Can't SEO and SEM Get Along?

I was recently thinking about how I could expand on a previous post on why paid and organic search efforts should be done together.

For simplicity, assume that a new site is launching and that there's a budget for both SEO and PPC efforts. Since a new site is unlikely to get much in the way of organic search traffic, the PPC efforts are what will drive traffic for the near term. During this time, SEO should be applied to the new site and eventually, if done right, these efforts will start to bring in “free” traffic from the search engines.

If all goes well, the new site will obtain top rankings for search phrases that convert well. At the same time, analysis of the PPC effort will reveal words that convert well, but are just too expensive to continue bidding on. There will also be words that convert well, cost a reasonable amount, and represent keywords that the site is unlikely to ever rank well for perhaps because of competition.

If you look at all of this information with the big picture in mind, you can cut back on your spend for words that the site ranks well organically and pump these funds into the words that the site will never rank well for, but have good ROI on the PPC side. In addition, you can look at the words in the PPC campaign that are too expensive and start building content around them in an effort to rank well for them for “free”.

Down the road, if you find that you have an expanded budget, there's no reason to not have your organic and PPC efforts target the same keywords. Different people will be attracted to different parts of a search results page. If they're in a research frame of mind, organic results are going to be more attractive. If they're in the transaction mode, it's quite likely they'll head straight for the paid ads since their existence implies that they can follow through with the transaction of interest.

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