In 2023, marketers plan to spend more on paid and organic search despite data deprecation and economic headwinds. According to Forrester’s Q3 B2C Marketing CMO Pulse Survey, 2022, 82% of CMOs plan to increase paid search budgets and 74% plan to increase SEO budgets in 2023.

As search budgets grow, the medium is changing radically. The search engine results page (SERP), for example, is now more visual than ever. It features videos and image extensions that appeal to growing Millennial and Gen Z audiences, who find photos and videos especially helpful when making purchase decisions. As the SERP becomes richer, zero-click searches are rising, which means that consumers get their questions answered instantly but also that marketers who rely on clicks to measure search’s impact are losing signal.

These changes create new opportunities for marketers, but many organizations are not designed to capitalize on them. Too often, paid and organic search teams have competing incentives, as search engine marketing (SEM) practitioners are goaled on immediate return on advertising spend, while search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners are goaled on outcomes such as domain authority, which builds slowly. This misalignment between SEM and SEO intensifies when brands have one agency running SEO and another running SEM, causing stakeholders to fight for budget.

To capitalize on search marketing’s evolution, marketers must synergize SEM and SEO. We have two new reports that can help marketers do that:

  • Implement Holistic Search Marketing To Win The Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This report explains the benefits of holistic search marketing, including marketers’ potential to grow organic-assisted revenue for SEM campaigns by using SEO to fill the funnel with first-touch new users via non-brand queries. In addition, it explains how marketers can view the SERP as a single entity and develop more compelling content now that TikTok and Instagram content can help brands gain visibility on the SERP, then recommends four steps to implement holistic search marketing. When marketers complete these steps, they can avoid keyword cannibalization, reverse-engineer better performance, and run incrementality tests to increase revenue without increasing budget.
  • The SEO Competency Assessment Tool. This tool helps marketers evaluate their SEO competency across five domains: strategy, organization, technology, execution, and optimization. This assessment acknowledges that SEO remains an effective way for brands to better understand their customers while growing reach and relevance with distinctive, authoritative content. In fact, SEO generates more than half of site traffic, and what’s good for SEO, like a mobile-friendly UI and a fast, responsive website, is good for customer experience. But the rise of zero-click searches and the increasing monetization of the SERP, especially for non-brand queries on mobile, where SEO real estate is shrinking, challenge marketers to evolve and refine their SEO strategies and processes. This tool responds to that need by helping marketers benchmark and improve their SEO maturity.

If you’re interested in learning more about holistic search marketing and SEO maturity, click here to set up a guidance session or an advisory with me. In addition, stay tuned for upcoming research on how to plan, buy, and optimize retail media.