Holistic Search Strategy for Total Search Performance

Holistic Search Strategy for Total Search Performance
Ramesh Karki | April 28, 2022
Holistic Search Strategy for Total Search Performance

Both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) marketers’ performance is impacted by search algorithm updates & SERP Feature fluctuations in the SERP. The sudden decline in visibility, rank, and clicks is unexplained by Google performance reports. As Google Search Marketing has become extremely dynamic and competitive, organic & paid search teams working in silos are counter-effective. It creates excessively wasteful marketing activities. Therefore, you need holistic search strategies to ensure your business is available to your customers in a way they receive an excellent shopping experience as they travel through their 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.

Typically, when we say holistic search or total search, what marketers understand is using AdWords, Google Analytics, and Search Console performance data in a single unified report such that both the SEO and SEM Analyst can refer to and collaborate. Well, this is important, but to truly address the concept of a Holistic Total Search Strategy, you must consider external factors impacting your performance. Factors such as your dynamic search marketing, competitive landscape, Search Algorithm updates, and the ever-changing intent of Google to maximize its SERP (Search Engine Result Page) CTR (Click-through rate). Insights like these are not available to Marketers from Google. Therefore, emerging concepts like Search Intelligence built with granular SERP Monitoring data are getting popular to fulfill this massive gap in Search Marketing.

In this article, we will go through the concept of Holistic or Total Search for total search marketing performance to maximize visibility, clicks, and conversions, and effectively mobilize your budget across the paid and organic campaigns to boost your Return Over Ad Spend (ROAS).

What is a Holistic Search Strategy?

A holistic search strategy is a process of integrating paid and organic search strategies to remove silos between SEM and SEO teams considering a holistic SERP landscape to optimize total SERP visibility, clicks, and conversion.

With a holistic search strategy, both paid and organic search specialists can stay up to date with SERP changes and ensure a swift response to their customer’s needs. Thus, eliminating SEO and SEM teams separately vying for the same outcome.

Key Benefits of Holistic Search Strategy

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

The holistic search strategy starts with proactive keyword planning by conducting an in-depth analysis. This helps you understand keyword popularity by demography, search volume, competitiveness, CPC (cost-per-click), SERP features, and ad content analytics. You should have all the information and insights in your hand before starting your ad and content strategy for the keywords. Both SEM and SEO teams can collaborate from the start. By grouping keywords into different segments, you can prioritize their activities by focusing on the shortest path and budget efficiency to gain maximum SERP space on the keywords.

2. SERP Watch – Track SERP Changes

Google makes so many changes in its algorithm every day. As a Marketer, it is difficult to track all the changes, so the best way to keep track of the potential impact of Google’s changes is by monitoring the SERPs of keywords you are targeting.

Track SERP Components - Above and Below the fold coverage

It would be super insightful to understand the SERP features currently visible above the fold and the fluctuations you are noticing. Changes in the SERP should take into account of new search features available in the SERP, positional shifts of current SERP components, and emerging competitions over time. Another factor to track is content performance i.e., in totality keep track of all the contents and competitors in the SERP. All of which help you understand the key fluctuations that you should incorporate in your holistic search strategies.

3. Strategic Budget Mobilization for Cost Saving

The competition, as well as SERP formats, are very dynamic these days. There are also a lot of differences between your search visibility by geographic location. You need to keep track of which SERP feature is currently getting above-the-fold visibility alongside your presence in different SERP formats at various locations. Based on these analytics, you can plan your budget for getting visibility on locations where you are not visible. And decrease the budget where you have ad cannibalization issues. This helps mobilize the budget between the formats more effectively. For example, shifting your paid ads budget to other search terms when your organic ads are generating clicks.

Strategic Budget Mobilization on Google example

A Search Marketer’s main goal should be to acquire above-the-fold visibility in the SERP. So, SEM and SEO teams need to collaborate to get above-the-fold visibility. For instance, if Paid Ads are above the fold, then the marketer should focus on aggressive paid advertising, and where it’s not, the SEO team should focus on improving that search term.

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

The primary goal of the Holistic or Total Search Strategy is to maximize the SERP space on your important keywords. If you closely examine Google SERP, you will see that it provides different buying stage ad contents in a single SERP to maximize its SERP CTR (Click Through Rates).

For example, when a user searches for running shoes, Google serves Shopping Ads or Product Listing Ads targeting someone looking to buy running shoes. Similarly, a user researching the different brands available for running shoes is served a SERP feature like Popular Products. And then there are those users who might be in the stage where they are considering if running shoes are even necessary and why they need running shoes over other generic shoe types.

Maximizing the SERP real estate is crucial. Therefore, Marketers should build a full-funnel strategy in a single SERP to boost their keyword’s CTR by targeting customers at different buying stages.

5. Holistic Optimization & Testing Plan:

With a holistic Search optimization plan, Search Marketers can take a more robust approach to optimization and testing plans. A simple example is the SEO team suggesting high-impression keywords to the Paid Search Team to include in their next PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns.

Similarly, with a holistic SERP watch approach, you can monitor SERPs, Your Vs competitors’ Google Share of Voice, and compare ads. Based on your findings, you can identify where you need to cut or add budgets. It also lets you analyze competitive ad content and build organic content strategies to maximize organic SERP spaces targeting different organic SERP formats.


The goal of both SEO and SEM (organic and paid) teams is much the same; increase the brand’s visibility across search engines and convert more traffic to the website. Traditionally, paid and organic search teams have been competing against one another as separate entities in an organization. This hinders the growth and success of the business. 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.

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