Anyone who works for an online marketing company has been asked this question. Should I put my budget toward PPC or organic rankings? Should I optimize my site for good SEO or focus on AdWords? Most online marketing agencies have evolved past the point of making a black and white argument for one or the other, but the debate still continues…often due to limited budget. Along with the cooperative approach we bring to our clients and their goals, we also work to build a cooperative approach between SEM and SEO. Here are a few ways we help clients navigate that decision.

Do Your Homework

Have your online marketing team spend some time evaluating your keyword goals and taking notes on the competition. Competitive research can be tricky to interpret, but it’s good to know where you stand in the pack. A few hours of research performed by an experienced online marketing firm will give you plenty of information to go on. Good keyword research will help drive both SEM and SEO, so spending some time up front will pay dividends in the short run as well as the long run.

Set Your Site Up for Good Organic Rankings

Even if you don’t plan on spending lots of time building organic rankings or you plan to strongly focus on SEM, take the time to build SEO best practices into your site. An SEO audit will tell you exactly where to improve, and spending a handful of hours optimizing the site today will build the foundation for good rankings and will benefit SEM as well if you plan on using the site as a source of landing pages for paid search. Also, a good SEO firm will give you short and long term options, so you can use a staged approach to building good SEO.

Good SEO Takes Time, SEM Tests Can Be Short

If there is a valid case to be made for both SEO and SEM, start with good onsite optimization, then consider an SEM test. In a few weeks you should have a good idea if your current setup is built for paid advertising, and if your users are responding well. Websites and user behavior won’t stay the same forever, but if PPC or Display advertising doesn’t bear fruit in your first test, spend your time and budget on SEO until there is compelling evidence for a second test.

To sum it all up, a blended approach to SEM and SEO can seem daunting from the outside, but an experienced online marketing agency can help change an ‘either / or’ question into a cohesive strategy that fits your goals and budget. There are lots of moving parts in both the SEM and SEO worlds, but every company with an online component stands to gain from both approaches to good online marketing. If you have questions about how to approach your online marketing, get in touch and we can help you get started.