Top 10 Reasons for PPC & SEO Synergy

Nov. 28, 2008 | by Jonathan Stewart

As you’d expect, at iCrossing we argue that a client’s search works better when it has paid and natural with the same agency. But, below is a list of the ten reasons (in no particular order) that explain why we genuinely believe this to be the case.

As we dig deeper to assess the precise impact of these synergies, we’d love your thoughts on how paid and natural search affect each other. Here’s the list:

1. Unified reporting

Having the results of paid and natural work reported in the same place helps us understand the relationship between the two better and think about a user’s complete search journey, rather than paid or natural in isolation.

2. Ad copy optimisation

Where successful copy executions reveal themselves in paid search, that learning can be transferred immediately to site optimisation for natural rankings.

3. Landing page strategy
Paid search people think about landing pages almost exclusively in terms of conversion. SEO people think about landing pages almost exclusively in terms of search engine ranking. By combining the two approaches, you should end up with the perfect landing page – one that ranks highly AND converts.

4. Management efficiency
Quite simply, if the client has their entire search strategy in one place, they only have to deal with one agency. This saves a lot of time and money in terms of communication, project management, results reporting, account management and much more.

5. Search user experience
If the same agency works on paid and natural then the user is more likely to see the same search ‘face’ whether they’re looking at organic or sponsored results. For example, ad copy, landing pages, and keyword strategy. This equates to a unified brand experience throughout their search journey

6. Risk mitigation
If a site or page, for whatever reason, drops off the organic search results (e.g. a Google algorithm update), the PPC team can immediately fill the gap until the SEO is adjusted to suit.

7. Cannibalisation
The effect of owning PPC terms where natural results already rank highly differs completely according to the brand, site, product, ranking position, competition and many other factors. When paid and natural are in the same place, these effects can be understood and accounted for.

8. Traffic forecasting
PPC search ads are a reliable and usable way of forecasting how optimising against a particular keyword might perform in terms of traffic and conversions. So wherever a natural search optimisation (NSO) forecast is needed, paid search can act as a reliable predictor.

9. Performance-sharing
The results of natural and paid campaigns contain lessons for both. Transferring the lessons from one to the other is much easier when they are housed in the same business.

10. Long-tail strategy
Often, while natural is focused on the big traffic-driving keywords, they are too expensive in PPC. At the same time, PPC can be used to drive traffic from the ‘long tail’ of keywords – e.g. misspellings – which are not usually picked up through organic search. Filling the gaps of the other is much easier when natural and paid are run in the same place.

So there’s the list. What do you think? Have you seen any research – or had your own experiences – that you think offers insight into the truth of the relationship between paid and natural search? All contributions are welcome and we’ll keep you updated as we dig further into this knotty topic.

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    Comments (15)

    • Top SEO Tools

      Sometimes the best are free!May 15, 2011 02:59 am

    • Paul Doleman

      I disagree a tad with Tim Aldis, that only clicks can be measured for Natural Search.

      Whilst not 100% accurate tools like Ad GooRoo give you natural search impression rates and CTRs and for critical terms there is nothing to stop you (other than a Google IP block) checking SERPS every 5 minutes and calculating impressions. You'd then have to throw in search data from Google tools say to work out CTRs. Also CPCs are easy to calculate.

      Also Yahoo! and Bing make freely availble Natural Search impression, CTR and position data thorugh their APIs.

      All this isn't science, but would give a level of accuracy sufficient for comparison.Feb 18, 2010 02:42 pm

    • Tim Aldiss

      The most talked about focus for synergies between these two channels is the creative message, and how easy it is to test in paid and apply the best performing creative to the meta description to improve click through rates in natural. There's one flaw here though. The typical success metrics, as generally reported by agencies in paid search, are impressions, click through rate and clicks. Two fo these three factors cannot be measured against natural search - impressions, and therefore click through rate, so the assumption would have to be made that any increase in clicks would be as a result of the updated meta description. There are so many other factors influencing natural search such microscopic detail may be overlooked.Feb 8, 2009 08:27 pm

    • Top 10 Reasons for PPC & SEO Synergy - iCrossing

      [...] read the full article Categories : Google Adwords Comments [...]Dec 23, 2008 12:14 pm

    • reece

      Hi there, I read this post titled "Reasons for PPC & SEO Synergy - iCrossing" about a week ago, might have been last Saturday, and thought it was a good point. I've been trying for the last few days to find your site again but ended up finding it in Google using the keywords "ppc management". Anyway, I've forgotten what I wanted to post last week but I will be returning regularly. Bookmarked the page.Dec 14, 2008 03:22 am

    • Google BPF – the fall-out - iCrossing

      [...] will win out: those that invested BPF in developing real search expertise and technology, can make natural and paid search work together to develop efficiency, and use ‘native’ digital planning techniques (e.g. linguistic profiling [...]Dec 12, 2008 12:38 pm

    • Tom Jones

      @ Xurxo.

      Absolutely agree with you there.   Delineating between disciplines is pretty much an arbitrary exercise; clients tend not to care whether a strategy is predominantly paid or natural search as long as the results comprise a successful and cost-effective solution to their marketing needs.
      Bringing paid search and natural together ensures that the client’s interests and not those of the agency are put at the forefront of all target setting and decision making.

      Dec 9, 2008 03:30 pm

    • Will Lockie

      I would also add that it gives you the opportunity to test more and quicker - and as the power of search as a branding tool is something that most brands acknowledge, but struggle to actually quantify from their own data (and thus place a value on), then doing it all under one roof will help you get there quicker.Dec 8, 2008 10:38 pm

    • Xurxo Vidal

      Interesting to see what a hot topic SEO vs PPC has become lately. I'm happy to see that while many still think in terms of one channel being better than the other, there seem to be many more that recognize the synergies between the two to generate higher ROI.

      The argument of SEO vs PPC is like saying two players on the same team are trying to score against each other rather than pull together towards a common goal.

      Doesn't make much sense! Thanks for bringing some logic and reason to the discussion!Dec 5, 2008 03:22 pm

    • Tom Jones

      @ PPCManchester. Cheers for your comments.

      For some companies it's a valid argument to look to adopt a long term strategy which aims to replace paid activity with SEO traffic but I’d say it all depends on the individual business model and a site’s ability to monetize the traffic it receives.

      If a site converts well and you have a good paid search campaign then I don't see any reason not to go for the incremental volume which is available by running paid alongside SEO activity. In the context of 'synergy' the only caveat to this would be to look to actually measure the incremental cost and benefit of running paid and SEO together.

      Regarding the issue of meta descriptions, I’d say the reason for this is purely down to the relative ease of testing ad copy using paid search versus SEO. With a high volume paid search term it’s very quick and easy to perform tests and get a lot of quantified data which will let you see which creative not only has the best CTR but also best conversion rate. It’s then a piece of cake to make informed suggestions to your natural search buddies for their meta descriptions. It’s just not as easy to do this the other way around.Dec 3, 2008 11:18 am

    • OnlineMediaLimited

      PPC and SEO need to be optimised under one roof - easier said than done though.

      No matter how much you try, two agencies handling one of PPC and SEO struggle to work towards one common goal.

      When optimised together - you drive more volume. Unfortunately, clients still do not understand the benefit of doing so.Dec 3, 2008 10:18 am

    • PPCManchester

      Good post. I have heard many clients say that  they are embarking on SEO with the idea in their head that it will allow them to stop doing PPC in the future.  This is shows that PPC and SEO should work together and should not be done as an either / or option.

      I think that many companies do not pay enough attention to the meta description in the natural listings, these should be optimised to boost click through rates just as much as PPC ads.  Do you think that the reason they are not as well optimised for CTR is that they are maintained by SEO staff who are less au fait with writing ad copy than PPC staff?Dec 2, 2008 05:19 pm

    • David Hughes

      Nice summary Jonny.  I might add;
      Increased (greater than the sum of the parts) click through.  There's been a few studies on this, ranging from a small to a greater effect.  Whatever the size of it, having your paid and natural results synced seems to be a benefit and the easiest way to do this is within one agency.

      Some research from iCrossing US on the matterDec 1, 2008 01:31 pm

    • Jonathan Stewart

      No problem - thanks for the Sphinn :)Dec 1, 2008 12:33 pm

    • Olivier

      Good post. Hope you don't mind I threw it up on Sphinn after I tried sphinning it off the link and saw it was not submitted.Dec 1, 2008 10:24 am

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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