Holistic Search Strategy for Total Search Performance

Holistic Search Strategy for Total Search Performance
Ramesh Karki |
Holistic Search Strategy for Total Search Performance

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) teams are both impacted by search algorithm updates and SERP feature fluctuations. These changes can lead to sudden declines in visibility, rank, and clicks, which are often unexplained by Google performance reports. As Google search marketing has become more dynamic and competitive, siloed organic and paid search teams are no longer effective. This approach can lead to wasted marketing resources and a poor customer experience. To ensure your business is available to customers and provides an excellent shopping experience, you need a holistic search strategy. This means integrating SEO and SEM efforts, as well as considering the entire customer’s  shopping journey.

If you are a business trying to get to the next level, it is necessary to integrate your search efforts into a Holistic Search Strategy.

Traditionally, when marketers refer to holistic search or total search, they mean using data from AdWords, Google Analytics, and Search Console in a single report. This allows SEO and SEM analysts to collaborate and refer to the same data. However, this is not enough to truly address the concept of a holistic total search strategy.

To truly understand your search performance, you need to consider external factors as well. These factors include your dynamic search marketing, the competitive landscape, search algorithm updates, and Google’s ever-changing intent to maximize SERP CTR. Marketers do not have access to this data from Google. As a result, emerging tools like Search Intelligence platforms , which are built with granular SERP monitoring data, are becoming increasingly popular to fill this gap in search marketing.

In this article, we will explore the concept of holistic or total search and how it can be used to maximize your search marketing performance. We will discuss how to integrate paid and organic search efforts to improve visibility, clicks, and conversions. We will also cover how to effectively mobilize your budget across paid and organic campaigns to boost your return on ad spend (ROAS).

What is a Holistic Search Strategy?

A holistic search strategy integrates paid and organic search efforts, eliminating silos between SEM and SEO teams. By considering the entire SERP landscape, it optimizes total visibility, clicks, and conversions. With this approach, both paid and organic specialists can respond promptly to customer needs and stay updated on SERP changes, fostering synergy and avoiding duplicative efforts.

Key Benefits of Holistic Search Strategy

1. Keyword planning – Common starting points for SEM and SEO teams

In the holistic search strategy, proactive keyword planning is a key starting point for both SEM and SEO teams. Through in-depth analysis, you gain insights into keyword popularity by demographics, search volume, competitiveness, CPC ( cost-per-click), SERP features, and ad content analytics. This collaborative approach allows both teams to work together from the outset, grouping keywords into segments to prioritize activities and maximize SERP space efficiently and within budget constraints. Having all the necessary information at hand enables a comprehensive ad and content strategy for targeted keywords.

2. SERP Watch – Track SERP Changes

As a Marketer, staying on top of Google’s frequent algorithm changes can be challenging. To effectively monitor the potential impact of these changes, the best approach is to monitor the SERPs of the keywords you are targeting. This will help you stay informed and adapt your strategies accordingly.

Track SERP Components - Above and Below the fold coverage

It is important to track SERP features and fluctuations to understand how they impact your search performance. This includes tracking new search features, positional shifts of current SERP components, and emerging competitions over time.

Another factor to track is content performance. This includes tracking the performance of your own content, as well as the content of your competitors. By tracking all of these factors, you can gain insights into the key fluctuations that you should incorporate in your holistic search strategies.

3. Strategic Budget Mobilization for Cost Saving

SERP formats and competition are constantly evolving, and search visibility can vary depending on location. It is important to track which SERP features are currently visible above the fold, as well as your presence in different SERP formats in different locations.

This information can be used to plan your budget and allocate resources more effectively. For example, you may want to increase your budget for locations where you are not visible, or decrease your budget for locations where you are experiencing ad cannibalization. You can also use this information to mobilize your budget between different SERP formats, such as shifting your paid ads budget to other search terms when your organic ads are generating clicks.

Strategic Budget Mobilization on Google example

The primary goal of a Search Marketer is securing above-the-fold visibility in the SERP. This requires collaboration between SEM and SEO teams. When Paid Ads are above the fold, aggressive paid advertising should be the focus. Conversely, if Paid Ads are not present, the SEO team should work on improving the visibility of that search term. By working together, they can maximize their visibility and drive better results.

4. Maximize SERP Real Estate to Improve Total Clicks & Conversions

The primary goal of a holistic search strategy is to maximize your visibility on Google’s search results pages (SERPs) for your most important keywords. Google does this by displaying a variety of ad formats and content in a single SERP, targeting users at different stages of the buying process.

For example, if a user searches for “running shoes,” Google might serve a Shopping Ad or Product Listing Ad to someone who is ready to buy. For a user who is still researching different brands, Google might show a SERP feature like Google Popular Products. And for a user who is still considering whether or not they need running shoes, Google might show a Knowledge Panel with information about the benefits of running shoes.

By targeting users at different stages of the buying process, Google is able to maximize the click-through rate (CTR) for its SERPs. Marketers can do the same by building a full-funnel strategy that includes paid search ads, organic search results, and other forms of content.

5. Holistic Optimization & Testing Plan:

A holistic search optimization plan allows search marketers to take a more comprehensive approach to optimization and testing. For example, the SEO team can suggest high-impression keywords to the paid search team to include in their next PPC campaigns.

Similarly, a holistic SERP watch approach allows you to monitor SERPs, your Google Share of Voice (SOV) compared to your competitors, and compare ads. This information can help you identify where you need to cut or add budgets. You can also use this information to analyze competitive ad content and build organic content strategies to maximize organic SERP space targeting different organic SERP formats.


Both SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) teams aim to increase brand visibility and drive traffic to a website. Traditionally, these teams have worked in silos, competing against each other for resources and budget. However, this approach is no longer effective in today’s digital landscape. If you are a business that wants to get to the next level, it is essential to integrate your search efforts into a holistic search strategy.

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