the quality score through factors like click-through-rate and the ad copy. However, the page itself plays a signif­i­cant role as well.

SEO can lever­age its exist­ing involve­ment in site updates and content refreshes to make opti­miza­tions that assist both Organic rank­ings and Paid Search quality scores. There­fore, teams should ideally share keyword research with one another to mutu­ally agree upon strate­gies and targeted terms.

What Does All This Mean for You?

To summa­rize, it’s crucial that all Paid Search and SEO teams have full trans­parency into each other’s target keywords, ad groups, and overall strate­gies. By grant­ing digital marketers a holis­tic view of Search land­scape, they are empow­ered to make deci­sions and gain fuller under­stand­ing of how the traffic chan­nels should ideally inter­act with one another.