3 ways to easily connect your paid and organic search strategies

By Meghan Burton
18th August 2021

All too often, paid and organic search teams operate in silos; measuring results solely based on the performance of one or the other without considering the impact that they should have together.

When run well, paid and organic search should complement each other, playing on each other’s strengths rather than consistently competing for the same traffic.

But it’s clear that this isn’t as straightforward as it could be, or more brands would take advantage of this strategy to make the most of their investment.

Here are 3 simple ways that you can ensure your money is stretching as far as it can.

1. Check on your brand performance

It’s very common to see brands bidding on their own brand keywords with no sign of paid search competition in sight. If not kept in check, this is a very easy way to spend money that you really don’t need to be spending – if someone has specifically searched for your brand, and your organic result is top, there is very little need to be paying for clicks that you would have received already.

There are exceptions to this, of course – if a competitor does start bidding on your brand, you’ll want to make sure you appear as well, so it’s worth closely monitoring.

In addition, paid search does often offer you opportunities to highlight various areas of your site, promotions, or make use of other search features in a way organic doesn’t.

If this is the case (and your brand CPCs are low) then you may still want to continue, but bear in mind this will likely have an impact on organic and cost a bit more than otherwise.

2. Review your positions side-by-side

A good, if possibly time consuming, tactic to save a bit of cash is to compare where you perform on average across both paid and organic search results.

This can give you a good indication of whether your paid search is actually delivering you traffic that your organic results wouldn’t pick up anyway – if you’re (typically) appearing in first position across both paid and organic, it’s likely you can drop your paid search spend and still pick up the majority of clicks, depending on the cost per click of that particular term.

You can also turn this on its head – if you’re doing exceptionally well gaining paid traffic for a set of terms but your organic rankings aren’t great, it’s a good target for your SEO team to start working on.

Although organic search will take longer to show results, once you hit that top 5 you begin driving traffic and typically enjoy a stronger ROI than paid can drive alone. You can then move around your paid search budget to areas where organic isn’t performing as well or the competition is lower to save money.

3. Test turning it on and off again

If you’re in doubt of what the results might look like, a test is key. Compare a one week period with both running against a one week period with no paid search.

This is best done in sections rather than across all of your ads, which can be dangerous – and for low traffic volumes you might need to extend the test. For example, testing with brand on and off is a useful experiment – exactly how much does organic pick up when paid search isn’t running?

This can reassure those who might worry about cutting brand spend in our top tip, but we often find when running tests like this that there is a halo effect – paid and organic search together do result in more traffic, but of course every paid click carries a small cost.

Running a test like this can help you determine whether those incremental sales or leads are worth the investment that you’re paying to get them, or whether your budget is best spent elsewhere. With that investment, you might consider running a PR campaign, paid social, or programmatic display advertising to increase your brand presence elsewhere, rather than convert mostly searchers you would already have captured via organic.

While these ideas might seem simple, it is always surprising how often agencies and even in-house teams operate alone. If you’d like help connecting the dots between your services, get in touch.


Meghan is Wolfenden's Operations Director, working across our production teams to maintain our high standards of work whilst playing a pivotal role in setting the multichannel strategies for some of our biggest clients.

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