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We all understand the importance of showing up in Google Search results. But, maybe you’ve been wondering ‘how do paid search and seo work together?’ We often get questions around the differences between Paid Search and SEO. Things like, how to differentiate your keyword strategy, what you should pay for and what you should focus on for organic rankings. We’re going to dive into how they differ and how they can work seamlessly together to boost your digital performance.

Understanding Paid Search
Think of it this way: You’re doing a Google search (ok or Bing – let’s not forget Bing), and text ads appear at the top… that look like organic results, but they say ‘sponsored’. That’s paid search and the company is paying for the placement. It’s the ‘quick win’ to online visibility, where businesses bid on keywords for targeted and measurable results. Quick, targeted, controllable and measurable – that’s the power of paid search.

Understanding SEO
Now, let’s talk about Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the art of making your website a search engine superstar organically. It involves optimizing your content, building quality backlinks, and playing nice with search engine algorithms. The beauty of SEO? Long-term organic traffic, more cost efficient rankings and the trust that builds over time.

Differences Between Paid Search and SEO
Paid search brings immediate results, while SEO plays the long game. Paid search operates on a pay-per-click basis, while SEO requires an upfront investment for longer-term, sustained returns. Control freak or laid-back? Paid search lets you dictate visibility instantly, while SEO requires online nurturing and has to be earned.

The Synergy Between Paid Search and SEO
The beauty in focusing on both PPC and SEO, is that you are able to have a holistic SERP (search engine results page) strategy. You can plan what’s most important to pay for and where you want to bring in traffic organically through your online content. They share common goals – increased visibility, traffic and conversions. Collaborative keyword research is the secret weapon, targeting different stages of the customer journey. Cross-channel data integration makes these very powerful when they’re working together. 

When Should You Pay for a Keyword and When Should You Not
We like to focus our paid efforts on keywords/phrases that are the ‘money’ terms for the business – these are high intent keywords that are more likely to drive conversions. These often center around the businesses products, with qualifiers that indicate intent to purchase. Sometimes it’s also terms/phrases that indicate someone might be shopping for an alternative to a competitor. Running competitive campaigns can be a strong part of your strategy, but you must consider the landing page experience and if you’re able to provide relevance to the competitor search query. If not, you’ll be paying a ton and end up with low performance for the campaign. Lastly, brand terms are often debated if they should be paid for or not, because typically the business owns their brand organically. We usually recommend at least a small portion of budget go towards brand as an always-on campaign, but if you are in a competitive space where your competitors are bidding on your brand term, then it is very important to have a strong brand campaign presence. As far as what to focus on organically… these can be broader terms related to your products and services that can capture people as they’re beginning their informational search and then you can bring them into more specifics as you build out supporting content focusing on long-tail searches. 

One approach to consider in the synergy between paid search and organic is to align on your first focus set of keywords and as your organic lift is able to take place, you can begin to shift budget paid into new areas and expand your overall search reach and impact. 

How to Grow Your Search Marketing Program
If you are curious on how you could optimize your paid search and SEO program, we’re happy to chat and see how we can help you grow your program this year. Our search marketing experts will review your current program, what your competitors are doing, and overall opportunity in the market and make recommendations on how you can improve your strategy and performance. You’ll walk away with key insights that you can take action on, and possibly a new team that you trust can help you take things to the next level. Interested? Fill out our form and we’ll schedule a time to talk quickly and get a plan going that will help you clearly understand how to evolve your search marketing program.