Searchers don’t open Google and say, “this time I would like to search the Paid version of Google.”

However, too often marketers think of Google in terms of separate channels.

The most extreme example of this is Paid Search and Organic Search, which are often managed by separate agencies that don’t even speak with one another (they are engaged in a turf war over attribution).

While there are many “Search Ecosystems”, such as:

  1. Google Ads
  2. Traditional Organic Listings
  3. Google My Business (Local) Listings
  4. Google News
  5. etc.

The elite Search Marketer approaches these ecosystems with an Integrated Search Strategy to sculpt the ideal SERP (Search Engine Result Page) for the searches that drive the business forward.

Google: The Most Successful App In History

Google is arguably the first and most successful “app” in history. Most people think of the internet as a list of blue links; however, that is simply “Google’s version of the internet” shown on the “Google App”. 

As marketers, we can rent or own screen space inside the most popular app in history. This is best accomplished by studying the Googlebot to reverse engineer the ranking factors.

Occupying Real Estate On Google 

As Google has evolved over the years it has become better and better at understanding the intent of every search (even using Artificial Intelligence for those it has yet to see).

This is what Google learned over time…

Not all search intents are best answered with a list of 10 blue links.

For example, when the searcher is looking for local businesses the SERP will start to show Google My Business (local listings) with nearby businesses, directions, reviews, etc.

Each type of search has a different SERP: Local, news, informational, commercial, brand… 

You can think of each of these different SERP treatments as their own “Search Ecosystems” – They have their own Index, Ranking Factors, Guidelines, and even business teams at Google.

This Search ecosystem truly solidified Google’s App Status…

Don’t believe me… Google “The Square Root of Pi” and notice how Google gives you the answer right inside the “app”. 

An integrated approach to Search Engine Marketing is all about mastering the search ecosystems for each type of search intent.

Renting vs. Owning a Search Result

There is no more attractive ROI in marketing than holding a prominent organic search position on a highly qualified term (If you found something to the contrary, email me immediately. You haven’t found something special, you’re doing organic wrong).

The level of effort to Defend and Hold a position you earned and now OWN organically is real, but nowhere near the time, energy, and effort to Take position 1 in the first place. That front-loaded investment is almost always worth it… except when it’s not.

You want to OWN the SERP when volume and quality of clicks create an evergreen source of new revenue. In those cases, figure out a path to “finance the cost” (check out our Double Dip Strategy). 

Notice how I said clicks… NOT searches. 

This might be a shock to some, but there are now many SERPs with significant search volume where Position 1 simply doesn’t get any clicks. Frequently, the best example of these SERPS can be found in Local Search. Often position 1 really becomes position 8 (after the local pack and ads). And on mobile, it may be all but invisible (unless you scroll down 3-5 screens deep).

In cases where other search ecosystems dominate the SERP, an Integrated Search specialist would:

  1. shift resources and effort into hyper optimizing ecosystems with prominent listings (many of them are “winner takes all”)
  2. Identify the paid terms that have attractive ROI
  3. Let your competition waste time and effort trying to win/defend Low-Click Organic search positions

Surround The Searcher by Stacking The SERP

Organic search is all about relative performance

With every listing or ecosystem you optimize, not only do you add to your presence you remove a competitor’s placement (removing temptation can be key to growing loyalty and long term value in a niche).

This is especially true on clicks with VERY HIGH ECONOMIC VALUE… in those cases, you want to implement a surround and stack integrated search strategy to own a position in every search ecosystem while also renting a top spot via ads.


Google is more than a list of 10 blue links. It has morphed into a dynamic collection of search ecosystems, each with its own unique indexes, guidelines, and ranking factors. Marketers who adopt an integrated search approach across Paid and the dozen or so (And growing) organic search ecosystems achieve higher ROIs because they can focus resources where they count and let their competition waste them where they don’t.