30-second summary:

  • Given that consumers are doing billions of searches every day – with Google processing an estimated 40,000 per second – it’s clear that marketers need a smart strategy to keep competition out.
  • The question is, will they get the highest traffic and performance with SEO or PPC?
  • The head of Paid Media at Tug gives insights into how a perfect balance of these two facets can lead to success in the new normal.

Online consumer activity is at an all time high. No wonder, then, that many marketers are trying to get the most of it by getting their attention to the search point early on. However, deciding how best to do this is not necessarily an easy one.

With consumers doing billions of searches every day – with an estimated 40,000 per second processing by Google – it’s clear that marketers need a smart strategy to keep competition out. The question is: will search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) get the highest traffic and performance?

Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. PPC is a quick win that enables businesses to reach consumers quickly and increase visibility. However, lead generation only lasts while the money is flowing, and depending on the size and scope of the campaign, these costs can be high. Meanwhile, SEO offers more permanent rewards and higher click-through rates (CTRs), often for less investment. However, marketers may have to wait a long time for organic searches to pay off and they may still lag behind the dominant digital marketplaces for certain keywords.

Ultimately, the most intelligent route is neither one nor the other, but a combination of both. The mix of PPC and SEO not only leads to better results, but also makes up for their respective shortcomings and gives marketers the best chance of success in the new, ever-changing normal.

Using a combination of paid and organic addiction tactics isn’t new – but it’s never been clear how best to do it or how the data can be visualized for optimization. Sharing PPC and SEO can be a challenge. However, creating perfect synergies is possible when marketers focus on the following three factors:

Unify searches

With consumers spending a quarter of their waking day online, marketers have plenty of opportunities to poke their interest through search. In order to outmaneuver rivals and capture eyeballs first, brands need to make quick, yet informed decisions about which approach will produce the ideal result.

To achieve this, holistic insights are required, which in turn require greater unity. Often times, teams work in silos because of the general understanding of PPC and SEO as separate entities. However, this isolates valuable knowledge of consumer behavior and the tactics that generate the greatest rewards. As simple as it sounds, removing departments and encouraging teams to share their insights can vastly improve campaign execution and drive more efficient CPAs.

For example, best performing keyword and ad copy information from the PPC teams will help the SEO teams optimize meta descriptions and website content.

Sharing information on which keyword campaigns are covered also prevents duplication of efforts. For example, if organic keyword positions improve, there may be an opportunity to roll back PPC activity and reallocate the budget to other keywords to increase overall coverage. Similarly, updates from the SEO team on keywords that are particularly competitive to rank in the top positions provide an opportunity for PPC to generate incremental conversions. And on a more basic level, both SEO and PPC teams can make sure they are up to date and responding to opportunities as quickly as possible by sharing new or emerging search terms with one another.

Choose a technology that drives collaboration

The next step is integrated technology. Implementing tools to collect and merge data from multiple sources – including PPC and SEO campaigns – makes collaboration easier. Not to mention generating a complete view of collective searches, performance, and opportunities for businesses.

A holistic and uniform dashboard can, for example, make the combined search performance visible on the basis of KPIs and activities of the competitors. This allows PPC and SEO teams to see where opportunities are emerging and how strategies can be adjusted to take advantage of them without duplicating each other. Marketers can understand where organic rankings are high and competitor activity is low, and vice versa. This means they know when to cut back on PPC activity, as well as ways to get incremental conversions beyond what SEO can do.

However, all of this depends on accuracy and ease of use. Information must be reliable and actionable, which means that simply piecing together the data points is not enough: in addition to robust cleansing, processing, and storage, tools must provide accessible visualization.

Although often overlooked, clearly presented data plays a huge role in improving daily activity. Providing an optimized picture of keywords and performance metrics is critical. However, to ensure teams can locate world-class SERPs, accelerate traffic, and increase conversions, organizations also need tools that their teams can use to quickly find and activate critical insights.

Don’t forget human checks

However, choosing technical usage comes with a warning – no matter how intelligent platforms may be, they cannot completely replace human experience and expertise. Sophisticated tools offer a number of benefits that go well beyond translating data into a more cohesive and user-friendly format. The most advanced offer instant alerts that tell PPC teams where their competitors are bidding – or not – and using artificially intelligent analysis (AI) to provide a cross-market, cross-industry, and cross-class perspective of SEO activity.

Human knowledge continues to be of paramount importance in steering search campaigns in the right direction and capturing the nuances that machines are missing. For example, problem solving engines may be the fastest route to objective completion for certain pages or messages, but seasoned search professionals may see the potential for longer term uses that provide higher incremental value.

As a result, businesses need to avoid the risk of becoming overly dependent on their marketing tools. By persistently applying manual verification and comparing automated inference to human knowledge, they can get the most out of technology and human power.

Today’s marketing leaders face multiple uncertainties, but when it comes to search, the way forward is clear. PPC and SEO complement each other; Achieve deeper insights and higher returns together as well as minimize risk. By combining the two and taking a considered approach to a data-driven search strategy, organizations can ensure that campaigns are strong enough to thrive in the new normal and adopt whatever tomorrow brings.

Asher Gordon is Tug’s Head of Paid Media. He leads a multidisciplinary media team that plans, purchases, and delivers integrated media plans for a variety of clients. With over 10 years of experience in various markets and brands at PHD and Wavemaker, Asher works with clients to improve their marketing goals and grow their business.