How SEO and Paid Search Can Work Together to Maximize Your Marketing ROI

Dave Novotny

US Head of Paid Media


When developing a search strategy, deciding where to invest time, money, and staffing can prove challenging. Should you invest more resources into strengthening your organic SEO presence? Or is it better to focus on bidding for paid traffic from pay-per-click (PPC) keywords with the highest conversion rates?

As you might expect, the answer is more nuanced than simply prioritizing one over the other. The most effective search strategy maximizes the strengths of both SEO and PPC, ensuring that one channel picks up where the other falls short.

This article examines how PPC and SEO can work together to develop a cohesive search strategy, improving SERP results and maximizing ROI.

The strengths and weaknesses of PPC


PPC is a form of digital advertising that allows businesses to display ads in SERPs by paying for the real estate. In PPC, companies only pay when a user clicks their ads. These ads typically appear at the top and bottom of SERPs, which are often the first results users see when searching specific terms. Like organic SEO, Paid Search has strengths and weaknesses:


Strengths of PPC


  • Ads will gain instant visibility for keywords.
  • Test and customize ads to increase click-through rates (CTR).
  • You can increase spending to reach more relevant audiences.

Weaknesses of PPC


  • Keyword visibility requires constant investment and maintenance.
  • Paid ads are viewed as less trustworthy by some searchers.
  • Expect a higher cost-per-click (CPC) for competitive keywords, resulting in lower ROI.
  • Every click costs money, even those that don’t result in conversions.

The strengths and weaknesses of organic SEO


Organic SEO involves optimizing a website to improve its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Several factors contribute to SEO, including content, structure, site speed, and metadata. Ranking organically for top keywords can drive considerable traffic to your site. But there are drawbacks to only relying on SEO to bring in organic traffic. Some pros and cons of SEO include:


Strengths of organic SEO


  • Organic traffic is free.
  • Expect long-term sustainability without constant investment.
  • Certain users view organic listings as more credible.

Weaknesses of organic SEO


  • Seeing the fruits of your efforts can take a long time.
  • SERP features and paid results often push organic listings down the search page.
  • SEO traffic tends to be top-of-funnel and doesn’t necessarily translate to conversions.
  • Ranking factors and algorithms are subject to change at any time.


How to combine SEO and PPC to get the best results


As you can see, both SEO and PPC have their strengths. For instance, while PPC requires constant curation, digital marketers can pivot their strategy relatively quickly to try new approaches. Alternatively, SEO can give your business top-ranking results for free. But since it takes longer to rank organically than it does with PPC, if a strategy falls short and requires adjustments, this can delay the process further.

Luckily, the strengths of each channel provide support in areas where the other falls short, which is why it is essential to use both to maximize your marketing ROI and unify your search strategy. Here are four ways to combine organic SEO and PPC for an optimized search strategy.

1. Use SEO and PPC insights to inform your broader strategy


A harmonious search strategy uses organic and paid search insights to inform the other. For example, suppose you find that organic traffic originating from a specific geographic area has a higher conversion rate. In that case, your PPC team can aggressively adjust bids to target users in that location. Conversely, you can learn which keywords, calls-to-actions (CTAs), and messaging are more effective for PPC quicker than with organic. You can use these insights to target popular keywords in metadata, blogs, and landing page copy to increase organic CTR and conversions.

2. Target high CPC keywords with SEO


With PPC, the higher your bid on keywords, the lower your overall ROI. Therefore, if you can organically capture top spots for those keywords, you don’t need to spend money on them for PPC. Of course, specific keywords are highly competitive to rank organically, so if you are having trouble ranking in a top position, the higher cost of PPC could be worth it. It’s all about finding the right balance.

3. Gain immediate visibility in areas with low organic presence


For broad keywords with high search volumes that are difficult to rank for organically, bidding on these ensures you are listed in front of the users searching for those terms. PPC can also be a temporary fix while you build your organic strategy, which takes longer to get off the ground. For example, if you launch a new product and still need to rank for related keywords, you can bid on those keywords while you optimize your site to rank for them organically. As your organic rankings increase, you can adjust your PPC spend accordingly.

4. Target competitor-branded keywords with paid search


Ultimately, the goal of SEO and PPC is SERP visibility over competitors. However, organically ranking for competitor-branded keywords can prove challenging. After all, most businesses want to refrain from supporting content on their site that talks about competitor’s products or service offerings. However, with PPC, not only can you bid on competitor-branded keywords, but you can also create ads that offer a superior alternative to those competitors. So, when potential customers search for a competitor’s product, they’ll see your search ads, providing an option they may choose.


Overall, organic SEO and PPC are powerful tools that can maximize your ROI. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each, you can develop a combined SEO and PPC strategy that will drive more traffic to your site, increase conversions, and outrank your competitors.

Interested in developing an integrated digital strategy?Contact our experts today