As you know, SEO deals with your organic listings and SEM deals with your paid search advertising. The two are completely separate. Or, are they? When you think of a paid ad, it’s easy to assume that you pay for every click they generate, but research shows that just isn’t true.
Where Do Those Clicks Really Come From?
When we think of the clicks generated by a paid ad, we often think only of the clicks that go directly through the ad. But did you know paid listings are actually responsible for many of the clicks your organic listings get as well?
A recent study from Google from Google‘s lead researcher David Chan looked at this very thing. After examining six months worth of Search Ads Pause studies, he found paid ads didn’t detract from the ROI of organic listings and the clicks they generated weren’t limited to the ads themselves. Chan discovered paid ads could increase the incremental lift of organic listings by an estimated 86%.
In all, Chan found 81% of the ad impressions occurred alongside a related organic result, while 66% of the impressions did not. He was then able to further breakdown the numbers:
- When the related listing appeared in the #1 position, 50% of the paid search clicks were incremental.
- 82% of clicks were incremental, when the related organic results appeared in position #2, #3, or #4.
- When the associated organic result appeared in position #5 or higher, 96% of the clicks were incremental.
This means, if you were to turn off your SEM campaigns, you’d experience an estimated 85% loss in clicks that your organic listing will be unable to recapture. Your profits would take a huge hit, and the only way to stem the loss would be to turn the campaigns back on.
While the above data shows the location of the organic listing affects the incremental lift of paid ads, it isn’t the only factor. Industry, offering, company, surrounding listings and ads, time of year, and the audience being targeted can all have a profound effect on user behaviour and the ROI of organic and paid listings. Regardless, the research proves organic and paid search work much better when they’re planned, executed, and managed together.
How Combining SEO and SEM Can Maximise Your ROI
Some marketing components such as AdWords, social ads, image and video ads, mobile advertising, local ads, and content networks are SEM-specific. Other components such as onsite optimisation, link building, social media, mobile, and local marketing tactics are SEO specific. But you still need to consider both SEO and SEM together to get the most out of every search-marketing dollar.
By considering paid and organic search when designing a search strategy, for instance, you can get an accurate look at the entire marketing environment. It’s then possible to identify the most profitable long and short-term opportunities, and adjust your SEO and SEM strategies to maximise return and obtain your objectives efficiently. Lastly, if something changes, you can easily adapt your SEO and SEM strategies and budget to meet these new needs.
Both search marketing methods should also be included in your KPI and reports. Again, this gives you a more accurate picture of what’s going on, allows you to get more accurate measurements, and ensures both methods are on track when it comes to achieving your goals.
Keywords and keyword research should also take SEO and SEM into account. Armed with a large list of terms, you can examine each keyword and identify the specific traits associated with each one (the amount of potential traffic, the search cost if they were to be included in a paid search campaign). Then, you’re able to distribute the keyword phrases between your SEO and SEM campaigns in a way that keeps spending down while maximising opportunity.
Landing page optimisation can also benefit from this approach. For example, we use SEO keyword phrases to optimise landing page content. This brings in more traffic and improves the landing page’s quality and relevancy score, keeping SEM costs down. In short, we use SEM to improve the results of your SEO campaign and vice versa.
Because SEM includes testing to maximise click-through and conversion rates for each keyword, you can collect and use this information to create more effective content and meta descriptions. And the same goes for competitor analysis. You can get a more accurate idea of what each competitor is doing, and therefore, it’s easier to identify opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Investing in SEM for terms you’re already ranking for organically might seem like a bit of a waste at first, but when you consider the benefits of using SEO and SEM together, how can you afford not to?