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Erik Newton
M Posted 9 years ago
t 4 min read

There was much discussion about “SEO vs. PPC” this past year, with many search marketing thought leaders arriving at the same conclusion: they need to learn to get along as one not only complements the other, but improves its performance. As Andy Betts wrote here at the BrightEdge blog, when your organization’s paid and organic search teams are competing rather than collaborating, it makes for a no-win overall in terms of search performance and ROI with redundant - and sometimes counterproductive - efforts.

Heading into the New Year, a more profitable and enlightened enterprise search strategy should consider how to corral paid (PPC) and organic (SEO) team efforts for a greater share in the search engine result pages (SERPs) and smarter resource allocation. So here we thought we’d highlight what search marketers had to say about PPC and SEO in 2014.

Frenemies? How SEO and PPC complete each other

It’s seemingly unavoidable with enterprise-level search firms: one department competes with the other as it hopes to win a bigger slice of the annual budgetary pie in a zero-sum game mindset. Heading up your organization’s search marketing, you’re likely well aware that such divisiveness between your SEO and PPC teams doesn’t serve your bottom line well.

In her recent article for Search Engine Watch, Erin Everhart underscores the need for SEO and PPC “to stop being enemies” as both search strategies contribute to the same conversion funnel. She writes that organic search is a research-based “top-of-the-funnel marketing tactic,” while paid search is an action-based strategy that “targets consumers who are further down your marketing funnel and thus further along in the buying process.” Everhart emphasizes a point made by BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu in his column for Search Engine Land back in June, namely that SEO and PPC is not an “either/or” strategy. He writes:

Most marketers would agree that to be competitive, we do not operate in an either/or environment. It’s not a choice between either SEO or social, or SEO and PPC. It’s a requirement that we understand how these channels work together to impact one another and a website’s ability to stay afloat in the growing search results.

Discussing how SEO and PPC work together for site visits (“clicks”) and conversions, Jim refers to research from Google at Search Engine Land, which shows the synergy of the two search strategies. According to the search giant, even for brands that position first in organic SERP rankings, paid ads provide a hefty 50 percent in incremental clicks - meaning that half of the No. 1 site’s visits would not have occurred in the absence of PPC ads. The contribution of PPC to organic SERP incremental clicks increases even more for listings No. 2 and lower, as detailed by Google in its study (noted above).

On the flip side, SEO informs PPC with page-level metrics such as Web traffic, conversion rates and revenue. Crispin Sheridan also recently addressed how SEO helps PPC strategy in his article for ClickZ, writing, “the need for content creation in SEO provides PPC with more landing pages to satisfy the intent of the user. Learning what content is most effective through SEO can provide PPC with new avenues for growth.”

Sheridan also discusses how PPC can inform SEO via immediate results, noting that the “time advantage” of PPC allows for the testing of keywords and “phrase matches” that drive Web traffic, leading to the creation of content that bolsters SEO. He further notes, “having your company displayed in both paid and organic results can be an indicator of trust to a user.” Google Analytics (GA) provides a multi-channel funnel report that shows what channel contributed to your firm’s conversions, including SEO, PPC and social media. Tapping into Google AdWords data here at BrightEdge, we can further determine:

  • Which of your Web pages have a better Quality Score.
  • The keywords on which of your site pages have the best Quality Score.
  • How users “judge” your Web pages via metrics such as bounce and exit rates, as well as time on page.

We hope this post assists you going forward with a healthy, integrated picture of how SEO and PPC work together for search strategy!