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Combining SEO and SEM – The Case Behind It

I see a lot of examples of companies outsourcing to two or more different agencies for each separate channel of advertising that they are working over, and while the thought mode behind it is rather clear – that outsourcing to the specialist in each field is the optimum way to spend your money, but there is a case against this reasoning.

Combining SEO and SEM to one agencies’ control poses a number of advantages over having them handled individually.

United Strategy

By having SEO and SEM run by a single agency the ability to operate both channels with a united strategy is far easier to successfully implement. A united strategy within SEM and SEO allows a cohesive message to be presented through both channels, while also allowing immediate communication between the two channels if a particular aspect needs to be changed. Now while you can argue that communication is as simple as picking up a phone or sending an email, these is still nothing like face to face communication to get a point across, especially when looking at the same thing at the same time. This especially becomes an issue when you consider the fact that agencies don’t often like asking one another for help, instead preferring to keep their work to themselves.

Keyword Research

SEO campaigns are heavily involved in the analytics of a campaign. While SEM can get access to this, it can be hard to gleam true insights from these analytics accounts without constant access. SEOers tend to look at this analytics data more and also tend to have access to it, which often doesn’t happen with SEM, so it is advantageous for SEM campaigns to get feedback from the SEO campaigns.

Additionally when working with keywords it can therefore be advantageous to get the SEO campaign to be optimized for the more expensive keyword, allowing optimization of less expensive keywords (which can be just as relevant) through SEM, and thereby reducing the overall cost of the campaign while maximizing the overall coverage for keywords.

Another strategy that can be put in place is to create a unification in the keywords and searchers that SEO and SEM show up for. This means that whenever someone searches a relevant search term both the listing in the organic ranking and the paid rankings show up as results. By having more of your listings showing up the perceived relevancy of the site is far greater and this is almost always reflected through an improved the click through rate in both listings, and helps make your brand appear to be an authority in the area.

Testing Keywords

SEO is a time consuming process to optimize for, especially for keywords, where as it can be a lot quicker to run a short SEM campaign to get an understanding of what keywords the site should be optimizing for, this can then be fed back to the SEO and implemented with a lot less trial and error and reduce the time it takes to reach optimum levels for the campaign.

Uniting Copy & Creative’s

Through having a singular call to action between both SEO and SEM the quality of both campaigns are improved, as the same language and messages that are being conveyed in one campaign can be conveyed in the other as well. This helps ensure the best possible click through rates and provides are more cohesive message, keeping the brand image consistent.

Faster Responses and Streamlined Actions

Through a united strategy, responses to changing situations are also able to be more quickly changed, as negative or positive features from one campaign can then be used to help target and organize the other campaign.

While reacting to changes can be done in individually run campaigns, it tends to be a lot less detailed as there is a requirement of constant feedback, and channels aren’t likely to be as streamlined in their actions and goals at separate agencies as if they were handled by a single agent.

These changes also don’t generally encompass any small change that could be made to optimize campaigns but rather only larger ones. This is primarily the case because the time and effort it takes to communicate these changes between agencies can be too costly and time consuming to be worthwhile. This can have a great effect on the performance of campaigns as it’s often the small periodic changes can assist greatly with optimization of campaigns and if they aren’t followed in both channels then it can leave sections not maximizing their potential.

Single Channel of Communication

By running both campaigns through a single agent you, as a client don’t need to spend as much time and effort communicating exactly what you want from the campaign and how it’s being run. Through only having a single channel of communication for both campaigns, you be able to provide a much more focused and clear representation of how you want to present the brand. Using the united strategy you won’t need to go through the whole strategy with two separate entities and will generally be clearer as SEO and SEM can communicate together with you to provide a cohesive strategy that take the greatest advantage of both channels.

Billing Convenience

Similar to having a single channel of communication you (the client) are again saved the effort of going through two channels to work out billing. Additionally by working with a single agent you can change the focus of the digital campaign between SEM and SEO if one or the other needs a particular emphasis at any time without issue of pre-billed hours/spend as it is all the same money going to the one company and doesn’t therefore doesn’t need to argue with you as to why they should keep their budget and you should cut it from the other channel and agency.


There are many advantages posed to clients through operating their SEM and SEO through the one company. While separate agencies can provide a cheaper price, it is often the case of you pay for what you get, and by combining them you can still gain cost efficiencies that are fantastic not only in their price point, but the quality of the campaign as well. By combining them within a single agency you not only get a more flexible strategy, but often times a more united, reactive and detailed one than if they were operated separately.

If you have your SEM and SEO operating with two separate agencies then I highly recommend you review their performance and consider having both channels run by a single agency. Not only will you find the ease of management a simpler task, but it will also often provide some great strategic advantages.

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