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PPC and SEO Work Better Together Than in Separate Silos

PPC and SEO initiatives are projects often executed by different teams. In some organizations, SEO is handled in-house, with PPC outsourced to an external agency. In others, SEO and PPC might both be handled in-house, but within different departments with different budgets and supervising personnel. Other organizations might give different agencies each task, believing — for better or worse — in a “best of breed” approach.

A degree of specialization can be expected where executive turf lines define budget boundaries. But strong reasons exist for unifying and integrating PPC and SEO efforts under one umbrella — in a single, integrated team — that manages both sides at once. Why?

SEO and PPC Share a Common Goal
Because the target of both PPC and SEO marketing efforts is the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), marketers need to understand how paid and organic listings work together to drive behavior. A recent study by Nielsen Research shows why this is important: when a brand name appeared in both organic and paid search results, the brand attracted 92% of total clicks. When the brand was mentioned only in organic results, the brand only got 60% of clicks. That’s a huge difference.

There will always be clear synergy between organic and paid performance on search engine results pages. Staying on top of these interaction effects — and making the most of them — is easier with one group managing all search-oriented marketing efforts. Once an interaction effect is identified, the opportunity can be maximized by doing pulse testing (which examines the effect that selectively reducing PPC on SERPs with good organic position has on conversions).

Keywords unify both PPC and SEO disciplines
Keywords — the atomic building blocks of search engine marketing — are common to SEO and PPC. In SEO, keywords inform site structure and content strategy; in PPC, keywords drive creative. Keyword research identifies the terms, monthly traffic volume, and competitive status of business-driving queries. While search is growing more “semantic,” (less keyword-centric) keyword data remains foundational on both the paid and the organic side. Keyword insights derived from the organic side need to be shared with the paid side, and vice versa. Having a unified team in place allows much closer coordination of keyword-related research and implementation.

Search behavior is reactive and responsive (that’s why search is often characterized as a “demand-harvesting” medium). Exposure to other media (e.g. television) often has a measurable influence on search behavior. SEO-driven improvements to one’s site may make paid campaigns cheaper to run (because the search engine algorithms reward advertisers whose destination URLs are optimized in the sense of being relevant, fast-loading, and “sticky”). Bottom line: the multiple interaction effects of paid and unpaid SEM initiatives are more comprehensible within a single team than in disparate ones.

Metrics Are Shared Across Both Disciplines
Leveraging the insights gained from both PPC and SEO channels can inform all your inbound and outbound marketing efforts. Paid campaign data — when correlated with organic usage data from site analytics — provides a more complete picture of how searchers are experiencing your online properties than from more compartmentalized inspection. Data from each discipline allows you to put together a complete picture — to “get inside the mind of the searcher” in effect. Once you’ve done this, you can extend these insights outward to other teams, which may include e-mail, social media, PR, or other groups.

It’s Time To De-Siloize Marketing Teams

Some degree of “siloization” is inevitable, even in the most agile organizations (because of the natural human tendency to compartmentalize and hoard information). But unless information is shared to the right people so that they can act on it in a timely fashion, this information is practically worthless. Putting PPC and SEO groups in separate silos rarely makes sense, because the active exchange of information is so vital for identifying and exploiting instantaneous opportunities. Removing unnecessary organizational silos makes your entire marketing organization stronger, more efficient, and more nimble. Ultimately, this increased efficiency translates into greater Net Search Profit over time.

Steven Baldwin
Steven Baldwin
Author, Editor, Web Producer, New Yorker. Best known for bird-centric blog:

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