Maybe it is just the constant shifting in tactics as a discipline becomes mature, but I’ve watched so many trends in search marketing over the years that it is easy to become jaded–to think that search marketing is dead, or that all of this stuff is “inside baseball” and nothing really matters. But I am starting to see more and more clients wake up to a new way to approach search marketing that makes a ton of sense for a large organization–the unified search strategy.

In the beginning (in this case, the late ’90s), there was SEO, and it was enough that you had a search strategy. Then came PPC, and while Bill Hunt and I argued (in our book) that you should work on them both together, the industry disagreed, insisting in treating them each as specialties divided by a common set of keywords. (OK, that was sarcasm.)

Recently Bill and I have argued in the third edition of our book (and elsewhere) that co-optimization of SEO and PPC programs actually can bring better performance. The optimized content needed for SEO can improve PPC quality scores, and the improved conversion rates of PPC landing pages improves sales from SEO. Is it harder to do? Yes. Can it be worth the effort? Absolutely.

I have had two companies in the last two weeks seek me out requesting this kind of unified search strategy. Is that a trend? I hope so.

But I am upping the ante on them. Why stop at unifying SEO and PPC? I have two other clients that I am working with that I am helping to include website search optimization, also. (Do we call that WSO? Everything needs a TLA–three-letter acronym.)

The truth is that searcher behavior is fairly uniform across SEO, PPC, and WSO. Keywords are exactly the same for SEO and PPC, and similar for WSO. Content optimization is similar between SEO and WSO. “Suggested matches” in WSO are similar to PPC ads. And unifying these disciplines allows you to learn from what happens in one to improve the other.

As the search marketing discipline matures, you can’t leave any stone unturned to find your edge. Don’t miss out on unified search strategy. If you wait, your competitor will get the advantage, and you will be spending the money to do it in two years just to catch up.