Paid Search & SEO - Best Friends, Not Enemies

Wednesday, July 19, 2023


Written by

Senior Paid Media Specialist

How paid search & SEO can work together

We often see articles comparing Paid Search and SEO or pitting them against each other, which should you invest in, pro’s and con’s etc. We don’t think this is the best approach when it comes to devising your digital marketing strategy. Paid Search and SEO should complement each other, and work together to achieve targets. 

We often see Paid Search and SEO teams work in silo, not sharing valuable insights and learnings. To put it simply, we don’t like this approach. We prefer to share research and insights, and have team wide visibility of what’s going on for our clients. This allows us to be more efficient with our time and budget, and identify any improvements or wins we wouldn’t have been aware of without cross team collaboration. Our clients benefit from efficiencies and the results generated. 

So, how do we work together? Here’s just 5 of the things that we collaborate on;

1. New website pages / Category Expansions

Expanding the site to target more keywords is good SEO practice, we want to ensure we’re able to rank for core keywords and having pages targeted towards these keywords with relevant content is key. 

When we’re advising on new pages to clients, we also consider how we can use these pages from a paid perspective, and also use paid search term data to inform us of how users are searching already and whether there’s any pages that would further improve our paid efforts. We recently identified category pages that although weren’t top priority from an organic perspective, would enable us to expand our search campaigns and reach new high intent keywords, and then over time we’d rank organically for this page too.

2. Keyword Research

Keyword research is the starting point for most paid and organic activity. Why double up on the work? We produce a KW research sheet between both teams, allowing us to get full insight into the keywords we should be prioritising both organically and paid for. We often use different KW tools, so this also gives a really well rounded view of KW competitiveness and average search volumes. We categorise keywords based on topic or category, as well as intent - this helps inform account structure for paid and gives insight into how users are searching.

3. Testing New Keywords

Ranking for a new keyword organically can be a long process, especially if competition is high. A great way to test the water and see what results a newly identified keyword can generate is to add it to your paid search activity. Paid campaigns can start running in a matter of hours after going through Google’s review process, much quicker than the months it can take for a page to rank organically.

Once you’re happy that you think the keyword is worth pursuing organically, you can leave paid activity running until you’re ranking where you need to be organically. If the keyword falls flat on paid, then it might be worth investing SEO time elsewhere.

On the flipside, you can also review historical paid keyword data to identify anything that’s performed well that isn’t capturing organic traffic currently, you can then look to include these as part of your SEO strategy. 

4. Brand Campaigns

To bid or not to bid, that is the question. The answer traditionally involves a well worded discussion between an SEO and a PPC, but we can all reap the rewards of a brand campaign with some careful consideration and paying attention to brand performance more holistically. 

Ads over the years have become more dominant in SERP’s, with Shopping and Search ads often taking everything above the fold, pushing organic results down. With competitors bidding on your brand too, it has left advertisers with little choice but to serve ads for their brand name, ensuring they are prominent in SERP’s and protecting their brand. 

This is often seen as a negative for SEO, with paid stealing brand traffic. 

However working together you can find a budget that works, and it’s possible to control the message on paid which isn’t as easy organically. It can also work in SEO’s favour to have a branded ad, for those users that scroll to organic listings, if they’ve already seen an ad it acts as a trust signal. Especially useful for smaller brands that don’t quite have the brand kudos that competitors may have.

5. Ad Copy

Using metrics like click through rate, we can identify what ad copy is resonating well with audiences across paid and then use this ad copy to inform on-page SEO efforts such as titles, meta’s and website copy. Making even small tweaks to these can lead to improved organic rankings. 

Key Takeaways

Drive efficiencies by collaborating and sharing learnings across paid and organic activity. Even just ensuring the wider account team has visibility on what’s being worked on and prioritised can lead to a new idea. 

Share research and reports, question each other and share ideas,, and ultimately work towards the same goal. Fixating on service specific goals can hinder wider account performance.