Your Left Hand Needs to Talk to Your Right Hand in Search

Hands Talking To Each Other

Let’s first take a moment to let the cover image of this story wear off a bit. It’s pretty freaky, I know. Once that’s done, let’s talk about how the evolution of search marketing has come to the point that we need to use freaky images to get your attention.

SEO and PPC are very different which is why for years it has been okay to have one company running one and another company running the other. They have always been complementary of each other but they didn’t necessarily have to talk to each other. The separation between paid and organic has for some time been considered a positive – trying to do both is hard because of the potential conflict in strategy and purpose.

Things have changed in 2013. The two must talk to each other. Whether it’s two different companies working each separately or through a single company that handles both with different departments, the best way to have a solid search marketing strategy is by making sure that efforts on both fronts are truly working together. When done properly, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Here’s why:

  • PPC Focus on Organic Weaknesses – SEO takes time. PPC is instant. When there are important keywords that are lagging from an organic perspective, the fastest way to bridge the gap is through PPC.
  • Organic Cannibalization – This is a debate that I would love to have with any search professional. If you’re ranked at the top organically for a mid-level search term, you don’t need to pay as much for it (or even buy it at all). Studies have shown that for the types of mid-level search terms that garner clicks based upon choice rather than position, PPC can take organic clicks away and yield the same basic results as not buying that keyword in the first place. In other words, the money is spent but the clicks don’t measurably increase. There is a very specific strategy behind identifying these types of keywords that would take more than this blog post to flesh out, but when the two sides are communicating, money is saved on the same number of clicks. In essence, ROI goes up as a result.
  • Double Down Principle – There are certain keywords with which it makes sense to dominate from both a paid and organic perspective. This is where having a shared understanding of the analytics driving both comes into play. For example, is a page ranks at the top organically, a consolidated strategy would have the paid listing pointing to a different landing page. When people click through to one, then the other, they’re greeted with two different types of propositions.
  • Rightsized Budgets – This is arguably the most important reason to have organic and paid talking to each other, even being the same entity. There are times when services should compete, but this isn’t one of those times. When the dollars are being managed separately, both sides want more of the budget to prove success. When the budgets are consolidated, the goals align to achieve the most high-value clicks for the amount of money being spent regardless of which hand is doing the spending. It’s the best path to achieve the highest ROI on search marketing spend.

Take a look at your paid and organic search companies. Are they talking to each other? Are either saying that they don’t need to talk to the other because they work independently? If so, it may be time to look at someone else because that sort of thinking is antiquated. Get the two hands talking to each other as soon as possible.

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13 thoughts on “Your Left Hand Needs to Talk to Your Right Hand in Search”

  1. Gail Monique Mallo says:

    I agree with this completely. I am a social media manager for a tech start up and mostly I have been investing time on organic search and we’re doing great on our target keywords. PPC is risky these days because of Google so we try to be as genuine as possible, meaning more patience when it comes to monitoring and analyzing our site rankings.

  2. Trond says:

    Great title, JD! :-)
    Most people don’t know how to do this, or totally underestimate what you’re saying here. Avinash Kaushik published some interesting numbers on Google+ today that every marketer should look at right away. Time to get out of the hamster wheel! :-)

    Organic is good for the garden, but also for sales and long-term value!


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