There is a lot of controversy about whether organic or paid digital marketing channels provide the best return for businesses. This debate continues even within the search marketing community, and each side claims a number of well-known and respected proponents. Putting that all aside for a moment, ask yourself this clarifying question: Are you thinking about search marketing in the way that makes sense for your business? If there is one thing that both sides can agree on, it is that visibility in the search engines is a good thing, and we all want more of it. The scarcity of the top positions in search engines for valuable keywords is real, as is the opportunity cost of not playing the game at all. If you are not actively engaged in improving your visibility where it counts, the likelihood that your competitors will ultimately benefit is very high. The best thing that you can do is to view search marketing as an investment that deserves a strategy. A partnership with a team of experts makes the breadth of this strategy more manageable and allows you to capitalize on more of the opportunities at hand. The best search marketing strategies do not favor organic over paid, but find ways to optimize the use of both channels to reap the greatest benefit. Below are the highest impact ways that including both of these channels in your arsenal can improve your online marketing strategy and make you a better, more efficient brand evangelist:
- Keyword data. The #1 way to determine what works well in search is to battle test keywords in a pay-per-click campaign. This will reveal not only click-through rates for given terms in your specific geographic area, but also valuable insight into which keywords your audience is actually searching in order to trigger your ads. Once you have these insights, you need to make them actionable! Follow the market; map the best performing keywords to your website and do on-page optimization while continuing to develop content around them. These efforts will pay off by bringing in more organic traffic down the road. Additionally, they will help to improve your quality scores for paid search, which will provide savings and boost average ad position with time.
- Occupy more real estate in the search results page. There have been multiple studies done that suggest that click-through rates in the search engine results increase dramatically when multiple results for the same domain exist on the same page. With PPC & SEO, you can build strategies to try and rank highly for terms of great value to your business. By taking over spots both on top, in the side bar, through Shopping ads, local, and organic results, the opportunities for a strong brand to own SERPs for their key terms is higher than ever. Plus, having a plan in place for both disciplines will make you more resilient to changes in the ranking algorithms.
- Achieve greater spending efficiencies when you work with an agency that isn't organized in silos. By sharing keyword data among teams within the agency, you can optimize spending by channel. On the paid side, you can review the "Paid vs. Organic" report in Google AdWords to see which terms perform better where - and adjust strategy accordingly. What used to work well in the past may not be working as well today. For instance, new advertisers are always entering the marketplace, and occasionally bid automation software will drive up the cost of individual keywords to a point that makes their paid ROI negligible. If that kind of situation arises, you can begin working on an organic ranking strategy to stay relevant for that term and save money in the process.
Working with someone that understands how your business objectives can be mapped to a marketing strategy and subsequently deployed through all of the tools available (such as search engine optimization and pay per click) will put you among the elite in today's digital marketing world. A good strategy is comprehensive, integrated, and tied to the numbers. So if you haven't been putting your website to work for you in as many ways as possible, ask yourself: Are you thinking about search marketing in the way that makes sense for your business? Follow the author of this post, Ben Page, at @Benjamin_Page.