In the world of marketing, it’s easy to separate out the different ways of reaching your target audience, says Adthena regional director Steve Anderton.
This is especially true when it comes to digital marketing, where breakneck developments in the industry have forced people to become specialists in order to master their own particular area. There are two main areas where brands have typically focused their efforts.
The first, search engine optimisation (SEO), goes back to the earliest days of search engines like Google, when companies developed smart tactics and ways to game the system, to make sure their own pages came up top of the search listings.
As the web, and they way people use it, has changed, search engines have become ever harder to manipulate, forcing SEO techniques to evolve as well, into a complex discipline focused on improving the quality of results, with high-value content and reputation-boosting links.
The other key area is pay-per-click advertising (PPC), the method whereby companies pay in a blind auction for their adverts to appear at the top of search results. This is done by preparing ads, and choosing which search terms they want these ads to appear for, bidding on these terms against competitors, with a complex system of spend and ad quality affecting where the ad ultimately appears.
Over the years, ads have grown increasingly complex with extensions such as images, reviews and contact details, while many marketers rely on competitive intelligence to search out the most successful keywords and monitor rival’s infringement on their own brand.
While these two digital marketing disciplines have diverged, research has shown that brands can derive huge benefits from working to combine the two areas, whether it be achieving higher traffic, greater activation, or improving return on investment.
Communication is Key
It’s fairly common practice, especially in larger businesses, for marketing departments to split up their digital teams along SEO and PPC lines. In fact, in some companies, these teams can be based in different offices, or even outsourced to entirely separate agencies, making for some pretty big gaps to try and overcome.
The first step for any firm looking to bridge these gaps is to open the lines of communications, with a coordinated set of goals as the main objective. While the individual outcomes each side may be chasing can be specific, the overall targets, ultimately the aims of the business, are one, and SEO and PPC teams can work collectively to deliver them.
Big Up the Brand
Research into the shared impact of PPC and SEO shows that many brands have a lopsided approach to their search engine marketing (SEM), with one side becoming dominant, while the other languishes behind.
It’s a symptom of a lack of communication, but there is typically one area where the keywords possess a strong share of voice in both PPC and SEO – a business’ own brand terms.
While it may seem straightforward that you perform well on your own brand terms, this isn’t necessarily a given, and in the cut-throat world of SEM, there’s no room for complacency. In PPC, marketers need to ensure they’ve covered their terms comprehensively and regularly check the cost they’re paying for each click (their CPCs).
A higher rate could show they’re battling someone else in the blind bidding process. Investing in competitive intelligence can also help show who may be competing on your brand terms.
In SEO, it’s key to make sure all metadata around the content is in place, including all descriptions, images, tags; each has a place in ensuring the site is visible and ranked appropriately. A brand is intangible, but it’s also one of the most valuable things a business owns.
Think ahead, but not too far
When the lines of communication have opened between PPC and SEO, and they have common objectives in mind, the two sides can begin to collaborate.
In the PPC market, the constantly-moving list of competitors, the scope of the ad copy being used, and the blind auction system as a whole, means that in order to stay ahead, marketers have to act fast and move quickly. Being able to react to changes and seize the initiative when the opportunity comes is key to achieving any success.
SEO teams, often working with legacy sites, have traditionally been playing the long game – carefully curating their content, monitoring links, tailoring their quality and adapting to the incremental updates of the major search engines. Both sides can learn a lot from the other, taking on another point of view that can inform and benefit their own side – PPC can learn the value of sustained campaigns and continuity, while SEO can pick up the art of adaptability.
Marketing is a broad church and there are many niches which brands can explore to find their own successes. However, when it comes to search engine marketing, specialisation can help you know more, but it is collaboration that can help you achieve more.