Inbound is No Longer Enough: Why SEM & SEO Are Better Together

The magic touch that was once inbound marketing has lost some of its spark as content saturation increases every day. In an age of changing algorithms, unpredictable rankings, and increasing content fatigue, digital marketers should invest in both SEM and SEO to remain the dominant player.


SEO and SEM are the Ultimate Power Couple

There are no shades of gray when it comes to how well SEO and SEM can work together. From quickly boosting ROI to helping you gather precious data, the advantages of paid search are black and white.

See a Surge with SEM

SEO should always be an important component of a marketing strategy, but it’s often a long game you should be prepared to play. SEO takes weeks to set up, requiring tinkering with numerous elements from website architecture to content creation. Efforts can then take 4 to 6 months before results start to register.

Businesses with smaller budgets can also face particular challenges in the SEO game, having limited resources for both this technical tweaking and content creation.

To address the challenges of SEO, large and small companies alike should include paid search on their agenda, which can drive leads and sales faster than SEO. Unlike SEO, PPC campaigns can be designed simply and set up in a matter of hours. PPC ads can also generate instant traffic. With these PPC campaigns quickly in place, you’ll be able to observe noticeable results in a shorter period of time.

Partner SEM with Your SEO Strategy

SEM is the perfect partner to inform your SEO strategy.

One of the greatest advantages to using SEM with SEO is the valuable data you can quickly collect through your paid search accounts. Through PPC campaigns, businesses can learn about new users and bounce rates, find out which pages are converting, and gain insight into high performing keywords.

Google Analytics’ Treemaps report, released late last year, is one of the newest visual aids to help you gather information that can help you understand how Google views your website. With all this knowledge, you’ll get the boost you need to put together a better SEO strategy.

Lastly, because SEM can garner faster results, companies can re-invest revenue from PPC efforts into longer-term SEO campaigns.

Double Up for a Higher CTR

Another proven benefit of combined SEM and SEO is higher click-through rates, which increase the potential for conversions. With businesses competing for attention on SERPs, a paid ad can help double the visibility of your brand. That’s important, because a Google study in 2012 revealed that organic clicks don’t always substitute for ad clicks when the ads are turned off. In fact, 50% of clicks on paid ads were not replaced by organic clicks when the ads were absent and the website ranked in first position.

In a separate experiment, YouMoz blogger Mark Myerson discovered that when paid listings are shown with organic listings, the overall CTR of the entire SERP is 26% compared to a CTR of 19% for paid listings alone.

The numbers show it: paid plus organic can multiply your success.

Inbound is no longer enough

Inbound marketing today can feel like a music festival where all the bands are playing at once. Digital marketers are recognizing that one channel is never enough if they want to emerge through the noise and get their message heard.

The Saturated Market

Today’s digital marketer operates in a highly saturated market. Moz’s annual industry surveys have shown an upward trend in the amount of content marketing taking place each year. Moz reported that compared to its 2012 survey, when content marketing ranked #5 for top marketing activities, its 2014 survey registered a jump of this activity to #2. The survey also found that content marketing has had the highest year-over-year demand increase, with 71% of survey participants reporting an increased demand.

Clearly, content marketing is on the rise. Yet at the same time, consumer attention is on the decrease, making inbound marketing more difficult.

In a recent review of “Interesting Studies to Note,” Social Media Examiner shared findings from Trackmaven’s Content Marketing Paradox report. The report tracked more than 8,000 brands across seven digital channels for two years and found that the output of content per brand has increased 78%. However, actual content engagement has decreased by 60%.

With this growing content fatigue, digital marketers must start devising more sustainable strategies. Marketing blogger Mark W. Shaefer has even argued that some industries might see a “content shock,” where supply overruns demand. Using an economics model, he predicts that individuals, companies, and brands might have to “pay” consumers more to make sure they see the same amount of content.

Silver Linings and Solutions

It’s important to note that Shaefer and other marketing experts don’t believe that content shock and fatigue are imminent. Rather, they see them as warning signs. There are many factors to take into consideration, including the level of content saturation in your niche.

At the end of the day, the explosion of content still means better choices for consumers, as well as better content. Shaefer thinks the problem is less about consumer “information overload,” and more about business implications behind making sure your company gets noticed.

With that in mind, it becomes more obvious why paid search can be an ideal solution to the challenges of inbound marketing. SEM and SEO are simply better together.

Looking for more tips on integrated search?

Join our live webinar, “The Power of Integrated Search: Why SEO & SEM Are Better Together” on Thursday, February 26th.