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Your end customer does not go from discovery > consideration > purchase in one isolated marketing channel.

While this is a fact that is rarely debated and widely understood in the marketing and business community, the search marketing community still widely operates in isolation. Search marketers define themselves as an SEO or as a PPC and rarely do both parties effectively communicate.

This is a horrible mistake and flaw in the modern marketing stack.

In this post, we will unpack the reality of search engines in 2017 and why B2B companies must integrate their search engine optimization and pay per click campaigns.

The Reality of Search Engines in 2017

In 2017, a lot has changed in the search marketing world. Google has consistently pivoted their search landscape into favoring their advertising options (which drive a large part of the revenue). We now have four ads above the fold. We also have some local queries pulling ads in the google my business results. With this in mind, even if you rank #1 for a term organically you are technically the eighth clickable result on the page.

Because of this, many SEOs have been preaching the value of the long-tail. These are keywords that are “longer” and have multiple words usually around a very specific query for example: “best erp software for ecommerce”. Even on a query such as this, you will still be the #5 result if you rank number 1 organically due to the ads above the fold. Can you see any organic results above the fold?

With all this in mind, the #1 result for organic still has a click thru rate between 20-30%. Not bad, but definitely not the entire market. In contrast, the #1 paid search position has between 2-5% click thru rate. Because of this, we need to start thinking beyond just search ads and ranking our own websites if we want to be optimizing our brands for search engines.

In fact, in 2017, the best and most profitable keywords that B2B companies want to rank for are no longer attainable. Google has shifted their algorithm to favor third-party independent comparison sites. See the top results below for the query “best CRM software”:

As you can see in the screenshot above, it is time we take a different perspective for how B2B companies are optimizing their businesses for search engines.

Why We Must Integrate SEO & PPC

With an understanding of the current state of search engines, the case for integration becomes even more compelling. We need to not only rank organically, but also have paid search ads, managed placements on Google’s Display Network and pay third party review sites if we want to own the market.

But how do you know which keywords to pursue? Which one’s are most valuable?

To determine this, you need data. You need to know cost per acquisition, cost per click, cost per conversion, etc. This data has been removed from Google’s organic rankings for quite some time, but it’s readily available in Google Adwords if you are paying for these keywords.

With that data in hand, you can now take market share and make educated search marketing decisions. Based on this, I have outlined our process for properly integrating SEO and PPC for B2B companies.

Step 1: Launch Search Ads or Mine Search Term Report

If you currently have search ads running, I recommend that you mine your search term report and pull out your most valuable keywords. These traditionally are driving the most conversions or have the lowest cost per acquisition.

If you do not have search ads running, I recommend that you launch search ads via Bing around your top 5 keyword themes around your ideal customer's buyer journey. From here, you can gather data before launching your SEO, content, and link building efforts.

Step 2: Look for More Opportunities in the SERP

Now that you know which keywords are most valuable, you can start to expand your search market share.

Here are some top opportunities to identify:

  1. Are you at over 90% search impression share for keywords that have the right return on ad spend in Adwords?

  2. Have you targeted all sites in the top 10 organic results that also have Google display ads on their site with a managed placement?

  3. Are there any third-party ad sites like: capterra, g2crowd, getapp, software advice, yelp, etc. that you can be listed or advertise on?

  4. Do you rank organically? If not, what type of content would you need to create and which links would you need to earn?

With these four steps, you can now dramatically improve your MQLs.  

Step 3: Rinse and Repeat

The SERP (search engine results page) is constantly changing. New competitors enter the market, Google changes their algorithm, etc. You need to be constantly mining your search term report and the SERP to identify new opportunities and empower the SEO and content team with clear and valuable integration.

Hopefully, from this post, you can recognize the importance of integrating your SEO and PPC channels to improve lead volume and sales.

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Garrett Mehrguth is the CEO of Directive Consulting, a comprehensive search marketing agency specializing in ROI-driven campaigns for B2B and enterprise organizations. He has spoken at State of Search, Digital Summit, Share16, 3XE Digital, SMX West, Big Digital, MozCon Ignite, and has contributed thought leadership to sites like Moz, Ahref, Kissmetrics, PPC Hero, Crazy Egg, SitePoint, Marin, Convince and Convert, Wordstream, Raven, and Acquisio.