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SEO and SEM: Get Your Page FIRST on the SERPS!

How Combining SEO and SEM Delivers the Strongest Outcomes It’s no secret that Finch is a marketing technology platform and many of our customers focus on driving their presence in…

Michelle Roberts
Michelle Roberts

Apr 30, 2019

How Combining SEO and SEM Delivers the Strongest Outcomes

It’s no secret that Finch is a marketing technology platform and many of our customers focus on driving their presence in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). And for a good reason: organic searches drive 51% of all traffic. To influence your conversions, you need to have a strong presence in the SERPs. Which is usually why many of our customers have asked us which is more critical: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing)?

The answer, in short, is both: having SEM and SEO working together is your best bet for overall success. Also, with tools like Spyfu, understanding your SEO and SEM tactics lets you optimize against your competition.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Regardless of how you spend your marketing budget, you need to ensure your SEO and SEM strategies complement one another. SEM and SEO working together practically guarantee the best proverbial bang for your back. PPC and SEO together is a winning solution.

Think about this way: SEO is a longtail approach that gets your site crawled by Google to help you rank better. Ultimately, the crawlers scour the internet, making sure your site has useful, relevant content. The more informative and accurate your content, the better you’ll rank. Additionally, you’ll want some killer UX and sound link patterns that connect you with sites that have high domain authority (DA).

Sounds easy enough, right? The only issue is that it usually takes a really, really long time to get there. Only a tiny percentage of pages make Google’s Top10 search results…within one year. Your pages need time to obtain higher (or lower) domain authorities–although there may be a “lucky few” who make it up quicker, rather than later. Needless to say, it’s best not to put your eggs in that basket.

So what can you do if you launch a new site and want people to see it quickly–rather than waiting for Google’s ranking? This is where SEM can boost your visibility! The so-called “pay-to-play” strategy can get your page above Google’s fold, provided you do it well.

How Does SEM Work?

Utilizing Google and Bing advertising platforms, you can create ads that will likely end up on the top of a SERP. You’ll want to do your homework and ensure your keywords are well-researched and easy to anticipate. Once you have a campaign set up, you can set your demographics to reach an audience you think will likely search for something relevant to your site.

For example, if you’re selling men’s powder skis, you’d want to include appropriately-modified keywords. You could include “men’s + powder + skis” instead of something generic like “good skis.” However, having a big list of keywords is a must for any success. It is not uncommon for retailers to bid on tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of keywords. Which, of course, can be incredibly daunting–which is why we highly recommend using a paid media automation platform.

In addition to the thousands of keywords and modifiers, you’ll want to ensure your advertising budgets are competitive. You also want to decide which business goals you want to optimize. Setting up KPIs like cost-per-click or cost-per-sales/return-on-ad-spend will help you determine ROIs and overall campaign effectiveness. Which, yes, means more tracking on your end! Alternatively, you can choose to automate with a powerful mar-tech platform and save your time focusing on strategy.

SEM and SEO Working Together

Once you have completed a technical SEO audit and set up your SEM campaigns, you’ll start to see results. To use an analogy, it’s somewhat similar to weeding a garden. You can use a chemical weed killer to get rapid results, a few times throughout the year (SEM). However, you can also take a day or two and cover your dirt in durable weed shields or wraps (SEO).

The latter may take much more effort, but you only have to do it once, and it lasts for seasons on end! The same goes for SEO: once done correctly, you won’t have to tinker with it much. Also, you can use the chemical spray for near-instant results throughout the year. Both are wins.

Regardless, the job gets done efficiently. Outside of the yard care metaphor, you’ll notice that running your paid ads while building SEO will do accomplish various tactics. You’ll see an increase in your click-through-rates (CTRs) and conversions. Using paid search and display will elevate your products above the competition in the SERPs. Most importantly, while your content-relevant and SEO-optimized site begins to build its traction and gain DA, you’ll still see the most important aspect: your business will continue to grow.


While SEO and SEM both require full-time dedication to be successful, they’re critical for success. There are many SEO and SEM strategies you can combine (such as optimizing for the same keywords to drive traffic). However, the main goal of each channel is the same: acquiring traffic and increasing your conversions. While SEO tactics may take several months to achieve results, you will see an impact from your SEM channels almost instantly.

Think of SEM as your “backup generator.” While you’re waiting for the power of your SEO to kick in, the SEM tactics will accomplish the work as a short-term solution. Additionally, if you provide great paid content on social media, your audience may find it enthralling. The benefits? They can share your content, getting it in front of others, without paying a cent more.

Ultimately, your keywords for either SEM or SEO should be very similar, if not the same. Keeping your keyword banks organized and structured is one of the most challenging parts of all digital marketing. Hence, we recommend utilizing A.I. and a reliable automation platform to structure your data.

Anything we didn’t cover? Reach out to us at or try a free audit, today, from your friends at Finch.


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