SEO and SEM advertising: why combine them?

web positioning

It is common to talk about SEO and SEM advertising separately, or compare the two to define which is better. However, little is said about the synergies between both strategies and how to combine them so that, together, they produce the desired effect.

The combination of SEO and SEM advertising can boost the results of any online business. SEO provides a solid and lasting foundation, while SEM provides immediate visibility. Working together, these two approaches complement each other and generate a greater impact on a website’s visibility, traffic and conversion. To get the best results from a campaign, it’s worth considering working with an SEO agency or an SEO consultant specializing in comprehensive strategies that maximize these synergies..

But before talking about possible combinations and what they have in common, it is necessary to explain both concepts separately.

Characteristics of SEO strategy

The SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, strategyrefers to a set of techniques and practices used to improve the visibility and positioning of a website in organic search results.

The SEO strategy done well can generate more leads and sales capable of being sustained even without the need to invest in paid ads, so it is considered a more “sustainable” strategy.

In addition, the organic results tend to generate greater trust and credibility among users.. Search engines rank websites based on their relevance and quality, so appearing in the top search results indicates that the site is trustworthy and offers valuable content. This can generate a higher click-through rate and a better user experience, which in turn can increase visibility and traffic in the long run.

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

SEO, or organic SEO, is based on optimizing content, website structure, technical optimization, authority and links, and user experience to appear in search results naturally.

On the other hand, SEM, or search engine marketing, involves paying for ads that appear in search results. These ads are immediately visible and provide greater visibility, but there is a cost associated with them and their effect disappears when the investment stops.

SEO and SEM advertising: points in common

Now, by combining SEO and SEM advertising, powerful results can be achieved. SEM advertising achieves fast results and instant visibility, which can complement long-term SEO strategies that are being developed in the meantime.

In addition, analyzing the data generated by both strategies provides valuable insights for decision making. By combining SEO and SEM metrics, we identify patterns and trends that allow us to further optimize the overall marketing strategy.

However, the combination of both channels depends on the strategy, the resources available to the brand and, of course, its objectives.

In fact, being in the first position of the organic results does not guarantee obtaining 100% of the chances of generating conversions. To assess the opportunity cost gained or lost, an incrementality study should be carried out, focusing on the most relevant traffic from an organic point of view.

As a first step, we would do it on branded traffic, so as to help us answer the key question: what is the value of real incremental conversions when we have a good organic positioning? The steps to do an incrementality study focused on brand traffic are:

-Define conversion metrics, which may include click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, average transaction value, revenue generated, among others.
-Establish two groups, one control and one test. One representing the current SEO and SEM strategy (control) and one implementing specific changes in the combined SEO and SEM strategy (test).
-Gather data on branded organic and SEM traffic and conversion performance during a specific period. We must previously have detailed information on conversions generated by both organic traffic and paid ads separately.
-Analyze results by comparing data from the control group with data from the combined strategy test group. We examine the differences in conversion metrics and calculate the actual increase in conversions attributed to good organic positioning.
-Calculate the incremental value using the information collected and the results of the analysis to determine the actual value of incremental conversions generated by good organic positioning.
-Evaluate the opportunity cost: When determining the incremental value, also take into account the costs associated with combined SEO and SEM strategies. The opportunity cost is evaluated by comparing the performance and expenses of the current strategies with the changes implemented in the test group.

In summary, a combined SEO and SEM strategy should not be based only on doing SEM for searches in which we do not have SEO visibility, but assessing the performance of being in paid searches when we have visibility in organic positioning.

How to choose your SEO agency?

Now, knowing all that, how to choose your SEO agency? Or, better, why choose an SEO agency? An SEO -and SEM- advertising strategy is not always simple to design. It requires prior knowledge, as well as specific tools that allow to study not only the positioning of a website, but also to find the best keywords for each brand and company.

In fact, inefficiency in the work of SEO and SEM of a brand can generate cannibalization of traffic and objectives. The performance of both channels together can be diminished if there is no holistic vision of the strategy.

A media agency, as is the case of Tidart, has SEO consultants and a specialized team that can perform such an evaluation, design a long-term sustainable SEO advertising strategy and combine it with SEM advertising, guaranteeing short and long-term results.

Article written by Sergio Montesdeoca, SEO&CRO | Web Analytics Manager

With more than 10 years dedicated to Digital Marketing, Sergio mainly works as a Digital Analyst, SEO Consultant and Auditor, from SEO On page (web architecture and optimization), to content strategies and Technical SEO.

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