The Symbiotic Relationship Between SEO and PPC

Somebody please help me. For the life of me I can't understand why so many search marketers are missing the boat on what seems to be a no-brainer. For some reason, a lot of companies are managing their pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization campaigns separately--using different vendors or agencies, with different goals, with little or no communication between the two, and absolutely no integration.

But why? Given the power that can be generated by the effective integration of paid and natural search, I just don't get it.

In today's SEM services marketplace, the vast majority of agencies/vendors offer both natural search engine optimization, as well as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising management (those that don't do both typically offer just paid search management). Often, search marketers hire a firm that offers both services, but only utilize the firm for one. Further still, some companies even contract with one company for SEO, another for PPC advertising, and still another for paid inclusion. Talk about a three-headed monster!



Now, I don't totally have my head buried in the sand here. I realize that these marketers often think they are opting for best of breed solutions by entrusting their campaigns to firms that have made their reputations in one particular area. So initially, this strategy may appear wise. But the problem with this approach is that it fails to effectively capitalize on the inherent synergies of the campaigns, thus failing to fully realize the upside of integration.

Integrating paid and natural campaigns leverages the knowledge gained from one campaign to enhance the success of the other campaign. Integrated correctly, the two channels form a truly symbiotic relationship--one in which each feeds the other, as well as feeding off the other--to produce results that are greater than the sum of the two parts.

For example, integrating the two campaigns will aid keyword selection and refinement, for both regular and negative keywords. Examining natural search referrals provides data on keywords that should be negative matched (traffic you don't want). PPC allows you to quickly test keywords and determine their conversion rates; you can use that data when deciding how to optimize your site for organic crawlers. Sharing keyword performance data across both efforts makes them both more likely to produce conversions.

Also, integrating the two campaigns allows for a deeper understanding of which keywords convert best on which landing pages. This aids your natural strategy for optimizing specific keywords for particular pages. Integrating the two also creates the opportunity to quickly test ad copy on what entices users to click, and then apply that knowledge to the organic site optimization strategy.

Finally, coordinating PPC bidding strategy with natural search results provides an opportunity to catch users below the fold if they don't click on a top-ranked listing above the fold. If you already have a No. 1 natural ranking on a keyword and don't want to pay for double exposure by displaying a top-ranked PPC ad, you can intentionally place your PPC ad in position six, for instance. This would make your ad appear below the fold, and have a second chance at picking up a user who didn't click on the natural listing.

Bottom line: Marketers can no longer afford to ignore the symbiotic relationship of PPC and SEO, and the positive returns netted from the effective integration of these two campaigns. In the end, it's about producing results. If you are going to engage in both PPC and SEO, do it effectively, in an integrated and streamlined approach with one vendor.

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