Large companies do something that small companies often can’t do—they specialize. But those specialties can sometimes work against them, because they attack problems in such separate ways that they never find the advantages that accrue from working together. SEO and PPC are often handled by different teams in large enterprises, which makes sense in some ways. One area where it makes little sense, however, is keyword research.

You might have many reasons for having separate teams for SEO and PPC, but this silo approach has implications for keyword research that should trouble you. Although it is true that keywords that work for paid search might not work for organic, and vice versa, a large piece of keyword research has nothing to do with paid and organic—it is about market segmentation and about searcher intent.

Some of you might be objecting at this point. Yes, it’s true that there is a limit to the number of keywords that you can optimize with organic search. At a certain point, you can’t keep adding pages to the navigation of your Web site. And you need to make decisions about which synonyms you want to emphasize. And, yes, you need to make hard decisions about which long tail keywords you need to leave behind in SEO. But all of the rest of your keywords can be managed jointly by the paid and organic search teams.

The most advanced search marketing programs recognize that keyword research should be a joint effort between the SEO and PPC teams. Most of those keywords should be shared between both teams, with an additional set of deeper keywords that should be part of paid search campaigns only. Unfortunately, few companies do it that way.  Our own survey of Keyword Management best practices shows only one percent of companies have looked at paid and organic search together, which is exactly what you must do for keyword research.

While specialization is needed, especially in large companies, too much specialization in keyword research is counterproductive. In search, keywords are your market segments, and your prospects and customers signal what they are interested in based on the words that they use.

Take an example of a keyword that converts very well in your paid campaign but badly for organic search. With a silo approach, your paid team will pour resources into that word while your organic team might conclude that it should not be focused on that keyword—which likely be completely wrong. Also, you could be spending a lot of money on clicks for paid search since they are important but not even be on the list for the SEO team.

The searchers using that keyword are the same people for your paid and organic campaign. If the paid search ad works, it is worth some time to explore how to improve the organic performance to achieve the magical 1 + 1 = 3 that all the research shows is possible.

When your PPC and SEO teams collaborate on keyword research, you uncover these opportunities far more often than when they are left to their own devices. There are certainly places for specialization in digital marketing, but search keyword research isn’t one of them.

We have taken a lot of the thinking and Excel wizardry off the table by integrating these common questions into our Keyword Opportunity Models.  If you are ready for more information or a demo contact us to get started.