Every year brings a ton of change in digital marketing. In each of my 10 years in the industry, I’ve noticed that the beginning of the year can mark a surge in calls for SEO and PPC to work together. 

The difference in 2024? There’s an elephant in the room: AI.

Google’s organic and paid sides are both rushing to adopt AI. From Search Generative Experience (SGE) to Gemini (formerly Bard), the SERP results for both paid and organic are evolving almost daily.

This is sparking unrest for paid and organic marketers alike – and putting an even bigger emphasis on paid and organic teamwork, as I discussed in my recent presentation at the MarTech Spring Conference (registration required)

I’ve already covered the important reports SEO and PPC teams need to run (and share) to help each other succeed so I won’t go in-depth on those here. However, there are other key initiatives paid and organic teams need to incorporate into their joint 2024 strategies to help everyone navigate the early days of AI. They are:

Let’s take a look at each – and why it matters that we get them right.

1. Collaboration

Collaboration – which includes its close cousin, communication – has high stakes in 2024. 

Along with the usual benefits of collaboration – shared learnings, strategic alignment, gap coverage and discovering anomalies or new patterns – SEO and PPC teams can mitigate the risks of getting siloed and tackling rapid change with different agendas.

One of the trends we’ve seen develop over the last year or so (and it’s a trend Google is pushing) is a focus on first-party perspectives.

With AI certain to crowd into the SERPs (both organic and paid) as time goes on, using E-E-A-T principles on the organic side and beefing up product reviews, testimonials and case studies to support landing pages will be important.

Trading insights between teams on what’s resonating can help keep messaging and branding fresh and cohesive.

Another component of collaboration as the SERP evolves is communication on algorithm changes.

  • PPC can help cover for any organic dips when new algorithms roll out.
  • SEO teams can continue to bolster PPC efforts when new competitors enter the auction – and/or when engagement costs climb past the point of viable ROI.

2. Funnel intent alignment

Now more than ever, thinking about a full-funnel strategy is crucial.

Your customers aren’t thinking about individual channels or tactics, but they will respond if they’re presented with the right messaging at the right time. Ensuring alignment at each stage of the funnel is crucial to building your marketing program in 2024.

Here’s a chart we use at my agency to make sure we’re mapping out – and covering – the full purchase journey: 

Mapping out the full purchase journey

Without a unified approach agreed upon by all relevant teams, you won’t have visibility into your funnel coverage.

Whatever your preferred format, you must create a touchstone that your teams can share and monitor to reduce funnel gaps or redundancies.

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3. Education and awareness of the changing SERPs

Let’s go into specifics. There are a lot of considerations in 2024:

On the paid side, we’re all intently watching the roll-out of ads in SGE because we can bet Google will figure out a way to monetize them. Since little is known about what this will look like, it’s important to:

  • Stay in close touch with your SEO counterparts.
  • Keep an eye on industry updates.
  • Monitor click-through rates 

Seeing how the ad algorithm and SGE algorithm collide and what campaign types will include it (are we all assuming it will be Performance Max?) and assessing impacts on ad inventory make SEO efforts and collaboration more critical.

As far as organic SGE, we could see an even bigger shift. No SEO can confidently say that they can optimize content for SGE because it’s even more of a black box than the traditional search algorithm. 

As SGE rolls out, some brands will win and others will lose on the organic front. PPC teams need to be prepared to either pick up the slack or (in a best-case scenario) shift the budget to other initiatives where organic gains permit.

Continuing to optimize for the user and focusing on top-of-funnel content is a great place to start as we monitor SGE impacts.

4. Shared learnings off-Google

In 2024, paid and organic collaboration must expand to platforms beyond the search engines as search behavior becomes more fragmented.

Forums like Quora and Reddit are picking up steam (even in the SERPs) on the B2B side and organic social results from LinkedIn, X and beyond continue to be pulled into query results as well (and that’s not even mentioning TikTok, which a huge chunk of younger users now use as their primary search platform).

This opens collaboration opportunities beyond the search engines. Say your founder has a viral organic post on LinkedIn or your brand happens to be dominating a juicy topic on Quora.

Both present the paid team with testing options – maybe a thought leader ad on LinkedIn or a contextual campaign in Quora.

On the flip side, paid campaigns doing well targeting certain interests or placements on social platforms can inform SEO teams that they should lean in on “hidden gems” covering the same topics.

Future-proof your search marketing efforts

When change is fast and furious, it can be easy to put your head down and focus on what’s right in front of you (e.g., what you can control). But now’s the time to be a great teammate as well. 

Whatever changes are ahead in 2024, your team will be stronger if the paid and organic sides of the house are on the same page about how to handle them.