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SEO and SEM should work together, right? We all know that we don’t market in a vacuum, and there is a ton of value for those of us in search to collaborate and dominate our clients’ most important results pages.
But let’s be honest, there’s a divide between paid and organic search, and it goes beyond the little “ad” labels at the top of the page. We all talk about making your marketing work together, but most SEOs and PPC-ers don’t know when and where to tee-up an opportunity to the other side of the SERP, and it’s costing us -- and our clients -- a lot.
That’s why we put together these guides. We wanted to cover some scenarios in which it makes sense to put our marketing heads together to just plain win.
In this article, we’re talking to anyone who has anything to do with SEM. That’s right, PPC-ers, marketers of ads, and anyone who loves those Google SERP Ads, this one’s for you. We’re going to outline areas of SEM that SEO may be able to help improve. If your focus is already SEO, feel free to also check out our other guide to common SEO problems that PPC can help remedy.
Non-brand searches and conversions are always incremental to your business and can help expose your brand to a new audience. Investing in non-brand paid search is the way companies grow their paid search presence and can help isolate strengths and weaknesses.
However, depending on the industry, non-brand paid media can be an expensive task! How can you break through the noise on the SERP and start to become relevant for key non-brand terms? This is where your SEO experts come in.
Building your non-brand organic search presence starts with a simple question - are you writing about your product or service in a way that your customers are searching for it? For example, if you’re a company that is selling rhinoplasty services, are you solely using the word “rhinoplasty” across your site? Or are you interspersing this with the words “nose job”? Both should be present on your site in the form of pages or content pieces, but take a look at this trend graph below that shows the relevance of each term over the last 5 years in the US:
Diagnose Poor Performing Landing Pages
Not all landing pages are equal. Your campaigns might be generating high click through rates, but low conversions - your landing page is too much of a friction point. But what exactly is going on? SEOs are more than your rank trackers, obsessed with the first page, they’ve got some development chops too.
Most SEOs have a grasp on UX, content generation, and HTML, meaning they can most likely tell you what’s not working on your landing page. Some common issues with landing pages that we’ve seen in the past include:
- The page speed is slow, which could cause people to bounce before they even get to the site.
- The copy doesn’t match what’s in the ad text, causing confusion for the user.
- There’s no clear call to action.
- Something is broken and doesn’t function as intended - this is most common with forms.
Increasing Competition on High-Value Terms
You’ve set up your campaigns and you were crushing it for months… then your competitors got wise, increasing your cost. Without blowing your budget, there are ways SEO can help you compete on these high-value terms.
Whether it’s a high value term or a competitive comparison, SEOs can assist in the creation and optimization of pages that could help competitive keywords rank higher to cover the paid search performance.
Plummeting Conversions After Site Updates
This is a really common problem, and it’s not just an SEM problem. Sometimes, after site updates, conversions trickle to a halt or are cut off immediately, and there’s so much to check - are your ads approved? Are we getting beaten out by competitors? What’s happening on the SEM side? If you can’t find the answer, you might need to call in the SEO troops.
This is the most common reason SEOs get brought into the SEM fold. From poor user experience to missing pages or pages with canonicals, SEOs can diagnose high level issues that may be impacting the way your ads function. Things an SEO might check are:
- New redirects and 404 pages
- If there are any rendering issues that’s stopping important content from being seen
- Robots instructions for any instructions for AdBot
- UX elements
- Is there a new pop up that’s stopping people from converting?
- Did the checkout process change?
- Is there a change in structure?
New Ad Sets Based On SEO Research
Your keyword list is good, it’s doing really well, actually. Your client comes to you and asks “what’s next? And don’t say more budget!” Time to take a look at what you’re targeting and see if there’s any creative ads you could create, but this time, you’ll have a little help.
Your SEO team also does a tonne of keyword research. SEO keyword research is based on what the website could be, and what competitive industry terms are the goal. There may be some SEM gold hidden in your SEO keyword research, waiting to be bid on.
Consistent Performance With Room To Grow
We get it, you’re absolutely crushing your SEM strategy, and are keen for more budget, none of the above may apply to you. However, an SEO’s point of view may uncover new opportunities
If that’s the case, there could still be opportunity to improve overall performance from search. Odds are, unless you're a dominant industry player, the cost of your paid search campaign could always improve. That’s where SEO can help.
Targeting non-brand search terms with optimized content is a great way to improve rankings and reduce cost on high-competition SERPs. You can target low-funnel, informational and movement intent keywords in areas where your current SEM strategy costs just too much.
SEM and SEO should work together to bring traffic to a website. That’s it. That’s all. Hard stop.
The more your website can show on valuable SERPs, the more likely it is for someone to click on it. A holistic approach to SEO and SEM gives you that edge on competitive, stalled, or even high-ranking terms. And that sums to more users and, ideally, more revenue.
Hopefully these scenarios can kick-start some cross-team conversations, and we can come together, paid and organic, to start to win in search.