Unifying SEO and SEM: An integrated strategy

Written on 05 October, 2015 by Verity Meagher
Categories: Search Engine Optimisation | Tags: keywords, marketing, online marketing, pay per click, ppc, search engine optimisation, sem, seo

Traditionally, marketers have run search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) strategies side by side. But if you want to see a better return on investment, it might be time to unify the two. By integrating these two important marketing strands, you can allow one to inform the other and provide a much healthier, more holistic campaign.

A good SEO campaign is focused on discovering the best ways to help a webpage rank well organically, while SEM concentrates on identifying the best keywords for your dollars when looking at paid advertising opportunities. It’s not unusual for businesses to run these two strategies separately, however the two disciplines are so naturally complementary that when carefully merged, results can improve for both.

How to unite SEO and SEM

Start by opening up the lines of communication between the two departments and compare the areas each is working on. You’re likely to find that there is significant overlap in their remits – and these areas of agreement are the ideal place to begin the process.

For keyword campaigns to be truly successful, they need to be supported by both SEO and SEM. Use your web analytics packages and your search management platform to identify your biggest hitters, and look for ways that one can support the other.

If you have SEM keywords that perform well, ensure you have a perfectly optimised landing page for your paid traffic. Additionally, use your SEM keywords to drive people to landing pages that are failing to perform via SEO alone – as an added bonus, high traffic and low bounce rates can improve SEO rankings.

Also look for areas in which your two campaigns don’t overlap, but probably should. If your SEM team has identified a keyword that drives significant traffic to your site that isn’t currently targeted by your SEO, be sure to capitalise on the opportunity. By the same logic, if you’re converting well with a keyword via SEO, it’s worth experimenting to see if you can capture additional revenue by expanding your paid keywords.

The big benefits of unification

A great way to capitalise on the unification of the two strands is to use your SEO campaign to subsidise the high costs of competitive SEM keywords. Identify keywords that consistently generate traffic and conversations, but that typically don’t have a good pay-per-click return on investment. These are the words that should be absorbed into your SEO strategy, allowing you to capture the clicks at a lower cost and freeing up the SEM team to find more profitable supporting keywords or phrases to focus on.

By setting up your SEO and SEM strategies to support each other, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary holes in your campaigns and maximise the performance of each. For the biggest benefits, ensure this is an ongoing process – keep the channels and communication open to keep up with the rapid changes that affect keyword performance.

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of SEO and SEM strategies in order to see how they can work together. Could an SEO and SEM marriage benefit your business?