In both agency and corporate settings there is often a struggle between organic search and paid search teams for budget and resources. This power struggle can lead to the two departments competing against each other instead of working in harmony to achieve a common goal. the natural synergies between paid and organic search open up a great deal of opportunity that can be best leveraged by looking at the search channel as a whole instead of paid and organic as separate channels.
Getting those synergies in sync and, therefore, reaping the full benefits of a combined paid and organic search strategy, is one of the greatest challenges of modern digital marketing. It takes a lot of time, planning and patience to get the strategy right. Here’s how your marketing team can achieve optimal paid-organic search marketing cohesion:
Advantages of a cohesive strategy
There are many ways a paid search campaign can complement an organic search campaign and vice versa, if the right strategy is in place. Too often, there is not enough collaboration between teams in developing their strategies and the result is a great deal of lost opportunity.
Real estate and click share
If a particular company shows up in both an organic and paid search result for a specific search query that business will obviously own more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP). The more real estate one company has within that SERP, the less real estate is available to competitors.
There is an added value in showing on a SERP with both a paid and organic listing. Data has shown that having this added presence not only increases the overall click-through rate, but also increases the click-through rate of each listing (the paid and the organic listing) compared to that listing being alone on the SERP.
Marketers may think that just because their site ranks organically for a particular keyword that there is no need to bid on that keyword in paid search. However, by having that paid listing show up in addition to the organic listing, more organic traffic will actually be generated (in addition to any paid traffic).
Owning several pieces of real estate on search engine results pages has the additional advantage of increasing brand value and trust. The more a brand is displayed digitally, the more consumers will have exposure to that brand and begin to recognise it. Additionally, having a larger presence will build more trust around the brand because consumers will recognise this strong presence. This is partially responsible for the increased click-through rates described above.
Picking up the slack
As a marketer you are often faced with the challenge of having too little budget to fund too many paid and organic search efforts. Focusing on only one or the other may not be enough to hit the goals. This is where a strategic blend of paid and organic search efforts can be of great reward.
Reaching business goals may require generating search traffic from different levels within the buying cycle. This requires visibility for both short, and long-tail keywords.
It will typically take several months for a new SEO campaign to perform for highly competitive short-tail keyword phrases, while the site can begin to rank fairly quickly for more specific long-tail phrases. Therefore, paid search can be used to gain visibility for the short-tail phrases while the SEO team works to get them ranked organically.
Meanwhile, organic traffic is being driven from long-tail keywords without having to pay for clicks. Once the site starts to rank for the short-tail phrases, budget can be pulled from the paid search campaign and the new organic traffic will help to bring down the blended cost-per-acquisition.
Building Efficiencies through cross-channel learning
Most digital marketers, regardless of channel, depend on historical data to analyse and improve the performance of their campaigns. Because paid and organic search are so similar in many ways, there is a great deal of data that can be shared cross-channel to better equip both teams in building efficiency and performance.
Due to the nature of search, there is more that can be gained from a paid search campaign to benefit organic search than the other way around, but there are still ways organic search can benefit paid.
Because a new paid search campaign can collect much more data in a much smaller amount of time than a new SEO campaign, if can be beneficial to invest in a small test PPC campaign before launching SEO efforts. By bidding on relevant keywords and tracking conversions, a search query report can provide some great insight on conversion rates at a keyword level.
Even in cases of sites that already rank organically for a good number of non-branded keywords, it is difficult to determine the conversion value of each keyword due to Google keyword encryption.
Cross-referencing keyword-level conversion rates from paid search with search volume and competitive metrics from various keyword research tools allows digital marketers to build a very refined list of keywords to target through SEO efforts.
Meta data optimisation
Paid search data can also be very useful in optimising meta data to enhance click-through rates of organic search listings. Mature paid search campaigns have gone through a great deal of ad copy testing to understand what messaging entices the highest percentage of clicks for a keyword or set of keywords. Referencing the top-performing headlines of paid search ads when writing title tags of organic landing pages can strongly impact click-through rates of organic listings. Similarly, the top performing ad copy from paid search can be leveraged to write compelling meta description tags.
In addition to keywords and ad copy, landing page creative can be much more easily tested in paid search before investing heavily in SEO. Again, because paid search can compile data much faster than organic, testing different layouts and creative on landing page variations can identify opportunities to improve conversion rates. The best performing layouts can then be transitioned to landing pages for organic search.
The main takeaway is that paid search and organic search teams battling each other for budget does not benefit either. Rather, coming together to form a cohesive strategy will generate the highest level of return and there will ultimately be more funds available to support both teams. Open the lines of communication and start working together more closely today.