July 30, 2016: In many organizations, PPC and SEO projects are carried out by different teams. For example, one business might have an in-house SEO team, while outsourcing PPC to an external agency. Another might bring both tasks in-house, but in different departments with different budgets and supervising personnel. A third might give different agencies each task, believing — for better or worse — in a “best of breed” approach.

A certain degree of specialization can be expected where executive turf lines define budget boundaries. But there are strong reasons for unifying and integrating PPC and SEO efforts under one umbrella — in one single team — that can manage both sides at once. Why?

While search is growing more “semantic,” keyword data is still essential on both the paid and the organic side.

Keywords unify both disciplines: Keywords — the building blocks of search engine marketing — are common building blocks in both SEO and PPC. In PPC, keywords drive creative; in SEO, they inform site structure and content strategy. Keyword research identifies the terms, monthly traffic volume, and competitive status of business-driving queries. While search, in the era of Rankbrain, is growing more “semantic”  keyword data remains foundational — on both the paid and the organic side.

Keyword insights derived from the organic side need to be shared with the paid side, and vice versa. Having  a unified team in place allows much closer coordination of keyword-related research and implementation.

Search behavior is reactive and responsive (this is why search is often characterized as a “demand-harvesting” medium). Organic and paid campaigns influence each others’ performance. Other media (including offline media) drive search behavior as well. Paid campaigns drive traffic, and SEO-driven improvements to one’s site may make paid campaigns cheaper to run, because the search engine algorithms reward advertisers whose destination URLs are optimized in the sense of being relevant, fast-loading, and “sticky.”

Nielsen Research found that when a brand name appeared in both organic and paid search results, the brand attracted 92% of total clicks. (When the brand was mentioned only in organic results, the brand got only 60% of clicks).

Because the target of both PPC and SEO marketing efforts is the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), it’s important for marketers to understand how paid and organic listings work together on the SERP. For example, in a recent study by Nielsen Research, the importance of coordinating paid and organic SEM campaigns was demonstrated. When a brand name appeared in both organic and paid search results, the brand attracted 92% of total clicks. When the brand was mentioned only in organic results, the brand only got 60% of clicks.

There is clear synergy between organic and paid performance on search engine results pages. Staying on top of these interaction effects — and making the most of them — is easier with one group overseeing all search-oriented marketing efforts. Once an interaction effect is identified, the opportunity can be maximized through testing (for example, pulse testing, which examines the effect that selectively reducing PPC on SERPs with good organic position will have on conversions).

Shared Metrics: Leveraging the insights gained from both PPC and SEO channels won’t just benefit your search campaigns; these insights can inform all your inbound and outbound campaigns. Paid campaign data, when correlated with organic usage data from site analytics, provides a more complete picture of how searchers are experiencing your online properties than can be acquired from inspecting data from each discipline by itself.

The metrics used in PPC and SEO to establish KPIs in both disciplines are virtually identical — only the method of acquisition (whether the click is bought or not) differs. Data from each discipline allows you to put together a complete picture — to “get inside the mind of the searcher” in effect. Once you’ve done this, you can extend these insights outward to other teams, which may include e-mail, social media, PR, or other groups.

Marketing Is More Efficient Without “Silos:” “Siloization” – the process by which information becomes isolated in different departments/groups/divisions – makes marketing – even when it’s driven by the best technology, slow, reactive, and ineffective. Some degree of siloization is inevitable, even in the most agile organizations (because of the natural, but regrettable human tendency to hoard information). But unless information is shared to the right people so that they can act on it in a timely fashion, this information is practically worthless. Putting PPC and SEO groups in separate silos rarely makes sense, because the exchange of information is so vital for identifying and exploiting opportunities.

Putting PPC and SEO groups in separate silos rarely makes sense, because the exchange of information is so vital for identifying and exploiting opportunities.

Data Quality and Quantity: A vexing issue for many marketers doing either PPC or SEO (but not managing and coordinating the two together) is that it can be difficult to develop enough statistically reliable data significant from organic traffic alone. While the quality of the captured organic data may be high enough to be actionable, the quantity may not be sufficient to make informed decisions. On the other hand, data acquired from the search engines themselves as a result of a paid campaign is both high quality and (if the spend is large enough) of sufficient quantity to act upon. It is essential that both organic and paid data be available to each team to act upon in a coordinated way. In anintegrated team scenario, this sharing of data is automatic.

There are many natural material efficiencies which come into play when SEO and PPC are orchestrated together. Interaction effects may be better managed, changes on one side that affect performance can be anticipated and adjusted on the other side smoothly, and key players on each side are familiar with Key Progress Indicators on the other side. Removing unnecessary organizational silos makes your entire marketing organization stronger, more efficient, and more nimble. Ultimately, this increased efficiency translates into greater Net Search Profit over time.

If your organization happens to have your PPC and SEO groups located in separate silos, our advice is to do everything possible to make sure that their efforts are precisely aligned through shared reporting, communications channels, and sharing of business objectives. While it’s not necessary (or desirable) to have the same people doing the work, it’s essential that there be intimate awareness — at the leadership level — of all the initiatives taken on by the corresponding group. Then and only then is it possible for all the moving parts to move smoothly together in one, integrated SEM marketing machine.

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PPC and SEO: Better Together
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PPC and SEO: Better Together
Common sense, plus in-field experience, strongly suggests that PPC and SEO should be accomplished by one -- not two -- teams.
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