Paid versus Natural Search, the end of the battle 

As part of the I Spy University, all I Spy employees have to complete the Google Adwords Fundamentals exam. I must confess that in the beginning I was slightly reluctant as I work in the Natural Search team and the exam focuses on Paid Search. Aren’t paid and natural search completely different disciplines?

I have been to conferences on Internet Marketing where specialists on paid and natural search would go head to head on which of them offers the best return on investment. “If you had £100, in which service would you invest”? Each side had good arguments, but I would always support the natural search team – no matter what.

However, now that I am studying for the GAF exam and learning more about paid search I am beginning to think differently. If I was to attend one of these battle sessions again I would see no point in even having the discussion. Why would you put all your eggs in one basket in the first place? Besides, Google Adwords can complement and help to provide more information on any natural search campaign. Here are some examples on how:

Paid search campaigns provide quick answers:

A paid search campaign can tell a lot about your company’s keywords in a short period of time. Information such as the keywords with the highest click-through rate, the highest conversion and those with a high bounce rate is available soon after the campaign has gone live. All this data can and should be used for developing a natural search strategy.

If you know that some keywords convert well, you will want your website showing up on organic results for them, as it will give you more visibility and a better overall return from the search channel. The keywords that convert better for you are normally the same to your competitors and have the most expensive bids. A Natural search team can optimise the website and focus link building efforts on those keywords.

In the same way, you might want to create some content for those keywords with a high bounce rate, as it suggests that potential customers are not finding the information they are looking for within your site.

This sort of data about your keywords and your audience can only help you to attract the right people to your site and provide them with the information they are searching for. And this is what natural search optimisation is about.

Keywords and Landing Page recommendations

On paid search, ads showing up for keywords highly related to their landing pages’ content have their quality score improved and rank better for a lower cost per click. On natural search it is just as important to ensure that each page is optimised for their own specific group of similar keywords, as they will have much better chances to rank.

Recommendations from Google Adwords for a great landing page should also be followed by the natural search team when optimizing the pages content:

  • Relevant and Original Content;
  • Transparency into the nature of your business, how your site interacts with a visitor’s computer and how you intend to use a visitor’s personal information;
  • Navigability, i.e. providing a short and easy path for a user to purchase or receive the product or offer in your ad;

Link building ideas

The more links pointing to your site the better. True, but links on relevant sites to your industry are much more valuable.

Every time an adwords campaign in created, its ads are automatically shown across the Google content network. Google looks for relevant matches with your keywords and shows your ads in pages that contain the same subject that your audience would be interested in. And take note: links from your ads do not count for link building.

However, a page that Google judges good for your ad has great chances of being great for a link. Google Adwords can give some potential link building ideas for your natural search team by checking where your ads have been shown.

In conclusion, even though natural and paid search are indeed two different disciplines, integrating these can offer huge advantages. Here at I Spy there are no battles; when it comes to delivering our clients the best ROI, we are all on the same side.

Published at I Spy Blog