In firms committed an incredible amount of money to digital marketing. That year, it’s estimated that global spending on digital advertising was be over $333bn (Emarketer Digital Ad Spending Report). That’s a huge 17.9% jump over the previous year. These statistics are a clear indicator that firms across the world are shifting their focus to digital marketing initiatives. With all this money being spent, it’s important that marketers are still able to get an attractive return-on-investment.

As a result of more competition, it’s more difficult than ever to create an effective digital marketing campaign. The goal is to acquire as many conversions (i.e. sales) in return for the lowest cost possible. With more competition, the cost of acquiring a customer via online ads is always increasing. Likewise, SEO is always becoming more competitive and challenging. For many, the only way to win is to have a bulletproof strategy that integrates multiple aspects of online marketing.

The most common methods of online marketing are:

  • Search engine marketing - SEO and PPC
    • SEO (search engine optimisation)
    • PPC (pay-per-click)
  • Social media marketing (e.g. Facebook advertising)
  • Content marketing
  • Affilaite marketing
  • Email marketing

At most high-level marketing agencies, each client gets a different strategy tailored depending on their industry and product/service. However, one thing is the same for every client - multiple appropriate forms of digital marketing are combined to created an integrated approach. This is because agencies understand that combining different methods of digital marketing is the most-effective strategy.

If you take a look at the SERPs (search engine results pages), you’ll see that the websites ranking highly in competitive searches nearly always have a fully interacted strategy. They’ll normally have some paid ads, a social media strategy, content marketing, email marketing, and more. It’s almost a necessity to build on multiple channels of digital marketing.

Search Engine Marketing

Google Ads is by far the largest digital ad platform in the world. Google’s primary ad forms are the paid search ads and Display Network ads. Google operates on the pay-per-click (PPC) model, whereby your pay for every click on your advert by Google search users, or on websites that place Google Display ads. PPC is one form of search engine marketing, the other is SEO.

SEO is where your employ strategic methods to make your website appear higher for specific search terms. To do so involves on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. On-page factors are stuff like content, titles, quality of user experience and page speed. Off-page SEO factors are mostly to do with backlinks - the goal is to get other high-quality website to link to your website. Nailing both components of SEO can provide a huge traffic source, that is 100% free. Unlike PPC, you won’t be paying for these clicks.

So SEO is better?

Yes and no. The key problem with SEO is the large time investment it takes to get results, and the unpredictability. Furthermore, some niches are fairly impenetrable without a huge budget for SEO related work i.e. content marketing. PPC on the other is a fairly straightforward affair - simply set a budget, set the keywords, and your ad will show instantly. However, just like with SEO, some niches are simply too competitive to operate in without an experienced PPC manger.

Integrating SEO and PPC like a pro

Due to the slower moving nature of optimising for organic search, it’s often a good idea to start with paid search ads right away. Even agencies that focus predominantly on organic search use paid ad techniques for new clients, for example Search Engine Optimization Expert. Starting with PPC allows you to get some fairly immediate feedback. In paid search campaigns, you’re forced quickly to learn a lot about the keywords and audience that you’re targeting.

Within the first month, even with a small budget you can create a somewhat optimised campaign (i.e. by adding to your negative keyword list, or establishing appropriate retargeting).

Using PPC is a great way to jump right into a digital marketing campaign and get feedback. Using SEO, the feedback cycle is much slower. Whilst working on your paid campaign, you’ll be able to allocate resources to you organic search, i.e acquiring links, creating content, optimising the on-page, etc. Simply waiting for rankings to get web traffic is not a god way to spend you time.

Another huge benefit of using paid ads, is that it demands a good landing page for any success. Good landing pages are usually built on multiple iterations, each iteration being driven by the dat derived from you paid search campaign. By the time your page is getting any organic traffic, you should have had plenty of time to optimised it for conversions.

The ultimate goal of integrating PPC and SEO is to reach a point where your website dominates the front page on the SERPs with multiple listings. Showing up on the front page in both the ads section and the organic section is a sure-fire way to attract traffic.

How Non-SEO marketing is actually great for SEO

Social media marketing is a great way to build an authoritative brand, which makes it much easier to secure link opportunities. When reaching out to blogs (for link building), having a brand with a huge social following will make other brands want to work with you. If you’ve ever tried reaching out for link building purposes with an unknown brand, you’ll know how difficult it is to even get a response. The higher your social following the wider the range of link-creating opportunities you’ll get. And as we all know, links are the key to ranking in competitive niches.

Paid ads, social media marketing, and pretty much any other form of marketing can really boost your organic rankings. This is because it’ll create some buzz around your brand. A likely result is increased branded search traffic, increased direct traffic, improved CTR for keyword searches, more engagement, and so on. Web traffic, CTR and engagement are very important ranking factors.

Without these factors being bolstered by non-SEO marketing methods, it may even be impossible to rank in more competitive niches. In those niches, you’ll almost certainly come up against a well established brand that has built trust and reputation using paid and social marketing methods - simply some backlinks and some optimised pages won’t be enough to surpass them.