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Paid and Organic Search as an Integrated Part of a Marketer’s Search Strategy

Where to start?

Whenever something new is coming up, as an agency we aim at providing our clients with the latest updates in the search marketing world.  Generally, this generates lots of enthusiasm from our clients and within our teams as we always want to try new things to test.

Whether it’s a new feature available for our clients or a new Beta proposed by Google, we are usually very excited and interested as we like to push our clients to be innovative and ahead of the game in search. Trying something also give our teams valuable learnings.

If you are running paid search, you must be aware of the latest Betas available.  Among the latest from 2013, we can list product listings ads (PLAs), user’s reviews, and social extension.  An example of the latest one would be dynamic remarketing via Merchant Center.

Search evolves very fast and the format of the ads has evolved dramatically within the last year, especially the ad extensions. Below is a screen shot of the SERPs for the same keyword year-over-year.  You can see how improved the paid search ads have become:

serp

One of the new features I chose to talk about is the paid and organic search report available in the Google AdWords interface since August 2013. It has been the subject of lots of excitement among our digital marketing clients and within our teams. This report was actually in Beta about two years ago, but was only available via Google Docs Export.  That said, there has not been much done with it since it went public.

When Google announced late last summer that any advertiser can now link their Google Webmaster tool and Google AdWords to provide lots of insights for both channels, the excitement was extremely high. Advertisers can now see in the Google interface SEM and SEO data, side by side. Below is a screenshot of this report.

report

Source: www.lunametrics.com

As a group account director for Covario specialized in integration, I followed this closely with the operation teams to make sure our clients could implement  and benefit from this as soon as possible (if applicable). The idea was to also find actionable insights and try something different to improve our KPIs.

The common question I heard from our marketing clients was: “So we have this report … then what?“ Yes, then what?  There has not been much on this past the first weeks after its release.

This report is a great tool to start looking at the data provided and learn about the synergy of both channels. It can be a first step toward integration. It all starts with the data and what the data are telling us.  Most importantly, this can help us to make any online strategy successful.

How to start?  Begin by linking the AdWords account with the Google Webmaster Tool, which is pretty straight forward. Then the second step, collecting data is easy as well. But the last step, obtaining actionable insights is another story.

The initial excitement has quickly disappeared. There is very little research or a test that I could find on this beside a few examples here and there. However, a preliminary report from Seer Interactive* suggests that ad Click-through rates rose from 5 percent to 18 percent with organic search results on the SERP, while organic CTRs rose from 6 percent to 38 percent with an ad on the SERP, and that CTRs overall rose from 6 percent to 56 percent with both listings on SERPs.

The paid and organic report clearly demonstrates that exposure is maximized when both channels work together. In reality, however, media budgets are limited so we can’t bid on every single term.

I believe that this report can be used from the start as guidance to draft an SEM/SEO strategy. It will give advertisers some insights on what keywords to bid on, as well as identifying keywords are being missing out on from both an SEO and a paid search perspective.

With these insights, advertisers can decide what to run in both paid and organic channels by choosing rules with which they are most comfortable. For example, if some targeted SEO keywords are beyond page 1, paid search should definitely support those keywords.  If those keywords are on the first page of the SERPs, advertisers can adjust with the ad’s position and find the optimum rankings they should aim for – so basically, find each keyword sweet spot for the best return.

Obviously, digital marketers can’t focus on every single keyword.  I would suggest focusing on one at a time to start based on priority (e.g., search volume, competition, products category). Obviously, this exercise must be repeated every month or so as rankings change quite fast, especially on SEO.

Another thing I am discussing with marketers are the keywords that generate lots of views in the SERPs but little in the way of clicks; it’s always good to try to improve performances on those since they generate lots of searches.

Of course, this report could be improved if we had the conversion data in it, but we can’t ask for the moon.

This seems simple to implement, but why is it so hard to get it done for most of advertisers? The key of a successful integration is to have a holistic approach between the search marketing teams themselves. It’s critical to have the SEO and SEM teams working closely together. This has been pointed out in many articles, but still we can’t stress it enough. I see lots of SEO and SEM teams that do not sync up and duplicate efforts due to conflicts of interest or the way their organizations are structured.

To maximize online success, both teams need to sit down, exchange keywords lists, look at this report together, and draw some key actions that will both do from sharing information and helping each other. Together we work stronger.

Regular meetings to sync up will help and allow a productive exchange of information. From those meetings, SEO teams can learn about the ad copy testing results, as well as landing pages used by one or the other. Why not include top-performing ad-copy snippets into common SEO elements (like the <title>, meta-description, on-page copy)? You can test sitelinks in paid search. While it’s very difficult to make Google pick the best organic sitelinks, you still have the option to demote ones you don’t like in Google Webmaster Tools. We have tried this approach with some clients and it’s working very well.

One thing I would also pay attention to is potential cannibalization of one of the other. This may not be bad for the overall business, but one channel can see a performances decrease.  Again, if the paid and organic teams know what each other is doing, it’s easier to explain this internally.

Why not starting using this report? And remember to take it one step at a time. Start with having both SEO and SEM teams work together and report results holistically. Then try several tests using data from the report and go from there.  Good luck!

*Source: Source: http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/part-one-adwords-paid-organic-report-results