SEO and SEA: synergy between organic traffic and paid campaigns

Recently, an increasingly hot topic is the synergy between SEO and SEA: how can the two services collaborate actively without the cannibalization of one at the expense of the other?

SEA (Search Engine Advertising) means all those paid promotion activities through search engines. The results are measurable through conversions, traced through specific portions of code, inserted in the pages of the site or through other metrics such as clicks and impressions.

From the nature of this activity, it is clear how intersection areas can exist in which, for specific user searches, the engine returns both paid and organic ads, for example, “Hotel Milano.”

If we analyze the results of this screenshot, Booking and Trivago are present both with ads on the search network and organically, with dedicated pages.

Therefore, you could think that there is SEA cannibalization compared to the SEO: the answer is … it depends.

Before analyzing this example in detail, let’s see how to establish a correct synergy between SEO and SEA.

Correct activation of SEO and SEA strategy simultaneously

In the image, we can see how SEO and SEA can coexist without conflict and support one another:

By definition, SEO oversees keywords lasting over time; SEA, on the other hand, is dedicated to keywords with a high rate of competition, not covered in the short term by organic results. Additionally, SEA is also used for targeted seasonal strategies and sponsorships with an immediate and short-term starting point, for example, the launch of a new product, a new collection or a special timed offer.

If we carry out a brand search, for example, “Trivago,” Google shows us these results:

In this case, SEA is fundamental because it allows to carry out a Brand Protection action on the “Trivago” brand. If you decide not to buy the brand keyword anymore, competitors may show before the brand. The risk is to send them traffic, especially from mobile, where the organic results are shown after scrolling the page, even when the Trivago homepage is correctly shown in the first position.

SEO or SEA? They are not alternatives but complementary activities

From the analyzes carried out on some of our clients, it has become essential to work synergistically with SEO and SEA: one activity cannot ignore the other, to maximize the results and optimize the available budgets.

It is necessary to set a strategic plan in the short, medium, and long term:

  • In the short term, we will cover with SEA all the seasonal queries, and those for which SEO will have to develop a long-term strategy;
  • In the medium term, we will cover with SEA all those high-competition queries for which SEO is not yet in the top positions;
  • In the long term, while SEO begins to consolidate organic results, SEA will be essential in terms of brand security, and protection from competitors.
Sveva Coltellacci Head of SEA