It comes as no surprise that Google is the most visited website, receiving up to 89.3 billion monthly visitors and holding 93% of the search engine market share in 2023 (GS Statcounter). With Google processing over 8.5 billion searches per day, winning on Google – whether it’s organic search listings, paid search listings, shopping ads listings or local search results – is vital for brands to be visible and win traffic share. But in an age where user experience is key and brands are looking to increase optimisation to reduce spend wastage, quality of traffic matters. Total clicks are no longer the only KPI to be measured; instead, a holistic view of other metrics such as bounce rate, page views per session, and average session duration becomes increasingly important.


Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas, Lisa Gevelber, describes how more and more people are using search to optimise their real-world experiences as it helps them to feel more confident and less anxious. For users, the research process becomes part of the experience itself and the research is meant to create the best experience possible. To deliver the best user experience, there are four conditions that needs to be met:

  1. Quality content
  2. Overall site experience
  3. Serving relevant ads and organic listing matched to the right query
  4. Rich search insights and data to inform search strategy

In short, Total Search – where SEO meets paid search – is crucial for brands looking to deliver the best user experience while optimising their paid search activity to reduce spend wastage.


But what is Total Search? Merkle describes it as a process of ensuring paid and organic search activities work more successfully together to achieve meaningful customer and business outcomes. It is a virtuous cycle of data unification, insight discovery, and search delivery which helps brands craft better experiences for their customer through search. Through Total Search, brands can maximise the value of both paid search and SEO teams by:

  1. Reducing wastage. SEO teams are generally held accountable for delivering optimised content through keyword targeting. Through data sharing, brands can benefit from the expanding its keyword coverage between PPC and SEO to ensure ads are relevantly targeted to user search queries and intent.
  2. Reducing cost. Often, brands see their ad cost driven up by inefficiencies such as high bounce rate and low average session duration. This can be caused by site content not being optimised in a way that users expect or poor site experience, for example, slow loading times. Working with SEO to ensure high paid traffic driving pages and overall site experience are optimised can help to improve quality score, thereby reducing cost.
  3. Driving efficiencies and growth. Through a collaborative approach, brands can identify coverage gaps across both channels to provide an opportunity to test new search strategies (e.g. reduce bidding on branded terms if the site is ranking very strongly in organic search for branded and focus more on generics), prioritise site optimisation to drive paid search returns, and inform new content creation to grow and expand.
  4. Delivering a holistic view. By aligning on a shared set of KPIs, it also reduces cannibalisation where quick, single channel wins are pursed over more substantive business objectives. Joint reporting provides brands with holistic oversight of their marketing performance and can better support in devising a joint strategy for maximum performance.


In summary, for any brands looking to maximise their paid search strategy and looking to innovate, Total Search could be a key win especially given the importance of “searching” as part of users’ day-to-day activity.