SEO and context: what to choose and whether to choose?

All the latest updates of search engine algorithms (especially Yandex) lead representatives of the SEO industry to the same disappointing conclusion: search engines deliberately and systematically commercialize the first page of results, impose context and push organic lower and lower.

A reasonable question arises: “Or maybe this is right? Why not transfer the budgets to the CPC? ”. In this article, I would like to share my thoughts on why not necessarily make a choice in favor of a single channel.

Direction of work


Business representatives are not always aware of the difference between contextual advertising and search engine optimization. This is explainable: both that and the other is shown in the search, it is associated with keywords and positions on the results page. Concepts are mixed, it turns out the wrong picture.

The most important and fundamental difference between SEO and contextual advertising is as follows:

  • SEO is aimed at improving the "autonomous" visibility of the resource, so work is being done with the site itself.
  • Contextual advertising is aimed at the effectiveness of the ad, so the work is carried out with an advertising campaign.

This is very important to understand in order to properly build expectations from both channels. A different methodology leads to different results.

SEO-specialist is interested in the fact that the site has a human and attractive snippet. But he becomes so only in the process of working on the site.

For the specialist in contextual advertising, the primary indicators are coverage, CTR, cost per click. Working with the site is not his responsibility at all.

Thus, although they “catch” the user on the same page, and the results of their work look about the same, methodologically these services almost do not overlap.



Each of these channels is good for certain tasks, but not suitable for others.

  • SEO is rarely used on landing pages, and sites made on free designers. And not only because these sites themselves are difficult to promote. These pages are very narrowly sharpened for specific topics. Therefore, it is much easier and more profitable to use contextual and targeted advertising.
  • The context does not always make sense to keep track of all requests: for example, transactional auctions are usually very expensive. Sometimes the rates are so high that the economic sense is lost (especially if you do not have the advantage of a lower price).
  • You need to work not only with your potential audience, but also with customers of competitors. Including, to intercept in the search for their branded vital requests. SEO is powerless here. And the same Yandex.Direct (for now) allows you to do this. In Google Ads, a little more complicated, but also possible.
  • Context is unprofitable when it comes to non-commercial requests. But the side traffic for such requests can be obtained free of charge from SEO.
  • SEO does not allow targeting impressions by criteria and audience. In contextual advertising there is the possibility of retargeting and dynamic remarketing.
  • In context, there is no traffic received above the contract. In SEO it is.

Therefore, you should use these directions simultaneously:

SEO as a constant practice of improving the site itself and its visibility in the search.
Context as a fast and effective tool for testing, solving local problems and working with narrow audience segments.

How are they helpful to each other?


In addition to the closure of each other’s asymmetric constraints, there is a flip side to this kind of “cooperation”. Mutual positive impact of the work of the two channels:

  • The traffic attracted from contextual advertising allows to improve the indicator of the site’s behavioral factors in the initial period, when it does not yet collect a sufficient number of users from organic delivery.
  • Working with a site within the framework of SEO improves the quality of its pages, making them more relevant to specific queries. This may affect the indicator of the same name in contextual advertising systems and give additional advantages with the participation of ads in the auction.
  • Optimizing pages for specific queries improves the performance of dynamic ads.
  • You get another place on the results page. And although it may seem like a budget waste (“Why do we need paid clicks, when can I get them for free from first place in organics?”), The statistics are implacable: context + organics on the first page give more total clicks. If you have well converted search traffic, then the scheme “paid + free clicks” will be more profitable than just “free”.
  • The context allows you to quickly assess the real conversion rate of requests, so you can find out which of them are worth the main bets even before the start of SEO promotion. This reduces the likelihood of scheduling errors and incorrect expectations.
  • If SEO is conducted simultaneously with the context, then after a while you will be able to more flexibly regulate the budget for the latter: remove the expensive requests for it, for which the site has gone to the top in organics, and spend the released budget for experiments. Since the most expensive SEO work is usually carried out in the first months, and then the cost of promotion can fall to a minimum, within the general budget we can talk about quite serious amounts. If only the context is kept, you do not have such a possibility of “castling”.
  • When one of the channels is disconnected (no matter what), the second continues to work. This will become especially important at later periods when you begin to receive a steady stream of leads from the search: in this case, a simple loss can turn into real losses. There is a general rule about eggs and a basket.

But do not count us ...


When we talk about the advantages and disadvantages of this or that channel, it is always a conversation about the “spherical horse”.

When it comes to a specific project, we often run into reinforced concrete: “There is no money, there is no place to take out, sales are needed tomorrow.” This is understandable and understandable. Internet marketing is generally not cheap.

The difficulty here is that contextual advertising does not necessarily begin to pay off from the first day. On a positive decision about buying a person pushes a whole set of factors. If you have money for 10 clicks from “super selling inquiries” in Moscow, then most likely you will not beat off the spent budget. Conversion - a very naughty thing.

Sometimes it is more profitable to invest money in the development of the site and to consider it as a long-term investment. Sometimes, on the contrary, there is a need to quickly sell hot cakes, and then profit to invest in SEO. In each case, you need to remove the rose-colored glasses, move the calculator towards you and calculate very carefully.

All my professional experience shows that the most profitable investment, as a result, is an investment in integrated Internet marketing. Because with the synergy of different methods and channels, the final effect does not equal the sum of the effects of each of them: it is much larger.

If you do not have the opportunity to plunge into “omnichannel marketing” now, this does not mean that you should not strive for it.

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