Whether on Google, Bing, Amazon or other search engines: Organic and paid results fight equally for the attention of the users on the search results pages. It is obvious that search engine optimization (SEO) and advertising (SEA) should be considered holistically. But what are the concrete consequences of using it?
It primarily depends on the strategy that the individual brands are pursuing. In our view, there are three scenarios in the use of holistic search marketing, which we would like to demonstrate using the example of the Google world. Before we make any strategic considerations, however, we need to consider the interactions between the two marketing disciplines.
Both a search engine advertising manager and an SEO consultant are interested in high-performance websites with content that optimally meet the needs of the users. And both sides bring complementary skills, know-how and experience to achieve this goal.
The SEO view: content creation for search engines and users
The production of website content lies with the SEOs. First and foremost, you try to build a page so that it can be found by search engines and appears as high as possible on the search results page for relevant terms. The hard SEO currency is organic ranking.
How good a page really is from an SEO point of view will therefore only become apparent after several months. Because it takes about half a year for the website to achieve its full performance. Only then can it be reliably assessed how the search engine rates the page, where the page is organically ranked and whether it needs to be improved.
With regard to the user experience, which is closely linked to organic success, the SEO manager, with the help of Google Analytics / Google Tag Manager, has access to values earlier. Quality notices such as length of stay, bounce rate, scroll depth and the click behavior of the site visitors can be viewed there. Such key figures give us a feeling of whether the user needs on our pages are met.
The Search Engine Advertising perspective: high-performance keywords and landing pages
The search engine advertising specialist also strives to provide the user with a concrete answer to his search query and to satisfy his needs. If a user googles for a cheesecake, for example, they will be dissatisfied if a quiche Lorraine appears on the landing page - even though it is also a cake with cheese. In order to evaluate the relevance of the landing page and thus also the user experience, Google Ads offers the search engine advertising manager with the "user experience with the landing page" an important indicator that is not available to the SEO consultant in this form.
Google Ads shows at keyword level whether the user experience is below average, average or above average. If the user experience with the landing page is rated by Google as below average, then it should be optimized or a more suitable website linked.
According to Google, the user experience with the landing page is an estimate of how relevant and useful the landing page is for the user who clicks on an ad. Google does not reveal the exact components from which it is calculated.
However, the search engine provides clues: For example, it is considered whether the content of the landing page matches the advertised keyword. Usability elements and loading times also play a role. Overall, the "user experience with the landing page" is a helpful value
SEO and Search Engine Advertising can inspire each other
The user experience is an indication that the SEO team also helps with page optimization - long before the success of a page can be reliably assessed via the ranking. While the user intention in the case of cheesecake is obvious, there are always situations in everyday life in which our search engine advertising results provide previously hidden findings from which we can learn in SEO.
Conversely, we also benefit from the know-how and work of our SEO colleagues at search engine advertising. Because as I said, content optimization is in the hands of SEO. The better the content of a page is tailored to and fulfills a specific user need, the higher the likelihood of a better user experience and a higher quality factor, which in turn can have a positive effect on the click costs in search engine advertising.
So all parties benefit from strong websites: organic ranking (SEO), campaign performance (SEA) and, above all, users. Three strategies for holistic search marketing result from these interactions.
1. Maximum presence through full throttle in Search Engine Advertising & SEO
With strategically important keywords, it makes sense to show presence in both organic and paid ranking. Competition is suppressed, the user cannot ignore the brand's offer. An ideal scenario that naturally takes money (advertising budget in SEA) and time (resources in SEO). However, as described, both measures can benefit from each other and achieve better results faster in holistic processing than in isolated versions.
2. Cost savings in search engine advertising through strong SEO
In the second scenario, search engine advertising costs can be saved for keywords where a brand is strong in the organic ranking. The idea behind it is that the paid traffic shifts to the prominent, organic entry. An exciting idea, which unfortunately is not always feasible. Because competitors can dig us up from users via paid entries.
The romantic idea that users consciously avoid paid results and wait for the first organic entry usually does not stand up to the harsh reality. Organic results are increasingly "below the fold" in the mobile sector in particular. That is, it has to be scrolled to find the first organic entry. The convenience leads many users to avoid this and prefer to click on the ads - especially since many searchers probably do not even know the difference between paid and organic entries.
In the following example we can see that at the time of the search there was no advertisement for the keyword "cheesecake" and an organic entry from the chef appears directly in the field of view (left). To get to the first organic hit when searching for "shoes", a user has to scroll far (right).
Caution should be exercised with the "cost saving" strategy, the activities of the competitors and the traffic should always be observed with a diligent eye. As long as the organic entry largely absorbs the clicks paid, this is of course a best case in which the search engine advertising budget can be shifted to other keywords or saved. However, as soon as a competitor bids on the keyword "cheesecake" to stay in our example, the chef will probably lose a lot of the free traffic.
3. Fast launch of new topics and pages
It usually takes several months for new pages to develop their full SEO power and have a chance for top positions. This can be too long if a company wants to communicate an important, current topic. These can be white spots, for example: topics for which there is high demand but little competition takes place on the search engines. Above all, big brands can benefit here, because the trust of their sites gives them the chance to displace small domains that already deal with the topic. For example, a supermarket could react quickly to generate attention for its latest product, the baking mix for a "vegan cheesecake".
The trend keywords can be successfully filled via search engine advertising and then covered over the long term via SEO. The nice thing about the story: The insights of search engine advertising can flow continuously into the SEO optimization of the landing page as described above. If the page has achieved a top position in the organic ranking, you can consider reducing or suspending the search engine advertising budget.
Holistic reporting via automated dashboards
The monitoring of SEO and search engine advertising rankings naturally takes place using different tools. In the Google cosmos, for example, SEOs work with the Search Console to monitor organic success. The search engine advertising specialists, however, move in Google Ads. In order to bring both results together and to keep an eye on the rankings efficiently, new solutions have to be found. One option is to export the data via the API interface. search engine advertising and SEO key figures are then merged and visualized, for example via the Google Data Studio.
In this way, the results can be quickly viewed on automated dashboards and relationships can be tracked without constantly switching back and forth between the two systems. Because one thing should be clear: With all the advantages that result from the holistic approach, the coordination work between SEO and SEA teams also costs time.
Is holistic search marketing worth it?
To come back to our initial question of whether holistic search marketing is worthwhile, the answer is yes. However, how the benefit for companies is reflected depends very much on the respective situation. Depending on the objective, companies can expand their dominance on the search results pages of search engines, improve overall visibility across all product areas or even allocate budgets more efficiently.
It is questionable whether SEA should be avoided for reasons of cost in times when organic results on mobile devices are increasingly shifting "below the fold". In most cases, it makes more sense to combine the skills and knowledge from both departments in order to achieve optimal results.
If we combine our knowledge and reliable data from both disciplines, in order to achieve the common goal, this results in an optimal user experience. Holistic search marketing then leads to high-quality pages and campaigns that satisfy a clear user need - which has a positive effect on the organic rankings and the performance of our SEA campaigns.