In the past year, all the major search engines have all developed their services to offer listings based not only on web pages with text, but also on rich media such as blogs, videos, images and maps.

Search isn’t just for web pages any more. This technique, known as universal or blended search, is a clear sign of how natural search is becoming more sophisticated, offering improved levels of indexing.

Such developments in search are also raising the potential of online PR, as brands are building links to podcasts and videos into their sites, all of which have viral potential and can attract attention from bloggers and other forms of user-generated content. This technique can help to lift rankings while also ensuring that a stream of interactive and fresh content is posted on a regular basis. With the internet, and in particular search, becoming such a popular way for people to find information, online PR is becoming more and more important.

However, while the potential for natural search is certainly on the rise, no one is under the illusion that it will significantly dent the impact of pay-per-click (PPC) search, or ever replace it. Search needs to be viewed as one channel as a whole, and SEO can support more prominent and expensive positions in paid search. The most successful search advertisers are those that blend their SEO and PPC campaigns together.

Universal search may not be restricted to natural search for much longer. Some industry figures believe it could begin to appear within the sponsored links sections of search results pages, providing marketers with the ability to use images or video ads instead of, or to supplement, text-based ads. For example, Google is already trialing video ads within its paid-search offering.

With this in mind, it is increasingly important for clients to integrate natural and paid media in their search and general online marketing campaigns in order to see good results. Is your brand’s search marketing aligned across different channels?

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO, PR and paid advertising are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user interaction and brand demands, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels. What could our PPC management services do for your business?