Stronger together: the synergy between SEO and SEA

21 February 2022

Is your organisation thinking about search marketing? Are you finding it difficult to decide between SEO and SEA? Often the combination of SEO and SEA is presented as an either/or story, while in fact, they both perform better when they work together. There is always a possibility that there will be conflicts between Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Advertising, but they can also reinforce one another. Together they can help you to achieve your goals: optimal digital visibility and findability. The only difference is how you approach it. If you want to find out more, you are in the right place.

seo and sea

For those who think it's better to go all in, combining the strengths of SEO and SEA in one clear approach doubles the chance of a click. That's what displaying a website as an organic and a paid search result at the same time does for you.

Multi-level synergy

This is because the chance that a potential visitor clicks on your website increases as search results visibility increases. The effect is the same whether you achieve it through organic traffic, or through an eye-catching advertisement.

The SEO/SEA synergy has a direct impact on five levels:

1. Keywords
2. Quality Scores
3. Conversion optimisation
4. Visibility
5. Analyses

How do we achieve the magical effect of this synergy? That starts – as always – with the right keywords.

Which words sound true?

As an organisation, you already have experts who know which keywords get the most results in Google. Good keyword research is essential, whether you are working with SEO, SEA, or a combination of both. Whether it’s about leads or conversions, it is essential that you determine the strength and value of your keywords. It might be that some of these keywords are unsuitable for SEA but will work for SEO. Even if some keywords don’t succeed in the short term, they may well succeed in the long run.

Is there an extra dimension to the keywords synergy? The keyword focus you use to develop your page. Finally, Google determines what you 'may' rank for. So, publish a page with a specific keyword focus. After 2-3 months you can see for yourself which (longtail) combinations Google itself suggests as a good match. With that knowledge you can sharpen the focus of your SEA-strategy.

Analyse the power of your words

On the other hand, keywords that aren’t being used in paid campaigns, but do score well on an organic level, can have a place in the SEA approach. Then it comes down to looking at the costs and the competition. Based on that, make a choice which words you want to use for SEO and which words you use for SEA.

Tip: by testing the efficiency of certain keywords with SEA ads, you also gain useful insights for SEO. With SEA you can determine the performance of keywords with greater organic competition, or words that are essential for your organisation. You should give yourself time to experiment. You can always adjust your strategy.

Pages that are worth visiting

A high-quality web page is worth gold for SEA and SEO. If you want to use an intelligent mix of the SEA and SEO to achieve maximum results, it is always worth letting your pages shine, both substantively and technically.

A good landing page makes all the difference, especially for search marketing. By focusing on user-friendliness in the first place, you immediately lay the right foundations. Make sure that the page:

- has smooth navigation
- is fast loading
- is clear
- contains relevant and readable text
- contains the right keywords, in the places where they have most impact

A page that ticks all the boxes. It converts, keeps visitors engaged for longer and has a lower bounce rate – all positive signals for search engines.

Score with the human and the machine

Make it pleasant and easy for your visitor. The rewards are immediate; visitors to your page – after all, it is the visitor who can quickly and easily absorb the information that they seek that your website is all about. Then Google, based on good Quality Scores for your keywords.

From conversion to conversation

Who doesn't want to convert? And isn't that the goal of SEA, as opposed to SEO? Not quite, the knowledge filtered from SEA conversion statistics, in the short term, can also be of service in terms of SEO – and thus even optimise a number of conversions from SEO.

Have you noticed that an (exploratory) page converts well thanks to the results of a conversion-oriented advertisement? Then you immediately have a good recipe for the SEO optimisation of that page at your fingertips. The same goes for ads that score well and have a high CTR. Use the same description again for the page description that your target group will see popping up between the next search results.

Short- and long-term results

Where SEO is a continuous story – including assessments and adjustments – it takes a while before you see results, SEA provides you with important knowledge much faster. SEA gives you direct feedback on the keywords you promote. It helps you look beyond the keywords used by your target audience and goes deeper into their search intentions. This is always useful information for SEO.

The benefit from the synergy between the two is also financial. SEO is a long-term project, which you can shorten a little by betting on the right keywords at the first opportunity. SEA offers you that. The sooner your SEO strategy starts to pay off, the faster you can (significantly) reduce your SEA budget.

Perform even better in search results

SEO is everywhere and vital for the modern marketer. We will help you get started with this complete SEO guide.

SEO guide | iO

Visibility as an asset

Some web searchers resolutely refuse to click on ad extensions, others see them as the first – and best – answer to their search question. By embracing an integrated SEA and SEO strategy, you can guide both types of searchers to your landing page. The grand prize? In addition to your ad, you also end up at the top of the organic search. Then it becomes very difficult not to click on one of your links.

Your own piece of the web

Even if you are not yet at the top of the first page, a targeted combination of SEO and SEA offers significant advantages. Of course, it is also more likely that a visitor will look a page further in more search results, driven by a larger 'share of search' – you will benefit from the total volume of the visible presence of your pages in the search results.

With good levels of visibility, comes credibility. For example, for different SEO landing pages, do you focus on multiple keywords that are all connected to each other through a shared topic, such as your expertise, sector, or product category? Then there is a good chance that you will appear on multiple pages with different search results.

Psychologically, websites that are both visible on an organic level and with advertisements are regarded as being more professional and relevant than websites that are not. The power of repetition, in other words. This should interest you if you want to position your brand as a source of knowledge.

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Analyse more

Data is the new gold. SEA and SEO run on data and therefore continuously demand new analyses to be able to develop further. What could be better? Why doesn't a page score? Why does an ad have a low click-through rate? It always pays to compare the results of SEO and SEA.

Never enough data

Why? Because the individual results in the field of SEO and SEA are better understood together and when taken together, they provide more reliable information. When keywords score well for SEO and SEA, you can say with certainty that your landing page is already on the right track. Do keywords score well for only one of the two? Then it’s clear that there is a problem somewhere. That provides you with current and future insights.

Data from targeted campaigns can also provide you with important reminders of forgotten keywords or pages within individual SEO or SEA campaigns. And what Google Analytics tells you about one campaign can easily be at least as valuable for your next campaign.

Would you like to double the power of your web presence?

We are already convinced of the importance of the synergy between SEO and SEA. Have we convinced you too? We have the experts, experience, and data to take care of that. Feel free to contact us at iO. We would love to hear from you and talk about how we can help you to achieve your goals.

Jacob Eeckhout
Center of Excellence Lead Marketing

A representative of Generation Y, Jacob has always been interested in digital technology and the way it changes 'how we do things'. Marketing is a prime example of this change. Today, Jacob shares much of iO’s marketing knowledge to chase after ‘better’ marketing: the type that’s all about establishing authentic connections and solving real-life problems by way of innovative technologies.

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