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How to integrate paid and natural search marketing

How to integrate paid and natural search marketing

By Nigel Muir, Managing Director of DBD Media.

Increasingly online advertisers are relying on paid search to deliver sales, visibility and leads.  The recession has pulled this in to sharper focus with marketers needing their budgets to work much harder for them.

But, as keyword competition and bid prices increase, SEO is proving to be a smart and economically beneficial channel through which to push marketing messages. 

Moreover, recent announcements from the main search engines on the integration of real-time search in to their rankings clearly shows the importance of SEO.

It follows that those marketers that understand how to use social media channels to populate the internet with their content will sew and reap a significant SEO benefit.    

So why are agencies and brands struggling to bring PPC and SEO together?

One of the key reasons is that the methods of delivery are very different: SEO is a spatial exercise, touching on a wide range of disciplines – whilst PPC is more linear, where the skills are similar to those found in a trading environment.

The major consequence of this perception is that internal ownership at many companies attributes SEO as a “technical” discipline and PPC as “media”.  This leads to separate budgets, stakeholders and resources and splits search into two silos.

One result is that the search industry now has a tendency towards jargon loaded explanations of how to run a search campaign that makes the most of paid and natural search.

Words like “synergy”, “integration” and “combined methodology”, are used to describe how to bring together something that is really one by nature.

Here are six tactics that DBD Media has found will make your search efforts (and budgets) work harder through using the strengths of paid and natural search to help each other. 

Tactic 1 – Reporting

You need to be reporting on search as a whole. Have drill downs in your reporting so you can split out paid and natural search – but for the most part report on search as one channel. This will allow you to see overall uplift and ROI for all your search activity in one place and assign budgets accordingly.  

Tactic 2 – Let paid search inform your SEO strategy

Ensure that you use the keyword data from your paid search campaigns to decide which keywords you want to invest your SEO efforts in. The paid search data will tell you which keywords convert for you.  Where bid prices or where CPA on some keywords is too high to compete profitably on, direct your SEO strategy towards these keywords.

Tactic 3 – Let your natural search rankings inform your PPC bid strategy

Once you start ranking for strong keywords in natural search – you can decide on your PPC strategy around those keywords.

- Dual visibility – get your PPC and natural search to rank as high as you can and dominate the page above the fold for maximum impact

- Pull back – reallocate some of your PPC budget to where you have low visibility in your natural ranking

- 1 up 1 down – have one listing appear above the fold and the other appear below the fold to gain maximum coverage on the results page

Tactic 4 - Messaging

Remember search is one channel with two opportunities for messaging. Let your natural search page title and description carry your core brand messaging and your paid search deliver your tactical or promotional messaging, with a strong call to action.

Tactic 5 – Use SEO to bring down your CPC’s

According to Google the two algorithms (natural and paid) aren't linked and the models evolve in tandem. 

This is Google-speak for: if you want to understand how our paid search Quality Score is evaluated, keep an eye on our natural search spider.

Semantic mark up (those snippets of code that tell the search engines what your page is about) is used by Google in understanding paid search landing pages.  So optimise your page title, description and copy around the paid search keywords you are advertising on.

This is probably one of the most under-utilised methods of making your paid search work harder for you (We have noticed reductions of up to 20% in Google bid prices for clients who have employed this technique to up their Quality Score).

Tactic 6 – Use paid search tools for SEO

Google has a suite of tools designed for building paid search campaigns, but they can be used for planning natural search campaigns just as easily.

Keywords – using the Google keyword tool you can get an idea of search volumes around certain terms.  This is a great starting point to find keywords that will deliver you traffic volume.

Linking – Google’s Ad Planner tool which is used for planning display and content network campaigns is a fantastic resource when it comes to link building. It has a wide range of filters that allow you to see sites that are related to the audience you are trying to reach.

To sum up – whilst really well integrated paid and natural search campaigns remain elusive in real life, there are a number of tactics that can be used to make the most of your paid and natural search strengths.

At DBD Media, our over-riding belief is that in order to work your marketing budgets, search should be managed as one channel with two different component parts.

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