SEO and SEA are two strategies that all too often oppose … but in reality complementary. Here’s how to create a synergy between SEO and SEA.
SEO and SEA: how to create a synergy between natural referencing and paid referencing?
In many companies, SEO SEA strategies are still treated separately, as if they cannot agree. In fact, marketing departments very often choose to invest in one or the other – rarely in both at the same time – because they mistakenly believe that these approaches cannibalize each other. Why take the risk of screwing up optimization efforts by running PPC campaigns? On the other hand, why push internet users towards organic results when you can attract them with relevant and well-targeted ads? This division of the procurement process, however, is a mistake. Because, by combining these two levers, SEO and SEA, it is possible to create synergies and produce unexpected results.
SEO VS SEA: two opposing marketing philosophies
Before analyzing the points of convergence between natural referencing and paid referencing, it is worth recalling that these two levers are built on very different foundations.
Natural referencing (SEO): a more cost-effective long-term strategy
SEO (“Search Engine Optimization”) aims to generate traffic by gaining positions in the SERP (search engine results page) in a natural way, ie without paying to place ads. To achieve this goal, natural referencing is based on a series of levers that need to be activated, which affect both the architecture of the website and the content of the pages, through the creation of links (internal and external).
From the point of view of profitability, the dominance of SEO is indisputable: natural optimization offers the best relationship between the obtained visibility rate and the allocated budget.
On the other hand, it is a long-term strategy for which results are long awaited. Because you have to build site authority and create a large amount of content, and then wait for the actions you take to produce an effect.
Paid referencing (SEA): a more effective strategy in the short term
SEA (“Search Engine Advertising”), or “Pay Per Click” (PPC) marketing, consists of generating traffic from advertising links displayed in the SERP, on other search network cards, or on partner websites (over the Display Network). These links are shown above the organic results: they therefore enjoy greater visibility in the eyes of internet users.
The PPC model is advertising: advertisers pay a certain amount each time their advertising produces the expected result (click, impression, action, etc.). The advantage is that the benefits are current in terms of traffic, especially due to highly targeted targeting, making Internet users who click on these ads more likely to convert later. The disadvantage is that the effectiveness of the strategy depends on the allocated budget. Once the campaign is over (and all the bags are tightened), the ads disappear – and traffic drops.
SEO and SEA: two levers with the same goals
These differences, which oppose SEO and SEA, should not make us forget one thing: in the end, these are two marketing levers that aim for the same goals. When a company implements an SEO or SEA strategy, it strives to…
- improve your visibility on search engines,
- increase the volume of traffic on your website,
- attract qualified visitors in order to convert them,
- optimize conversions to generate sales and revenue.
These two approaches also have in common that they rely on keywords. Indeed, whether it is SEO or SEA, in order to appear in the SERP, a company must target relevant and strategic queries, so that it can open relevant pages (or relevant links) when Internet users type the above terms. In natural referencing, keywords are intelligently placed into content (especially HTML tags). In paid referencing, they are placed in ad texts and lead to auctions. And, in both cases, a preliminary analysis of relevant queries is necessary to understand what Internet users are looking for and how they are looking for it.
In short, SEO and SEA are, in reality, interdependent. They are also grouped under a common term, SEM for “Search Engine Marketing”. This conjunction is not insignificant, as the relevant combination of the two approaches allows synergies to be created and the impact of the acquisition strategy to be optimized. Now we’ll see how.
Synergies between natural referencing and paid referencing
Synergy is a phenomenon in which several factors work together to produce an overall effect (see Wikipedia). Creating synergies between SEO and SEA therefore means working to create a unique effect, more powerful than it would be by activating just one or the other lever. Through these synergies, each method tends to support the other and improve its own efficiency.
Let’s find out now what benefits can be derived from sharing these two approaches.
Cover the entire procurement area
We said: SEO gives long-term results, while SEA allows you to generate traffic immediately – from the start of the campaign, and even during it.
So by using SEO and SEA we have the ability to cover the entire procurement field. This sharing allows you to generate traffic and conversions at the beginning of the strategy, at a time when SEO efforts are materializing and taking over. For example, a Google Ads campaign can bring a website to life during its launch, when a company needs to increase traffic and conversion rate, before moving on to organic acquisition. (This is all the more important because when launching a website, Google has several indicators to assess its relevance: good signals sent by traffic generated through sponsored links are therefore very useful.)
This way of covering the volume of acquisitions is also relevant when it comes to compensating for any loss of turnover. A company that sees a decline in its SEO strategy due to a change in the Google algorithm can thus catch up with SEA campaigns. Conversely, if it is necessary to reduce the budget allocated for paid links, the company can count on a stable turnover that brings organic results.
It is even more interesting for an e-commerce site. SEA ads appear on search, but also on placements reserved for Google’s shopping campaigns. Complementarity between SEO and SEA thus allows to take the maximum space in the SERP, and above all to cover all procurement needs: generic pages optimized for SEO and product sheets adapted to SEA ads.
Multiply the points of contact
Sponsored links appear at the top of the results in the SERP, while organic links appear below. By combining SEO and SEA efforts, it becomes possible to occupy both parts of the results page at the same time: the ad at the top and one or more organic links below. Indeed, on some occasions, a brand may benefit from a double presence on the results page, as can be seen in the example below.
This dominance contributes to the multiplication of contact points for internet users, who then have two entry points to access the same website … including at different times on their shopping journey. So, the user can discover the page by clicking on the organic link, browse a few pages, then leave … And come back, later, through a well-targeted sponsored link that will present the product or service he needs. His prior knowledge of the brand will help him build confidence and give priority to the conversion enabled by the ad.
It is also a lever to strengthen notoriety. Repeated appearances in the SERP tend to inspire more trust among Internet users and help them remember the brand better – thanks to what is known as the “exposure effect”. At the same time, this double presence has two interesting consequences:
- The more space a brand takes up on a page, the less it leaves to its competitors!
- The more popular a site is among Internet users, the more Google appreciates the results.
Take advantage of synergies between keywords
SEO and SEA are two keyword-focused acquisition strategies, as we have seen. But, far from stepping on each other, in this place, they also feed on each other.
- Companies that have been practicing SEO for some time already have a list of strategic keywords they can use to improve the effectiveness of their PPC campaigns. In addition, the page semantics of SEO-optimized pages help Google robots better understand content and ensure their coherence with SEA ad texts.
- In contrast, companies that start SEO will have difficulty identifying relevant phrases. In this case, the lessons given by campaigns with sponsored links (the results of which, it should be remembered, current) provide in-depth knowledge of the keywords they are working on, on which it is interesting to optimize pages for natural reference.
Get more traffic
The last synergy between SEO and SEA: the complementarity of traffic generated using two types of links. Contrary to popular belief, there is no risk of cannibalization. The company will not lose organic traffic due to advertising, and vice versa. On the other hand, the two traffic sources can complement each other.
Studies show that organic results generate more clicks than paid ads. As can be seen in the image below, the first organic link generates almost 40% of clicks, while the first ad reaches only 2.1%. The first three organic sites generate 68% of clicks from the entire page, but two ads only 3.7%.
Two conclusions can be drawn from this. On the one hand, organic links are a more powerful lever of acquisition (even if ads generate more qualified traffic). On the other hand, these two types of links do not attract Internet users in the same way.
In fact, 77% of internet users know how to distinguish a paid link from an organic link (source), and have every reason to consciously click on the first one. Knowing this, it can be estimated that users who click on organic links and those who click on sponsored links are not the same or are at different stages of the shopping journey.
Finally, it should be noted that much of the web traffic comes from organic search (69% if we add generic searches and local searches), while PPC corresponds to only 8% of traffic, as this chart shows:
This means that investing in SEA is not enough, and that it is necessary for a company that wants to take advantage of the acquisition of Search to maintain a good organic position on the first page of SERP. It also means that combining these two levers has every chance of generating more traffic by placing ads as well as organic links in the SERP.
In many respects, SEO and SEA strategies are therefore complementary. Provided we work together and implement a strategy that combines organic and paid leverage, it is possible to create synergies and greatly optimize results in terms of acquisition and conversion.