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Balancing between paid and organic search for brand success

September 18, 2022 Analytics No Comments

Balancing between paid and organic search for brand success

30-second summary:

  • Relying on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for short-term gains and neglecting organic marketing will prove ineffective
  • Before pumping any money into SEO strategy, a business must ensure that its website is fully optimised for user experience
  • Once in a comfortable position, PPC advertising can be used to amplify brand reach by experimenting with new keywords
  • While short-tail keywords have a higher search volume, long-tail keywords remain vital
  • Search results drastically differ on mobile and desktop and mobile users have less patience, so allocate more PPC advertising budget for mobile

When trying to grow a business, the importance of SEO cannot be understated. If people are unable to find a business, especially as ecommerce continues to grow into an unstoppable force, then attracting customers is an impossible endeavour.

In a bid to fast-track brand awareness, an inexperienced business owner might be tempted to rely on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to get fast results. However, finding the right balance between organic marketing and PPC advertising is crucial for brand success.

I have broken down six ways to find the perfect balance between organic marketing and PPC advertising so that any business owner can build awareness for their brand the right way.

Fully optimize your website first

Before focusing on paid or organic search for brand success, having a fully functional website is imperative. If a prospective customer has a torrid experience using a website, the odds of securing a sale drastically decrease. All the logistics of a website should be thoroughly inspected, such as broken links, load time and the volume of customers which can be hosted at once. It’s also important to avoid over-optimising a website and using too many keywords. Keywords should be implemented subtly so that the untrained eye would never notice, otherwise, they might add negative SEO value.

Rely on PPC whilst waiting for organic SEO improvement

While it would be great to be able to rely mostly or solely on organic marketing to raise brand awareness eventually, doing so when starting out is virtually impossible. Historically, PPC advertising has been encouraged to be used whilst a business is waiting for organic SEO improvement to land. This is not a licence to neglect organic marketing – far from it – as the goal is to improve a business’s SEO value whilst using PPC initially. In the longer term, results from PPC advertising should be used to guide organic marketing efforts.

Experiment with brand-related keywords

Once in a comfortable position, a business can shift its PPC advertising strategy towards experimentation. As and when organic brand-related keywords drop in place, the corresponding PPC advertising budget can be reallocated to test new keywords, thus amplifying the total reach of the brand. When improving SEO value, a business needs to constantly explore and update its targeted keywords for organic SEO improvement. As mentioned, results from PPC advertising should be used to inform organic marketing planning.

Focus on both short-tail and long-tail keywords

A short-tail keyword or ‘head term’ is a search term with one to three words that cover a general topic. Landing on the first search engine results page for short-tail keywords borders on impossible due to the sheer number of results, so even though they typically have a higher search volume, long-tail keywords remain important as users are more likely to be closer to a point-of-purchase when searching them. Searching for “shoe shiner” would be a short-tail keyword, whereas searching for “how to shine my shoes” is a long-tail keyword, as it is three to five words and more focused on a specific subject. Naturally, the short-tail keywords will garner more searches, but ranking well for the long-tail keywords will offer a business a meaningful advantage over competitors in the same market.

Don’t just rely on Google

Most business owners, executives and managers will be inclined to focus all their efforts on Google – and rightfully so as it’s the world’s biggest search engine platform by far. However, it can also be worth testing ads on the likes of Bing to see what returns are achievable elsewhere. If the results are favourable, it might be worth splitting SEO-related efforts across multiple platforms.

Use PPC advertising for mobile, organic marketing for desktop

Search results drastically differ on mobile and desktop. At the risk of stating the obvious, using a search engine on desktop presents the users with more results because the screen is naturally bigger. As the window of opportunity – literally the size of the search window on a smartphone – is much smaller on mobile, using PPC advertising for mobile is critical. Furthermore, mobile users are less likely to make multiple searches using different keywords, than a desktop user with more patience might.

Growing brand awareness requires a streamlined and focused strategy for both organic marketing and PPC advertising. Solely relying on PPC advertising might seem like an easy solution, but slowly working on organic marketing will eventually allow a business to use PPC advertising to amplify brand reach. Business owners might underestimate the importance of SEO, but its importance can’t be underscored in the ever-growing digital marketplace.


Nick Swan is Founder of SEOTesting.

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