OPINION: Integration key for search marketing success

Matt Nunney
By Matt Nunney | 15 August 2012

Last week's AdNews article “paid search under scrutiny” revisited the topic of SEO and PPC integration. I was troubled by the article and amazed that some marketers still believe one discipline can be used as a substitute for the other.

Ultimately, this approach is the antithesis of smart search optimisation and flies in the face of numerous studies that highlight the synergistlic impact of integrating SEO and paid search. PPC and SEO are simply not interchangeable; focusing just one discipline is likely to not only lead to lost opportunities but also increased risk.

I believe the problem behind this misconception is three fold. People tend to put too much emphasis on their own search experiences when planning their search strategy, often relying on broad assumptions that do not reflect reality. The assumption that people don’t click on paid ads because they know they are advertising is not reflective of the entire search population. A lot of people click on paid ads and do so knowingly.

In many instances, this is because paid search ads are in fact more relevant than their organic counterparts. The assumption that well ranking natural listings will harvest all the clicks generated by paid ads if you switch them off is also a fallacy, as has been proven by many in-depth studies.

A lack of adequate understanding across both disciplines is also to blame. It’s rare to find people in the industry who fully understand both disciplines and how to take advantage of the opportunities each provides. Whilst both PPC and SEO results appear on the same page, the mechanism used to generate each type of result are very different. These differences provide marketers with distinct opportunities that should be utilised not ignored.

The synergistic effect of running both SEO and paid search together is also not well recognised. Studies such as Icrossing’s Search Performance Synergy report clearly show that integrating SEO and paid search results leads to an uplift in performance across multiple metrics, effectively creating a 1+1=3 effect.

The problem is easier than most people think. Ultimately, both marketers and agencies need to change the way they approach search marketing. Integration is key to maximise results. Broad assumptions and generalisations need to be put aside and more time needs to be spent testing how the two disciplines interact. The true trick is to regularly test and learn, tweak your campaigns and then do some more testing. The aim should be to find how SEO and paid search can be used to your advantage, not simply to abandon one over the other.

Matt Nunney
Head of Search
Maxus Australia

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