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SEO and SEM – Use SEO to supercharge your paid search

SEO and SEM are siblings in the marketing family that usually don’t get along but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on optimizing content to increase natural search. SEM also known as pay per click is where you bid on keywords using Google or Bing’s Adwords platform.

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There are several SEO tips that can dramatically impact your paid search campaigns and supercharge them. The best part is that none of these opportunities are overly complicated or required anything but some time and maybe a little patience to do.

Check out this video interview with Rand Fishkin on the Evolution of Search

Let’s take a moment to review some of these ways:


SEO and SEM integration tips

Keyword Mining: While it may feel like your AdWords account is targeting every relevant keyword under the sun that you can think of, the way that people search is constantly changing.  It’s important to always be on the lookout for new search terms to target.  Google Search Console has the potential to give you access to hundreds of actual searches that your website ranks for despite Google moving users to secure search in 2011 and introducing us to a world full of (not provided) data.


search console keywords


By comparing these keywords to what you’re already bidding on, you have the potential to uncover new keyword opportunities.  Adding any relevant modifiers (ex. best, top, near me, etc.) can help yield even more options. Successful performance isn’t guaranteed but if Google likes these search terms enough to show your website, there’s a good chance that they’re relevant and will perform similarly to other keywords in your account.

If you’ve never set up Google Search Console for your websites, you’ll want to do so as soon as you can. It’s free and provides you a treasure trove of information about how Google sees your website and gives you controls to tweak how they understand it.

Budget Testing / Optimization:  Whether you’re a small startup or a large enterprise, your Paid Search budget is a precious but limited commodity.   The keywords you’re investing in and the bids associated with those keywords could be the difference between wasting clicks or increasing conversions.

To test this using your SEO data you’ll want to export data from Google Search Console.  You’ll want to use 30 or 60 days’ worth of keyword data to help normalize against any irregularities or performance spikes that may have happened.  Any keywords with an Average Position that’s 3 or higher will make a good candidate for testing. Since the organic position of these keywords is so high, the test will be to measure the impact of reducing the bids of keywords where you’re already show high on the page.  If you’re in the first organic position you could even consider taking it one step further and pausing the keyword in your Paid Search account during the test period.

You’ll want to do any testing over the course of 4 or more weeks where you alternate between having the keywords paused or running with lower bids and having them running as usual.  The data will indicate if showing in both Paid and Organic Search is better for your business than only running within Organic Search.

It’s worth nothing that if there’s a lot of competition on these keywords or if you’re doing this with branded search terms, you’ll want to closely monitor the impact to your business.  Based on the results, you can use any cost savings and reinvest it to drive clicks for keywords where you don’t have a high organic position or move those funds into other channels.

This is a great way to leverage your strengths in SEO to give you the ability to invest more in areas where you’re seeing good performance but aren’t capturing 90%+ Impression Share within you paid search account.  It can also be used to invest in more competitive keywords higher up the funnel that could help drive more new users to your site.

Improving On-Site SEO to Drive Paid Search Efficiency:  The algorithms behind how Google’s Quality Score and Ad Rank are a mystery to advertisers but over the years we’ve been giving some clues.  In addition to your Max CPC bid, your clickthrough rate (CTR) is considered along with factors associated to your landing page experience.  According to Google, “You should make sure your landing page is clear and useful to customers, and that is related to your keyword and what customers are searching for.”

This is the same fundamental principle behind good SEO.  If you have landing pages that load quickly, have clear and concise content on them with a clear CTA, search engines and users will respond positively.  For search engines, the benefits are two-fold. You could see your page rank for more keywords and your CPCs and / or conversion rates could improve as a result of these changes.

There are two developments that prove how much Google currently cares about the landing page experience in AdWords.  At the end of 2017, they started testing the use of

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) as destination URLs so advertisers can see the impact and benefit of pages that appear to instantaneously load on smartphones.  They also announced that the use of parallel tracking, where the destination URL and any redirects to track that click are decoupled, will be mandatory by October 2018 with the goal of helping pages load faster.


Google also released a page speed testing tool with a ROI calculator that shows an estimate of how much money can be made if you improve your website speed.





Providing an experience that’s good for your customers will pay dividends whether they come in from Paid Search or through Organic Search


Wrapping Things Up

Inside many agencies and brands, search marketing is split amongst different teams working across paid and organic search.  There’s no doubt that each channel influences the other, but which one takes priority when someone can online click one link on the page?

While paid search may usually be where advertisers turn to first, your SEO program could be the secret weapon that you’ve been looking for.  Improving your organic search performance does require a higher level of commitment but the time and effort you put into improving the SEO of the pages across your site can also greatly impact your paid search performance.

About Luigi Ferguson

Luigi currently serves as the Assistant Vice President of Search Engine Optimization at ANSIRA. His marketing career spans more than 13 years. During this time, he's held roles on the client-side, agency-side and vendor-side at companies such as Razorfish, Yahoo and Criteo. His experience spans all facets of the marketing continuum including Paid Search, SEO, display media, email marketing, content development, affiliate marketing, conversion optimization and strategic planning.

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