At SMX – West a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to present in the session “Better Together: SEO & SEM.” I’m happy to share the third part of my blog series covering that presentation here. As you learned in Part 1 and Part 2 , SEO & SEM are already working together. In this post, I’ll give you three ways in which you can use that to your advantage to save time and get more out of your search optimizations.

Co-Optimization Tactic #1: Prioritize SEO optimizations using SEM data

If you’re running an eCommerce site, you probably have a hand full of category pages, two dozen sub-categories, and at least several hundred product detail pages. How do you prioritize and focus your SEO efforts to get the most out of each hour of effort invested? By reviewing your paid search data, you can match up high-search-volume keywords (using the AdWords Keyword Planner) with actual performance data for keywords you’re targeting via PPC. High-volume but expensive keywords are a great place to focus SEO energy. Invest now in narrow keyword focus pages and develop high-quality content to support your new keyword focus areas.

After this initial investment, you should begin to see rankings & visibility improvement in three to six months. This improvement will help supplement the low impression share you’ve had to maintain in paid search to stay profitable. The added bonus here is that you’re likely to see a boost in paid search CTR as your page climbs the organic rankings from the incremental benefit of using SEO & SEM together.

Co-Optimization Tactic #2: Use a single project to benefit SEO & SEM

Review your SEO & SEM project plans. Are there tasks in each that are closely related? If so, get the teams together to share their goals and turn those duplicate tasks into a single dual-purpose project. For example, if you have an eCommerce site where the product description on the site is pulled into the shopping feed, you’ve got a killer dual project.

Your body copy optimizations will not only improve the ranking factors for search engine bots on the organic side, they’ll serve as the core product details in the feed. One point of cross-over in this example: the H1/Title Tag serves as the Product Title in the feed. Here a well-researched keyword mapping will inform the H1/Title Tag and, because of the presence in the product feed, helps boost SEO and Google/Bing Shopping visibility. This same logic goes for the product description. A longer, more informative and more descriptive product description will help Google’s Shopping and organic algorithm best understand what the product is and match that to user queries. You’ll be able to use the quick response time of Google Shopping adjustments to test the impact of your product description and product title changes so you can determine the most effective language without the slow, “wait and see” nature of organic search measurement.

Bottom line – find two birds you can kill with one stone.

Co-Optimization Tactic #3: Improve search conversion rate

While this appears not to be obvious to many marketers, searchers are searching. Their action of clicking on a paid listing vs. an organic listing in the SERP does not change their intent. Recent changes to SERP layouts make it very difficult for the average user to differentiate between paid & organic results. Therefore, the listing of their choice is merely the one that is either the first highly relevant result they see, or the most interesting result. Why, then, as search marketers, are we treating search as two different channels, especially once they hit the site? It’s important to remember that there is a single intent here. With this in mind we have twice the reason to optimize and, in many cases, twice the data to work with as we test conversion rate improvements.

Once you are able to see SEO & SEM as a single channel, you can study the user’s path to conversion from search to purchase. At 3Q Digital, we’ve been able to evaluate client site messaging, look & feel, conversion flow and branding through full-scale usability studies. Using on-site surveys, Google Analytics, heat mapping, and in-person testing, we’ve been able to gather together the necessary data to recommend site improvements that not only benefit search, but overall site performance across all channels. In one instance we were able to grow conversions (store locators) by 89%! Read more about the Relax the Back case study here.

SEO & SEM can work beautifully together. Once you get your teams working together, you’ll be able to make a larger impact on the bottom line by sharing data and most efficiently attacking project management. To review the full deck I presented at SMX – West 2015, check out this link.

1 Comment

  1. Chris Mackenzy April 20th, 2015

    One way or the other these both overlap each other. Being an online marketing expert one cannot adopt any one of the them to leave the other. In order to get the maximum out of it, a number of things work in parallel such as SEO, SEM, SMO and sometimes PPC as well.

Leave a Comment

Caitlin Halpert
Caitlin Halpert is an Account Director at 3Q Digital. She has worked in digital marketing since 2011 and held positions at and iSearchMedia before joining the 3Q team in March 2014. Caitlin graduated from Dartmouth College and is a native of Vermont.