Why Online Merchants Should Combine SEM and SEO for Customer Acquisition

by bold-lichterman

Search engines are privileged channels for customer acquisition in e-commerce, and maintaining good SEO represents a real challenge for online merchants. Even though SEM and SEO both aim to improve search engine visibility, SEM is a CPC (cost per click) service, while SEO aims to optimize a site’s ranking in natural search results without paying anything. The drop in CPCs in Europe and the increase in click-through rates represent a good opportunity to turn to a paid SEO strategy, but organic SEO should not be put aside.

Is it better for merchants to invest their money in SEM or their time in SEO? Let’s explore the benefits of each of these techniques.

Why should online merchants use SEM?

Fast results

With SEM, good results can be achieved quite quickly. Of course, you’ll have to configure and optimize your campaigns in the AdWords interface, but once it’s done the right way, you’ll be able to see the first results almost instantly. With SEO, on the contrary, you will have to put in place a longer-term strategy, and reap the rewards of your efforts will take longer.

Better conversion rates

According to New Media Campaigns, PPC is slightly more beneficial, with paid search results 1.5 times more likely to generate conversions.

Direct control over your visibility

Even if you invest a lot of time in SEO, you won’t be guaranteed to appear in the best search results. There are many factors that go into PPC campaigns as well, but setting the bids plays a key role and increasing your budget can help you rank better in results.

Few optimizations to do on your site

While a good site structure helps improve your PPC rankings, it is not essential to do so in order to get good results with these types of campaigns. On the other hand, SEO requires that the structure of your site and its content be optimized to achieve good results.

Why use SEO in addition to SEM?

While these benefits may convince online merchants to rely on paid search, there are also many benefits to using SEO in addition to SEM in multi-channel strategies.

No additional direct costs

Aside from the time and effort spent creating qualitative content to structure it, SEO allows you to achieve results without incurring additional direct costs. SEM, on the other hand, requires a significant investment, especially for competitive keywords.

Improve brand awareness

As natural search results are very likely to generate traffic in the long term, the value of investing in an SEO strategy is obvious. One of its other benefits is the possibility of improving brand awareness. Assuming that you will be successful in getting your ads in paid results, appearing in organic results as well will help you strengthen your message and increase your brand visibility. Ultimately, the more your brand awareness increases, the more likely consumers are to trust you.

A long-term strategy

Creating quality content and optimizing your site for search engines will take time and effort, but it will allow you to drive continuous traffic to your site. Of course, you’ll need to stay alert to the latest search engine rules to make sure your actions stay effective.

As you can see, both SEO and SEM have their advantages, the most important point to remember is that they are complementary techniques.

For newly created sites, SEM will accelerate your brand awareness quickly, as users will begin to recognize and trust it. You can then adjust your investments once your organic visibility increases.

Herbert_Knibiehly_4Herbert Knibiehly is VP Marketing at Twenga Solutions. An expert in e-commerce, he has worked in France and the United States on Product Management, marketing and international development positions on behalf of major players in the sector such as eBay.

Twenga offers advanced AdWords and Google Shopping audience acquisition solutions, providing e-merchants with a drastic improvement in the ROI of their advertising spend.