Fostering synergism between your company’s SEO and PPC teams can have immediate, tangible benefits for your search visibility. The fact that this will subsequently improve your marketing efforts’ ROI only further highlights the importance of generating seamless coordination between these two vital teams.
Insurance for the Future: PLAs and Local Search
Planning for the future is always a necessary consideration when it comes to digital marketing, especially when dealing with Google’s tools. The search engine has initiated drastic changes in the past, and seems primed to do so again in the near future. One particularly significant change was the conversion of its free product listing ads (PLAs) into paid shopping ads in 2012.
Another, more recent example of Google’s drive to monetise was its short-lived introduction of paid local listings in 2014. Historically, local listings have appeared as organic search results in a text block and a corresponding map on the right hand bar of the SERP.
But starting midway through last year, even some local businesses were prevented from popping up on results pages for free.
Google limited its paid local listings test to certain areas and appeared to revert back to business as usual soon afterwards, yet the fact that the trial even took place suggests that Google will likely go all in on monetising organic search listings in the near future, possibly as early as this year.
As Wordstream explains: “Google gives SEOs a cool way to stand out in the SERP, then takes it away and/or makes it pay to play.” With the search engine prepared to change up the rules of the game at a moment’s notice – and subsequently throw your marketing strategies for a loop – it pays to remain aware of the potential for these changes and plan accordingly.
Only investing in organic search techniques and campaigns also makes for risky business, because just like with PPC, the search giant can take as quickly as it gives, leaving your organic search rank plummeting with just one small tweak from Google’s point of view.
The Benefits of Integrating Search Efforts
Building the link between paid and organic search teams offers so much potential to stand out from the competition, as well as valuable insurance against future upgrades to Google’s sponsored and organic algorithms.
As our white paper, entitled Marketing Effectiveness: SEO & PPC Integration, explores at length, there are still many companies across a range of industries that take the last mover approach: they stick to their organic or paid search efforts and ignore the other side almost entirely.
But what happens when someone else moves first? How long these companies take to react will determine the damage done to a given firm’s online presence. In these cases, it pays to be preemptive and insure against any setbacks or disasters that come with doing business online. Let’s take a look at how a few industries are striking this balance – or not.
The white paper showed the finance industry to be highly polarised, with most companies sticking valiantly to either paid or organic tactics. Deeper analysis revealed that, appropriately, industry leader MoneySavingExpert relied almost entirely on SEO for its business, while PPC could call Compare And Save its most loyal supporter, with high paid activity yet almost no organic activity whatsoever.
Organic / Paid Keyword Sharing
Looking at Tesco Bank (a balanced user of both paid and organic search), it’s interesting to note the split in its keyword usage: the company targeted different keywords in each channel and focused on either paid or organic – but never both – for each individual search term.
Whether this was a strategic move or the result of poor communication between the two departments is unclear. What is certain, however, is that the rules of the game should be fully understood before they are broken – otherwise, the results could be disastrous.
The SEO and PPC strategies for American Express and Barclaycard appear to be the least integrated. While both make use of paid and organic search, the keyword distribution shows a scattered approach to capturing this traffic.
This provides an opportunity for American Express and Barclaycard to maximise their visibility and awareness to users searching for credit cards, by integrating their PPC and SEO activities and creating a well-balanced SEM strategy.
Any member of the finance sector stands to gain a significant advantage over its peers by increasing collaboration between its paid and organic marketing divisions – especially as so many companies remain uncommitted to this sort of interdepartmental cooperation.
Information can flow in both directions, and keyword research done in either division can boost both parties’ results.
Across the board, the travel industry makes much better use of the vital balance between organic and paid search than its counterparts in the financial sector, with most companies utilising an even mix of SEO and PPC to share their products with the web community.
CheapFlights and Skyscanner were the two companies with the most integrated strategies. Upon deeper analysis, we discovered that all of the companies’ paid search terms had earned at least 10% organic keyword traffic.
This sort of collaboration has likely established the foundation of their overall success and offers a perfect example of organic keyword research translating into PPC results.
The largest company in the group, easyJet, nonetheless sat at the bottom of the pile for overall SOV. The airline gained less than 2% of its traffic through paid search, and none of their successful organic terms showed up in their paid campaign – all of which points to zero communication between their PPC and SEO departments.
Although the travel peer group exhibited more tight-knit integration than the finance group, major gaps in the competitive landscape remain, all of which the back runners could minimise with ease if their marketing departments share information and intelligence with one another a bit more freely (or at all). The saddest thing is that they may not even know the simple, easily correctable reason for their failure
Are You Ready for a Change?
While there is no perfect solution to the changes Google may throw at advertisers in the coming months and years, your company must be ready to capitalise on the fickle nature of the search engine’s algorithms.
Staying on top of your competitors is another key step – if a competitor’s strategy changes overnight, you need to know about it.
Still, you don’t want to dedicate valuable man hours constantly checking up on them, so let Adthena do it for you: our tool constantly monitors your entire search market in a dynamic fashion reporting on the sponsored search and organic behaviour of your competitors, watch for new entrants to the online marketplace, and keep you up-to-date on all activity.
Using the finance industry as a case in point, if one of your competitors finally decides to switch to an all-inclusive (PPC+SEO) marketing strategy, failing to react could lead to the immediate erosion of your online presence – a huge problem if you don’t even know about it until a week later.
Staying current on how your current strategy is performing and remaining aware of how it could evolve in the future will provide you with a recipe for success – but only if you have the right tools for the job.
(Main image credit: Carlos Maya/flickr)