Home » Love and Hate Relationship of Paid Search (SEM) and SEO

Love and Hate Relationship of Paid Search (SEM) and SEO

  • Users click on a paid search ad that answers search query, mentions a familiar brand, appears above the organic search results, and has a compelling title, description, and image [Search Engine Land]
  • Organic SEO is the primary source of trackable web traffic at 53%, while paid search accounts to 27% [SmartInsights]
  • Users prefer to click organic results instead of adverts, though 15% of all traffic clicks on a PPC ad [SmartInsights]
  • About 75% of the users say paid search made finding information easier than searching on the web [Business2Community]

What do these stats tell us, and what it means to our paid search and SEO?

Please remember that, in this context, search engine marketing (SEM) is for paid search, and SEO is for organic search to avoid confusion. However, the complexity of whether they complement each other or not remains. If SEO can rank your site organically, then why do you still need SEM?

The hate in their love-and-hate relationship

Let me rephrase the question above.

  • Can paid search make a website rank on its own, or can SEO do it alone?
  • Does SEO have more benefits than paid search or vice versa?
  • Will they clash if used together?

This is the tricky part and can get more confusing the deeper you delve into SEO and SEM. Such confusion is more apparent among search engine optimizers in the Philippines.

Filipino online marketing strategists are not very particular with SEO about three or four years ago. These strategists and local companies, nonetheless, are slowly opening up and realizing the potential of page optimization in building the customer list. The question now is: is there a need to abandon paid search strategy or not?

There are potential dangers to paid and organic search being paid services rendered by local SEO companies. Philippine SEO traffic is free, so long as you know how to write high-quality content for your website. Anyhow, writing is one of the most enduring passions of the Filipinos, so this should be easy.

However, high quality, web-optimized content is challenging to write. If you have no idea how the web and search engines work, the best way to obtain organic traffic is to hire a Philippine SEO expert. With this said, organic search is not free at all because you have to hire and pay for various Philippine SEO services.

Unreadable, keyword-rich content is no longer appropriate today, especially with the launch of Google Hummingbird. Quality content is the most vital element of SEO. This requires the firms to invest heavily in Philippine SEO.

Unfortunately, local firms do not have the time and resources to devote to SEO. This is particularly true for local firms that cannot wait for 3 to 4 months before they see some Philippine SEO results. This is where paid search becomes pertinent.

The love in their love-and-hate relationship

Paid search offers both immediate and measurable results compared with SEO. It determines which contents and keywords perform well. Thereby, this can be used as a testing ground whether the chosen SEO strategies will work web-wide or not.

There is one particular way by which paid search can support the Philippine SEO processes. That is keyword identification.

Keywords are required in both SEO and paid search. The latter provides organic identification of search queries. SEM can identify keywords that can convert and thus drive high-value visits. When we say high-value visits, these are the visitors that may eventually become customers.

Also, SEM can organize keywords based on organic ranking difficulty through the analyses of search engine results pages (SERPs).

A relationship that is not a love-and-hate relationship at all

Targeting competitive keywords, reaching the top of SERPs, and staying there is a costly endeavor. In employing SEO efforts to rank higher on Google and other search engines, keyword-rich content but are not useful for your target audience is only a waste of time, money, and effort.

Even Google said that websites must: Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site includes those words within it (#5 in Design and Content Guidelines).

Aside from content quality, the constant algorithm updates of Google and other search engines are not helping as well. Virtually all Philippine SEO specialists recognize that a minor change in the algorithm can bury even the #1 site about 3 to 10 pages deep in the results pages.

You must know that the cost of generating keyword analytics through paid search is lesser than that of using technical resources for the website to rank on SERPs. So, build keyword-targeted ad copies and direct the traffic on actual contents. The amount of traffic will tell you whether the content is viable and valuable to the users or not.

Thereby, the paid search and organic search dilemma must be a balancing act for all firms. Create a cohesive push by leveraging SEM initiatives so that SEO efforts will benefit. Use SEM first to determine the right keywords for your business. Then, use SEO once you’ve determined the right keywords to optimize.

SEM helps in ensuring that your local target audience, as well as Google, will like the contents from natural keywords usage to title to call to action. What Philippine SEO agents must realize is that SEM can send organic traffic to fresh content, thereby gauging user interaction quickly.

Lessons learned

  • Is there a need to abandon paid search strategy or not? NO. SEO is not a reason local firms must leave paid search behind. SEM can enhance the SEO performance of any local firm.
  • Can paid search make a website rank on its own, or can Philippine SEO do it alone? Paid search can make a website rank; ranking will stop once SEM stops. SEO can rank a website given the right keywords, but seeing results will take time.
  • Does SEO have more benefits than paid search or vice versa? Paid search and SEO have several benefits individually. Combined, they may even leverage the performance of each to a higher level.
  • Will they clash if used together? NO. Considering the consistent rollout of Google updates (Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird), a consolidated strategy is needed now more than ever.

While local firms are outsourcing to Philippine SEO services on a shoestring budget, this doesn’t mean to sacrifice any component of online marketing efforts. Remember to use keywords that the target audience uses and are specific to your business and then author ad copies and web content based on these keywords. You need to know how the Filipinos think and what search terms they are using.

To answer the question: If SEO can rank your site organically, then why do you need SEM? You still need paid search even if SEO can rank your website organically because paid strategies complement the organic strategy.

So, the next time that a user searches for your keywords, your advertisement will appear, and when that user clicks it, he or she will be directed to your main contents. Awesome!

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