Kyle Ward
April 14, 2022

Integrated Organic & Paid Search: More than the sum of its parts

The turbulence we’ve experienced globally over the past 18-24 months has had a remarkable impact on online behaviour. While Australia was spared the worst of the pandemic when compared to other regions of the world, the overnight push for online school, work and play forced us to reimagine how we use the internet.

With a degree of normalcy now seeming to return as we begin 2022, we’re finding the more immediate, pandemic-driven shifts return to their pre-pandemic ways, as illustrated by Marketing Week. Australian domestic and state borders are slowly opening to the vaccinated public, office spaces across the country are filling back up with those who had been working from home and ecommerce behaviour has returned to a level that aligns with pre-pandemic trends.

So, what does this mean for search marketing in particular? With CPC and CPM figures seeing significant increases through 2021 – the need for a diverse marketing mix is as important as ever.

In the context of a shifting landscape, an integrated search strategy that reaches customers where they are is key to success in search marketing. 

What are integrated search campaigns and why should I care?

Integrated search campaigns leverage the strengths of paid and organic search campaigns. More specifically, pay-per-click advertising and organically generated content found in the results pages of Google Search and other search engines.

Integrated search campaigns play to the strengths of both types. The inherent differences between the two allow for different marketing techniques, approaches and strategies to be experimented with throughout. Diversifying your marketing mix in this way can provide insight that will then inform a larger digital strategy. 

The strengths of organic search campaigns

An organic strategy is, by its very nature, designed to represent the long game and is planned out months in advance. The long-term nature of an SEO strategy lends itself to this – with results frequently taking a longer lead time before they materialise in a meaningful way. While progress can be less immediate , you’ll be rewarded in the long run.

Additionally, the constant insights that can be drawn from a well-executed SEO strategy allow for tweaking, rescoping and a continuous discussion into what has worked, what hasn’t and where pivots may be required. 

The strengths of paid search campaigns

On the flip side, the fast pace of paid campaigns lend themselves well to providing a far more immediate impact. A paid campaign can be developed, implemented and the results reaped in as little time as a matter of days.

A perfect example of this in action is in the launch of a brand new product or brand campaign – where awareness and a return on your investment can be generated almost immediately. 

Paid search campaigns are also highly targeted, with the ability to select audiences related to detailed demographics, in-market factors, their previous interactions with your site and their affinity to hobbies, interests and lifestyle factors. There is also custom segmentation, providing further opportunities for experimentation.

These key differences provide the backdrop to the importance of integrated search.

The inherent benefits of combining SEO & PPC

Some of the more direct ways in which integrated campaigns can benefit one another are as follows:

  1. On-page content intended to help SEO rankings can increase relevance and lower costs for PPC campaigns. You may have heard of Google or Bing’s Quality Score metric, which evaluates the relevance of the ad campaign’s targeting to the page on your site it points to. Well-constructed content on target pages can greatly improve Quality Scores and improve the average cost-per-click.
  2. Similarly, site speed is also a key factor across both disciplines. For SEO, site speed is a key ranking factor and has only become more important with the newly established Core Web Vitals guidelines. However, a faster landing page will also lower your cost for paid listings.
  1. The quickfire learnings from a PPC campaign can be used to test for the long-term. The speed at which a paid campaign can produce actionable insights is a huge boon to an evolving search strategy. PPC campaigns can be the perfect playground to experiment with targeting, audiences and approach – all of which are transferable to your organic search campaign.
  1. Paid search campaigns can quickly build awareness, even for total newcomers. Paid campaigns can be a perfect option for enterprises looking to build up their brand recognition. The advent of brand awareness will contribute nicely to the traffic you attract from all sources.
  1. Targeting terms across both paid and organic allow for two bites of the cherry. After all, there is only so much real estate available for you to occupy in the SERPs!
  1. You can cater your approach with profitability in mind. Some of the more expensive keywords to target with paid campaigns can instead be targeted by the more cost-effective method of ranking through organic search. If you’re patient, you could find yourself ranking organically for terms you would pay a handsome price for a click from.
  1. Integrating your marketing efforts is more in line with the direction of the industry. With the advent of newer features in the search landscape such as paid local search functionality, and free organic shopping listings – all signs point towards the lines between paid and organic search being blurred. 

Some additional considerations for integrated search 

While the impacts that paid and organic campaigns have on one another are far-reaching, there are some common blind spots.

Investment in branded terms 

You may find that branded terms are overlooked as part of your overall strategy. In the search for concrete results that can show how you compare to competitors, branded terms can be left out of the conversation. 

While they are often influenced most heavily by above the line marketing strategy, they must remain a crucial part of your integrated search campaign. Targeting of branded keywords in both an organic and paid context will always differ from category-level terms, so the approach here requires consideration.

Paid investment is not a direct ranking factor

Google confirmed years ago that implementing paid campaigns does not give you a default boost to your rankings or organic strength. However, this myth has had some sticking power. 

The only clear way to dominance in search is through a well planned and executed cohesive strategy. 

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