Paid vs. Organic. While these opposing sides aren’t exactly Sith vs. Jedi, they do often compete with one another, and are pitted against each other in the competitive search landscape. There are many schools of thought on either side. For paid search, ask 10 different managers their opinion on whether or not to include branded terms in paid search, and you’ll likely get equal amounts for and against, along with 10 different rationales as to why. On the SEO side, you’ll likely get the common argument off, “quit cannibalizing, and let the SEO work! It’s free clicks for crying out loud!”

Use Google Search Console

If there is one main takeaway from everything that is said in this post, be sure to link Google Search Console to Google Ads, as well as to Google Analytics. Google Search Console provides invaluable information related to search impressions, organic rank, which pages are ranking for those terms, and so on. Utilize this data as a foundation to build from, and both paid search, and SEO will be happy, and work in harmony.

Search Console in Google Ads

Once you connect Google Search Console to your Google Ads account, it enables a very powerful report that is Pre-Defined Reports (Dimensions) -> Basic -> Paid & Organic. In here, you are able to see which queries are showing up for paid only, organic only, or both. In instances where you are showing up for both paid and organic, it will also break out the frequency of clicks and impressions by paid or organic, along with what the combined totals are.

Reference this frequently, along with Google Search Console itself to evaluate traffic volume, as well as the landing pages that best rank for specific queries. By using the search queries you rank for, along with the pages that best rank for those queries, it will provide a natural lift in your ad’s quality score.

Play to the Strengths

Google Search Console shows you which terms you rank for in the top 100. Page 1 of a Google search results page typically shows up to 10, depending on how much other rich content may appear for the search term. Organic interaction drops off exponentially after the top few listings, so if your average position is outside the top 3, and especially at 7 or greater, paid search will provide a great boost to your overall traffic to the site.

The fact that your site ranks for any of these terms at all is a great sign. It could be a matter of your content not being aged, the domain as a whole isn’t as authoritative as some other sites speaking to the same topic, or other factors where you’re just not hitting those top 3-5 spots. This is perfect targeting for paid search because Google is already acknowledging that your landing page has value for that particular search term, and so your average cost per click on these terms should be relatively low when you use that term and associated landing page with quality ad copy.

While terms with average rankings outside the top 7 won’t get you much organic traffic, bidding on these terms can immediately bring them to the top 3, and help you get traction on them through paid listings. Odds are, many of these terms are beneficial for your business, and you just need the opportunity for people to see you, and that you provide value related to what they’re looking for.

Further Optimize Your Landing Page

You now see that your landing page is ranking for a particular term. Great! Now, take a more detailed look at it, and see how you can not only optimize it more for that term, but also how it functions within your campaign objectives. Ensure it has appropriate calls to action, ways for visitors to interact with you, or lead to the actions you deem as valuable. Sometimes with various website providers or content provided for some products, there are pages that exist that can be pure fluff, but rank for something. If you see a fluff page is ranking, give it teeth and make it useful.

Bid on Brand, or No?

Like most philosophical questions like this, the answer is, “depends.” If you have a strong brand that gets a lot of traffic to begin with, and others aren’t trying to capitalize on it, don’t waste your money. If you are growing your brand, and still needs traction in the marketplace, bidding on your own name is a good idea as it can lead to an additional impression, and having both a paid and organic listing showing on the same page has shown to improve even organic click through rates.

Some brands are strong in the marketplace, and others try to capitalize on searches for it in order to get people to consider something, or someone else. In these cases, it is beneficial to reserve some paid search budget as a defensive mechanism against poachers. Don’t let others steal from your good name! You don’t have to be aggressive with it, and spend a ton of money on your own name, but be there enough to make those trying to steal from you have to pay dearly for it.

Final Thoughts

Paid and organic search strategies can find balance when you consider the information available to you, especially with Google Search Console. Tailor the paid search strategy to the natural strength of your website – the higher the average position you have on a search term, the less aggressive you should bid on it as part of your paid search strategy. For relevant terms that have an average position of 7 or lower, ensure they are included in your paid search campaigns to give you a legitimate increase in overall relevant traffic to your site, and not just swap clicks between paid and organic.

This is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. As more people find your site, interact with it, and consume your content, your organic rankings will change, and so should your paid strategy. You may find that certain terms have greatly increased in organic relevance, and can now stand on their own because people are finding it relevant, so Google is now rewarding you with organic juice. Others may have slipped, and you need to add paid emphasis to it. Keep the scales balanced, and you’ll get the most bang for your efforts.