I have yet to encounter a search professional who has all the pieces of a full-blown search campaign working in full harmony. By full-blown search, I mean: SEO, pay-per-click, media, feeds, re-messaging, behavioral targeting and paid inclusion.
We all have ideas of what we're trying to do and where we're headed, but each one of those different disciplines is more often than not siloed off in its own little world, looking almost exclusively at that small slice of data about search. That small slice is not perfect, nor does it give much real insight to the larger view of user intent. What if we all shared our data with each other and combined it to gain a broader view of user behavior to fully optimize all our campaigns and ultimately create efficiency that leads to a maximized ROI for our clients?
That is the quest for perfect information.
However, perfect information would cost the search engines substantially, which is why they are so tight-fisted with their communication about how searchers use their services. A typical search agency has a wealth of information that, if shared and leveraged correctly, would allow us to come closer to "perfect" than we could come using solely the data of any one division.
The most obvious combination of search data starts with PPC and SEO. Of course, you or your client will have a pet set of keywords and phrases that are deemed important and worth using. These keywords are typically not well-researched and are often not as high-value as we'd like to believe. Enter PPC data. We have rank, click-through, conversion and volume data here to measure the effectiveness of any ad or ad group. Just because the boss says a generic term is important is not a good enough reason. Back up your decision with data. Also, I guarantee your PPC department has spent countless hours tweaking the creative for each ad to help drive up click-through rate and conversion. Why not use that successful creative in your meta description tag?
SEO has some interesting data to pass back to PPC and paid inclusion as well. With any half-decent Web analytics package, you can easily see hundreds and thousands of terms that drive decent traffic to your Web site from organic search which have not been considered in a PPC or paid-inclusion effort. Additionally, if they are not managed effectively, they end up a big broad-matched bucket of words in a catch-all ad campaign. Using SEO data, you can more effectively break out some of these long-tail terms into more targeted ad groups. Similarly, some of these terms may be prime candidates for the more cost-effective paid-inclusion traffic that Yahoo is so good at generating.
I once heard that a particular truck company sold more trucks in Texas alone than all the rest of the United States combined in one year. I'd hazard a guess that if you could get the analytics data for some of the major automotive companies, you'd be able to see that trend developing and plan accordingly. Getting your hands on this data can be invaluable as you plan geo-targeted PPC ads or focused behavior targeting campaigns. Knowing what path a consumer is on, and where he is headed, allows you to target him with a re-messaging campaign.
So the path to perfect information, from my perspective, looks like this: SEO leads to PPC, which gets us to behavioral, which leads to paid inclusion, which takes us to re-messaging and leads to feeds and that leads us to media buying. You can re-order that sentence however you like and loop it back to the beginning. If the data flows in all directions, you can come much closer to perfect information--and perfect information will lead you straight to the bank.