Reimagining ROAS: The Strategic Role of SEO in Paid Advertising Campaigns

In this article I will (try to) present a compelling case for marketing managers to view SEO not only as a growth channel but as a pivotal component of paid advertising strategies, thus maximizing Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) by securing a dominant presence on search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO is traditionally seen mainly as a tool to enhance organic search visibility and improve website user experience. However, when synergistically combined with paid marketing strategies, SEO can extend its benefits beyond mere organic visibility

The crucial intersection of these strategies comes into play during the customer journey. For instance, a user initially drawn to your website through a paid ad might leave without converting. Later, they might search for your brand, influenced by the ad’s impression.

At this stage, effective On-SERP SEO ensures that what they find is under your control—be it your official website, positive reviews, or compelling brand content. This control is vital, as it steers their journey back to your site, potentially leading to conversion.

Why is this important? If this user visits your website, they will show up in your analytics as an organic visit when, in fact, you are paying for it.

This integration of SEO with paid advertising transforms SEO from a conventional growth tactic into a powerful retargeting/remarketing tool that not only captures but recaptures interest, guiding potential customers through the sales funnel more effectively.

By embracing this broader perspective, marketing managers can leverage SEO to enhance both immediate conversions and long-term brand loyalty while optimizing their budgets and ROAS.

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategic Integration: Aligning SEO with paid efforts maximizes the effectiveness of both, enhancing visibility and engagement through controlled messaging and optimized user experiences.
  • On-SERP SEO: Managing all SERP elements, including traditional listings, social profiles, review sites, and more, is crucial for maintaining a positive and consistent brand presence that supports conversion goals.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Utilizing advanced analytics and attribution models provides actionable insights that can refine and justify the allocation of budgets, by demonstrating a clear impact of SEO on ROAS.

A key insight for marketers is understanding how paid marketing campaigns directly influence organic search behavior—specifically, branded search traffic. The interplay between these elements is a critical factor in both acquiring and re-acquiring customer interest.

When users are exposed to ads (or marketing emails, or social media posts), the brand becomes more top-of-mind, which often leads to an increase in branded searches. This phenomenon is where the initial paid interaction serves as a catalyst, prompting users to independently seek out more information about the brand through organic search channels. 

For example, a user who encounters a targeted ad might later search for reviews or additional products offered by the brand, manifesting an interest initially sparked by the paid ad.

Research supports this linkage; studies have shown a measurable increase in organic search volume following robust digital advertising campaigns. According to Google, search ads can increase brand awareness by up to 80%, indirectly boosting the visibility of organic search listings as well (source: Think with Google). This increase not only drives direct traffic but also reinforces brand recall and loyalty.

Branded Search Considerations

  • Increased Traffic: Post-ad interaction, the surge in branded search can lead to increased traffic, which, if properly managed through SEO, can significantly boost conversion rates.
  • Higher Conversion Potential: Users searching for a brand by name are typically further along in the buying process, making them more likely to convert than those who land on the brand through non-branded, generic searches.
  • Competitive Edge: Dominating the SERP for branded searches ensures that potential customers are not diverted to competitors. Effective SEO helps maintain this edge by optimizing branded content and leveraging search engine marketing techniques that prioritize your listings over competitors’.

Investing in SEO enhances the effectiveness of paid marketing efforts by ensuring that when this increase in branded searches occurs, the brand’s digital footprint is ready to convert interest into action.

This strategic integration not only captures but maximizes customer engagement, turning casual browsers into committed buyers, and in turn making SEO and organic traffic being effectively retargeting and remarketing activities.

The question, then is: if people will be looking for my brand, why do I need to invest in SEO? Won’t Google automatically show my website to these users?

If only it was this simple…

The Crucial Role of On-SERP SEO

On-SERP SEO, or “on the Search Engine Results Page SEO,” involves optimizing the various elements that appear directly on the search results page to ensure your brand dominates these listings when users search for related terms.

This strategy goes beyond traditional SEO, which focuses on ranking your website’s pages higher. Instead, On-SERP SEO aims to optimize all content and features associated with your brand that Google might display—such as featured snippets, knowledge panels, local business listings, and more.

Visual elements of the search results pages (Source: Google)

On-SERP SEO plays a vital role in ensuring that when potential customers search for your brand following a paid campaign, they encounter content that positively reflects and supports your marketing objectives.

Dominating the SERP for branded terms is critical; it’s not just about visibility, but about controlling the narrative and ensuring that the top results support the customer journey from awareness to conversion, making it an essential aspect of any remarketing and retargeting strategies.

This is even more important when we realize that even if you search for a brand on Google, not all results will be controlled by this brand, so this branded traffic can easily become a double-edged sword (especially if you are an early stage startup that still doesn’t have a strong SEO presence).

Key Aspects of On-SERP SEO

  1. Controlled Brand Messaging: When users search for your brand, the SERP acts as your business card (Google is, in effect, your homepage). Effective On-SERP SEO ensures that the top results are dominated by your website, positive reviews, recent news, and other content you control. This level of control is crucial for maintaining brand integrity and reinforcing the messaging initiated by your paid campaigns.
  2. Mitigation of Negative Impressions: If not managed well, negative content such as bad reviews or unfavorable news can dominate the search results for your brand. A proactive On-SERP SEO strategy helps manage your online reputation by promoting positive content and addressing negative issues strategically.
  3. Enhancing User Experience with Rich Results: This involves optimizing your presence on SERPs with rich results like structured snippets, FAQs, and other schema markups that make your listings more informative and visually appealing. Such enhancements improve click-through rates and user engagement directly from the search results.
  4. Strategic Use of SERP Features: Optimizing for Google’s SERP features, such as Knowledge Panels, Featured Snippets, and Local SEO (including Google Maps), is crucial. These features are prominent and can significantly influence user behavior by providing quick and accessible information that can enhance brand perception and drive decision-making.

By fully owning your brand’s SERP, you ensure that any increase in branded search volume, often a result of your paid campaigns, translates into controlled, positive interactions. This level of strategic SEO management builds a consistent and authoritative digital presence, which is crucial for leveraging the full potential of your integrated marketing efforts.

Practical Steps for Integrating SEO with Paid Advertising Strategies

Successfully integrating SEO with your paid advertising strategies involves a series of actionable steps that ensure your marketing efforts are not just aligned, but synergistic, enhancing both reach and impact. An essential part of this integration includes not only traditional SEO tactics but also the strategic management of all types of search results that Google might display.

1. Control Diverse SERP Assets: Extend your SEO efforts to manage and optimize all possible SERP results. This includes not only your main website pages but also social network profiles, Wikipedia pages, review websites, and any other content that could appear in search results. Effective management of these assets ensures that all information about your brand presented in SERPs positively reflects and supports your marketing objectives, since YOU will be in control of them.

2. Align Keywords and Landing Pages Across Channels: Ensure that the keywords targeted in your SEO efforts complement those used in your paid advertising and that both have optimized landing pages. This alignment helps reinforce your brand’s messaging across organic and paid search, providing a consistent experience for potential customers.

3. Leverage Branded Content Marketing: Use content marketing to support both SEO and paid strategies for searches targeting your brand. High-quality, valuable content can improve your SEO rankings while also serving as compelling material for remarketing campaigns, particularly through email or social media platforms, especially if these target bottom-of-the-funnel searches related to your product cost, quality or support.

4. Regularly Review and Adjust Strategies: Digital marketing is dynamic, so regular reviews of campaign performance are essential. Use the data from attribution models and analytics to understand what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust your strategies accordingly. This might involve shifting budget allocations between SEO and paid ads based on performance or re-targeting based on new keyword insights.

5. Foster Collaboration Between SEO and Paid Search Teams: Encourage regular communication and collaboration between your SEO and paid search teams. Shared goals and integrated strategies can lead to a more cohesive digital marketing approach, maximizing the impact of both channels.

By following these practical steps, marketing managers can ensure that their SEO and paid advertising efforts are not just aligned but are mutually reinforcing, leading to improved overall performance and a better ROAS.

1 thought on “Reimagining ROAS: The Strategic Role of SEO in Paid Advertising Campaigns”

  1. Pingback: Branded Traffic: the SEO you need even if you don’t need SEO - Andre Guelmann

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