Search Marketing: SEO and SEM Integration
Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing should not exist autonomously but should be combined to increase efficiency and improve results. The most successful search campaigns are cross-collaborative and integrate organic and paid search. Both SEO and SEM essentially have the same goal of driving traffic to your site. Linking them together not only makes sense, but it also allows you to achieve better reach and visibility in the digital space.
Understanding Your Audience
Whether search is organic or paid, the target audience research phase is nearly identical for organic and paid search. Developing an effective strategy requires the complete removal of the ego to understand what people are searching for. Landing pages should provide near-exact answers to the queries users enter in their search engines. Therefore, organic and paid search both require a ton of intuition and empathy, coupled with some tools like Moz Pro, SEMrush and Ahrefs, which we at Doe-Anderson all use in-house. It is important to thoroughly explore customers’ mind-sets to determine what answers they are seeking and what queries they search to find those answers. What keywords should be considered? How many people are searching those keywords and how often? Does your content align with your customers’ needs? Search marketing can help us determine what your customers are seeking so you can supply those answers via your content strategy.
SEO and SEM Integration and How It Can Be Applied
After determining the audience’s search behaviors, an integrated SEO/SEM strategy can be developed to best match those behaviors with the products and services you want to advertise. Understanding the unique strengths that separate SEO and SEM from one another gives us the ability to develop a comprehensive strategy. A well-planned effort allows the two traffic channels to complement one another with a search presence that is robust yet tactical. Some questions we ask are:
- Does an SEO presence already exist, and which keywords are ranking?
- Do we want to quickly push to top rankings using SEM?
- Does the website include pages that will provide answers and work effectively as landing pages for both SEO and SEM?
- Do we want to use organic search to monitor specific keywords in our SEM plan to determine if there are times we want to pause these keywords in paid search?
- When we type in targeted search queries, do the search results provide all the content and messaging we want our audience to see?
The SEO and SEM breakdowns in the next two sections provide insight into how we can develop an action plan based on our answers to these questions.
There may be a combination of different factors that explain why a page ranks page one on Google. Our goal is not only to get to page one, but it is also to occupy space at the top of the fold for as long as possible. With over 200+ factors that influence search position, it is more important than ever to make sure your website can be found by search engines. A fully optimized page has content that reflects users’ demands, includes clean code, loads quickly, has smooth transitions and is easy to navigate.
SEO is based on supply and demand; learning and then building what people want is what gets Google and other search engines to pay attention and view your site as useful, trustworthy, and legitimate (an important ranking factor). Getting the search engine to pay attention requires your site to be special. Search engines like Google are in the business of supplying users with relevant content that answers their questions as quickly as possible. Our goal with SEO is to set up the content strategy, clean up any obstructions along the way and clear up pathways so search engines can easily locate and interpret content for your audience.
It is important to understand that SEO is a long game. You build a strong foundation by building a fully optimized website. Once the structure is set, it is time to observe and track how users are organically engaging with your content. These early insights can help you understand whether or not users can find your content and how they are responding to it. What are they finding useful and interesting? What areas are they not accessing and why? SEM can help fill the gaps.
Paid search can deliver ads on page one of Google and other search platforms the same day the campaign is launched. This aspect makes it an excellent resource to provide insight into organic search strategy. It can be used to verify the frequency in which planned keywords are searched as queries as well as how effectively those search queries produce results. Landing page layouts and conversion tracking can also be tested and verified through SEM. Within paid search accounts, the specific search queries that are used are tracked within the account and can provide valuable insight into organic keyword strategies. All these aspects can be explored through paid search before months of organic strategy implementation, allowing for early adjustments in the strategy when necessary.
Not only can paid search be used to place for keywords without already established organic rankings, but it can vary messaging and provide more page real estate. Once organic rankings are established, it is not always advisable to change the page content or messaging. Doing so often triggers a loss of rank on the search engine. However, with paid search you can vary messaging and still maintain page-one position. This is especially useful during promotions or new product launches.
Explore a Custom Integrated SEO and SEM Strategy
If you are currently partaking in either SEO or SEM, but not both, take a glimpse at the other side and consider whether you are missing additional opportunities. SEO and SEM are next-door-neighbors, so remember to peak over the fence or, better yet, knock it down altogether. The most successful search marketing campaigns use both methods with a tactful approach, allowing leverage of the strong points from both paid and organic search. With specialists and analytics teams representing both at Doe-Anderson, we can drive a very agile integrated search strategy. If you are interested in exploring a custom strategy for your company’s products, services and goals, we would love to hear from you!
This post was co-authored by Nada Zakaria and Todd Millett.
The Doe Anderson search team drives comprehensive search strategies using best practices for both paid and organic search. Through optimizing content and connecting consumers to solutions, they excel in accomplishing client goals.