Synergy [sin-er-jee]:

The interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements.

Fractured SEO and PPC teams are commonplace in marketing departments and agencies. Each team often focuses on words like ‘cannibalisation’, targeting insights research on how other channels will eat away at their revenue and challenge their claims for higher budgets. Whilst this strategy might produce end of year reports that look great against the rest of your marketing departments, it could be harming the overall progression of your company and brand as a whole. Working together and not against each other was drummed into us at school, but it hasn’t caught on yet in the search landscape.

This discord could be explained by the fact that an agency’s expertise will often lean more to one channel than the other, resulting in a knowledge gap. Solving this with another agency might help to turn the lagging channel up to eleven, but it could result in an overall flip-flopping of your margins. Finding an agency proficient in optimising both channels is difficult enough, but the key ingredient here is a data driven approach.

A hybrid approach

Using data, we can tie the whole picture into one. Just like hybrid drive on a car, we can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s use that metaphor and say that PPC is the petrol engine and SEO is the electronic counterpart. You put fuel into your paid search, otherwise it won’t run; it’s powerful and you see great short term returns from it, but when the fuel is gone the engine stops. This is where SEO comes in, it’s always there to give a battery powered back up, but its battery constantly needs recharging. Adding to the metaphor, we need to modulate and regenerate some of that power using a control unit to get the optimal performance margin.

The control unit refers to the use of data science to extract the working relationship between search channels. Summit has committed to understanding this synergy to allow the evolution of a cross channel strategy that can utilise the benefits and not just consider the negatives of neighbouring search mediums. Through statistical modelling, it is possible to identify how each channel affects each other and your overall margin.

Geo location testing can be used to see what happens when various channel attributes are turned on or off, but it gives little information about the effect of changing spend whilst keeping all channels on. This doesn’t consider the effects of your competitors stealing your traffic, or the effect of reduced targeting. Turning PPC off completely is probably the wrong decision, but discovering how each search term can be affected by its position on the page is the holy grail of the search centric strategy. This could be extremely helpful when planning brand campaigns, where increasing PPC spend has in some cases been seen to have a compounding effect on SEO traffic and revenue.

Increasing dimensionality with different types of PPC, such as shopping or targeted ads, can further increase your understanding of search synergy, and turn your Prius into a Formula One car. Accepting the fact that data holds the key will allow you to become a world class strategist.