Often the sum of parts is greater than the individual elements. Bacon and eggs, Simon and Garfunkel, and Ant and Dec – arguably all examples of this… 

In business, digital transformation, globalisation, and mergers & acquisition have all often led to the trend of disparate organisations whose data exists in siloes and geographically dispersed departments that rarely converse with one another. 

Today, two sides of the same business coin are further away than ever before. Related tasks are increasingly being undertaken by different people, sometimes in different parts of the same building, sometimes across geographical borders. In large companies, the two processes could even be being managed by two entirely different external third-party agencies, based in different cities or even different countries.

All of this is understandable if a little frustrating. What is arguably worse, though, is when the problem is exacerbated by one department treating two core aspects of a single practice – such as paid and organic search – separately. More than I would care to mention have I seen them managed by totally separate teams, with different aims and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

On the same page

Search marketing is estimated to be one of the highest spend areas of marketing with over £26 billion being invested each year. Yet, it also has the reputation at the board level of being difficult to trace, evaluate and control. We all know this is unfair, but until as an industry we can convince them otherwise, the purse strings may well start to tighten.

Whilst they are often given different budgets and have different teams responsible for them, paid and organic search is very closely linked. They do, of course, even physically appear on the same page within a search engine. Yet, the share of the page a brand has is often overlooked by both organic and paid professionals, even though it has been proven that appearing on paid can have a halo effect, boosting organic click through and vice-versa.

Benefits of aligning search

The benefits of aligning your organic and paid search are endless, and there is lots of evidence that shows that the companies which put the most effort into unifying their processes see the best search engine marketing (SEM) results in the long run.

The first step is to promote open communication and begin to build a set of unified coordinated goals. By improving coordination teams can become more empowered to make smarter decisions and therefore more nimble and reactive to the day to day pressures of a competitive auction. In short whilst the individual outcomes paid and organic search specialists may be chasing can be specific; the overall targets, ultimately the aims of the business, should be one.

The shared impact

Research into the shared impact of organic and paid search we undertook showed that many brands have a lopsided approach to their SEM, with one of the sides becoming dominant, while the other languishes behind. This is where collaboration is key.

While it may seem straightforward that you perform well on your own brand terms, this isn’t necessarily a given, and in the cut-throat and competitive world of SEM, there’s no place for complacency. With paid search, you should be looking to cover your brand terms comprehensively. Although be careful to simply use broad brand brush strokes. Check your cost per click (CPC) regularly, as a higher rate could indicate that you’re battling against another brand in the blind auction process. Make sure your provider keeps you aware of anyone bidding on your terms.

Finding common ground

When the lines of communication have opened between paid and organic search, and the two are aligning correctly so that they have just one common objective between them, it’s time to start sharing wisdom. 

In the paid search market, with a constantly evolving list of competitors, the scope of the advertising copy being used and the blind auction system, marketers must act fast to stay ahead. Being able to react to changing market dynamics and seize the initiative when the iron is hot is key to achieving any success in the rapidly evolving customer-centric marketplace that we live. 

In contrast, organic search teams working with legacy sites, traditionally play the long game – carefully curating their content, monitoring links, tailoring their quality and adapting to the incremental updates of the major search engines. 

The need for collaboration

Both sides can learn a lot from the other. Paid search can learn the value of sustained campaigns and continuity, while organic search can pick up the art of adaptability. The two sides may be very different, but when they find their common ground, there are huge advantages to be found.

Collaboration is more important than ever before within a modern business. Once embraced, it can prove to be a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically cooperate to achieve shared or overlapping objectives.