How to Combine SEO and SEM

Usually SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) activities are handled by different teams which work independently. Both influence the visibility on the search engine result pages though. The question is in which cases to go for SEO and when to use SEM?

1. SEO is the basis

It is clear that your website should be found for the basic services and products of you website. SEO is the basis and the first step in online marketing to increase your online visibility. But it can take some months until you receive a good ranking position and the result depends on several factors such as the competitive situation.

2. SEM for new websites

For a new website you have to wait at least 4 – 6 months until your SEO tasks will show results. If you use AdWords ads during this period you can make sure you nevertheless will be visible in the search engine result pages.

3. SEM for highly competitive keywords

In a highly competitive industry everybody fights for the same keyword which makes it very difficult to achieve a ranking position in the top 10. Also in this case, SEM is a great opportunity to ensure your visibility.

4. SEM for temporary and target group specific ads

SEM allows you to be found for special and unique keywords during a campaign which lasts only a few weeks. The AdWords ad is visible immediately and does not need long and intensive SEO efforts.

In addition you can customize your AdWords ad and adapt it to your target group: You can configure your ad and define the target location, the language, the time of day and the device on which your ad should be shown.

5. Overall visibility

It is important that you are aware of the structure of the search engine result page for a given keyword. Google recommends combining AdWords ads with organic results, but does not give any clear instructions in which cases the combination leads to an increased click rate. If you are already the number 1 organic result it is questionable if an AdWords ad is of any additional benefit. If even the first five organic results are based on your website as in the example of Flying Pizza, you can save your money. The AdWords ad does not generate any additional value.

Overall visability example

There are currently several tools showing the visibility of your website only in the organic search engine results. An overall visibility should also include the SEM visibility though. This is possible with the hoosh Inside Industry data that provides a competitive analysis based on a visibility score which combines SEO and SEM performance.

It is important to be aware that the SERPs contain both SEO and SEM results for a keyword. To make sure that the SEO and SEM activities are aligned you should be able to get an overview of all your keyword activities. The best starting point to achieve this would be to create a combined keyword list containing all the SEO and SEM keywords.