BlogHeikki Pieniniemi 01.04.2018

SEM = SEA + SEO. A wise marketer now combines keyword advertising and search engine optimizationing. 

Marketing development Digital marketing Search engine marketing

Effectively increasing customer flows begins with three simple actions. The first step is to look at search engine marketing (SEM) as a broader whole. The second step is to renew the way we work according to the pace of change in the search world. And the third step is to leverage expertise in the right places. We interviewed Dagmar’s Sini Liila and Inka Santala about the topic. 

Sini Liila (vas.) ja Inka Santala

What does search engine marketing cover? 

Sini: The abbreviation SEM is often misunderstood, especially in Finland. Many interpret it to mean only keyword advertising, which makes the message rise to the advertising position on the first page of search results. In fact, SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing – which is a much broader entity. At the same time, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), i.e. the optimization work done on the site, is often combined only with the technical development of the content and platform, and not at all with marketing. In reality, SEM covers both, both paid and organic, i.e. free, search engine visibility. 

Inka: Paid keyword advertising and organic visibility are often thought of as two different channels with separate conversion goals. This leads to the fact that results, resources and even factors may compete with each other. 

Why is it important to combine SEA and SEO right now? 

Sini: The situation has changed a lot in a short period of time. Now, Google uses artificial intelligence (AI) to select results, which is constantly learning at a fast pace. Even Google’s AI itself doesn’t know what it knows in the morning. It is no longer possible to generalise about organic growth through manual studies or with the human brain alone, but the matter must be investigated on a case-by-case basis. It is sometimes very laborious, sometimes even impossible. For this reason, keyword advertising has started to be used more and more, for example, for testing. It’s faster and easier. 

Inka: Tärkeintä on katsoa kokonaisuutta. Vaihdamme SEOn ja SEAn välillä tietoa aktiivisesti ja koulutamme toisiamme, koska molempien alueet muuttuvat ja kehittyvät koko ajan. Kehitämme myös yhteisiä työkaluja ja tuotamme aitoa kasvua näkyvyydessä. 

Are there things SEA can do and SEO can’t? Or vice versa? 

Inka: For example, when a new product is launched in a new product group and a search term needs to be caught quickly, paid keyword advertising is a much faster channel. On the other hand, when there is pressure to spend the budget on something other than one expensive search term, traffic can be directed to organic results, or more content can be created on the site to improve the relevance – and thus the price – of the paid term. 

How quickly can SEO improve visibility? 

How quickly can SEO improve visibility? 

Sini: Even in a few days. When the domain is strong and in good condition, visibility can be gained quickly. Sometimes it can take time, but almost all sites can help. Especially with a domain with less oxygen, it can take a long time to get your site in order. The goal of keyword advertising and search engine optimization is often dominance, i.e. to get to the number one spot in both paid advertising and organic – and in addition to these, there is also a desire  for Google’s instant search site, i.e. the so-called search site. To zero place. 

Isn’t it a waste to show up in both organic and paid places? 

Inka: An organic search result is usually clicked more often than an ad placement result. Even if advertising gets you to the first places quickly, you can lose clicks if the organic result is not immediately visible. Also, the text in your keyword ads doesn’t always succeed in being relevant, even if your account is carefully built. In this case, a high-quality organic result that is correct at the title and inspiration level may save the situation. 

And what are the benefits of SEO on SEA’s side?

Inka: For example, when a search term is really expensive and Google thinks it’s irrelevant. Then we can take advantage of search engine optimization, for example, by adding related content to the site. The main thing is to watch the results grow as a whole. For example, maximizing the visibility of paid advertising doesn’t cannibalize organic visibility. 

When does paid keyword advertising cannibalize organic visibility? 

Inka: Pure brand terms often have good paid and organic visibility and clickbait. However, if the paid visibility is only 80%, and we increase it to 100% by increasing the budget, then most likely the increase in paid clicks will be at the expense of organic clicks. 

If, on the paid side, we search for more search terms that we don’t “own” yet, we can reach customers that we wouldn’t reach organically. Organic traffic will not decrease, but the number of visitors received through paid will increase. 

Sini: This is exactly what we learn when SEA and SEO are done closely together. We can also react quickly when, for example, we notice that we are eating from a load that is important for sales. If the employees are in different companies with different profit targets, competition may arise to maximize customer flow through “own” channels. It is not in the customer’s interest. 

What does the future of search engine marketing look like? 

Sini: In search engine optimization, we are moving from a term-based search engine world to thought-, intent-, idea- and context-based search. Even if a site doesn’t show a specific search term at all, Google may already theoretically think it’s the best search result for that term. Applicant’s location, previous searches, etc. affect what results Google thinks they want or need. When it comes to the Finnish language, we are still a bit behind, but changes in the search engine world are known to happen quickly, so you should definitely be prepared for this as well. 

Inka: That’s the future of SEO, on the paid search side, we’re still pretty firmly attached to keywords. 

How is artificial intelligence (AI) utilized in keyword advertising? 

Inka: Artificial intelligence serves search advertising better and better. For example, it allows us to catch relevant long tail searches that can contain an entire sentence instead of a single search term. AI is capable of considering several variables. Logged-in visitors, for example, age, gender and device, depending on the algorithm, even in real time. Some AIs can create new keywords themselves and test them to find the ones that work best. We have many partners whose AIs work very differently. We choose the best option according to the customer. 

How is artificial intelligence (AI) utilized in search engine optimization? 

Sini: Dagmar Drive has developed its own artificial intelligence solution that also supports search engine optimization. As the search world has become more contextual and semantic, we are increasingly asked questions that we could not answer without it. For example, what will trend next year and what does it mean in terms of terms, searches or visibility in general. Now we can harness the machine to study silent signals. We get more accurate and “SEO” information than traditional trend research. For example, when a term appears in different sources with a certain interval and increasing at a certain speed, the machine, as it were, alerts us to check if it has potential. 

What is done with the data detected by AI?

Sini: At the moment, information is used especially in content production. How to get to the game positions earlier, so that when things trend, the search engine position is already ready. Some of our customers are even looking for information to support product development. Our AI tracks relevant online discussions or blogs. For example, manually following bloggers identified as pioneers would be too slow, even impossible. The machine can easily monitor them continuously. 

How does search engine marketing support web service development? 

Inka: Our work and the customer’s result are very much dependent on how the site works. That’s why you should definitely use what we learned from search engine marketing in your website development. 

Sini: In order to get the most out of search engine optimization, web service development must also be convenient. It must stay awake and be ready to make changes. What is easy and fast for a coder is not always SEO-friendly. You can happily involve us right at the beginning of your website development project; We help you save a lot of work and worry in many things and maximize the flow of customers to your site.

Do you also help create search engine-friendly content? 

Sini: Absolutely! Our content specialists have all received SEO training. In addition, in Dagmar, SEO experts also create search engine optimized content when needed. 


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