An integrated approach: From SEO to PPC and beyond
Columnist Chris Liversidge shares highlights and insights from two industry events where integrated search marketing was a hot topic this year.
For most businesses, the summer season means a slow-down in industry events — but for digital marketers, there is no rest! My company was out in force at both The Turing Festival and BrightonSEO this year, both of which represent fantastic forums for knowledge-sharing and networking.
Reflecting on what were hugely insightful conferences, I’d like to run over themes that stood out to me — and how digital marketers can put insights drawn from them into practice.
Attendees of both conferences were spoiled for choice: Speakers from the world’s largest and most inspiring companies, including Google, Moz and Skyscanner, headlined stages. Members of our paid search team were particularly wowed by the session delivered by Wil Reynolds, the founder of Seer Interactive.
Breaking down silos
Wil Reynolds’s background commanded the audience’s attention from the get-go with a story that is still relatively unusual in the marketing world. Originally an SEO expert who turned to PPC, Reynolds suggested that the notion of switching between elements of search marketing shouldn’t be unusual in 2017, but that it unfortunately still is.
Typically, search professionals specialize in either paid or organic search and rarely move from one to the other. However, combining these skill sets can strengthen a marketing team and add value to the services it delivers to its clients.
I think that’s an important lesson for marketers, whether agency or client-side. Integrated marketing strategies are more effective than siloed efforts, and we have no shortage of case studies to that effect here at QueryClick.
Describing how he broke out of his own silo and combined SEO with PPC, Reynolds highlighted how the two areas of search complement each other — a message that resonates with me personally as a marketing professional who recognizes that an integrated approach delivers the strongest results.
A holistic approach
In a modern digital marketing world, however, the merging of skills goes far beyond mastering both SEO and PPC. The way people consume content has drastically changed over the last decade. The rise in mobile media consumption has led to a diverse range of content platforms, and marketers now have extensive opportunities to tailor their messaging and reach their target audiences.
To ensure consistency across platforms, today’s brands demand an integrated approach with a cross-skilled team that breaks down silos, produces more meaningful data and offers them more bang for their buck.
Running organic and paid search campaigns simultaneously (with a single point of truth in reporting) allows integrated marketing teams to define the keywords that have the highest conversion rate and therefore determine the themes that will optimize a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy. To work effectively, however, it must be rolled out across SEO, PPC, social media, PR and conversion rate optimization (CRO), with each team working closely together in order to achieve the brand’s end goals.
Bridging the gap
Of course, there are risks to adopting an integrated approach. There can be a huge disconnect between PPC and SEO campaigns, for example, and work must be done to bridge the gap between both disciplines. Ensuring that the work of the SEO and PPC teams complement each other, and that they can yield valuable data and insights for that work, should result in campaigns that are more targeted and relevant to the brand’s audience.
I’ve written before about how you can integrate paid and organic search behaviour in a blended “Halo” report, and I think it’s just one example where integrating channels provides significant insight value to both channels.
Of course, creating an integrated strategy is an art form as much as it is a science, and without the appropriate tools at hand, it’s not always possible. Power BI, a data visualization tool which can pull deeper integrated organic and paid metrics together, can help marketers present a visual representation of PPC and SEO activity live, allowing both teams to move away from working and reporting in silos and allowing an instantly accessible “single point of truth.”
Get the full picture
During the conclusion of his session at The Turing Festival, Reynolds pointed out that it is important to recognize that SEO and PPC look at the world differently. He described PPC professionals as being akin to “creative accountants,” working to meticulous precision, and suggested that SEOs are more like “poker players,” keeping their cards close to their chest.
Although the skills and mindsets of these specialists are very different, combining both organic and paid results shows the full SEM picture and allows digital marketers to deliver stronger results to their clients. This, in turn, informs the strategy for the whole digital marketing team, from PR to social. If mastered, a data-led, integrated approach is the holy grail of modern search marketing.
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