Even if your website ranks #1 organically, paid search is an important part of your marketing plan.
Last year Google released the Search Ads Pause research study that looked at the correlation between paid and organic search results. Google concluded that if you were to remove your paid ads you would see an 89% drop in clicks. Scrutinizers immediately started asking questions. What happens if your brand is the top organic result for the keyword? Surely the results would be different than if your organic result was on the second page.
Our sales team here at Keyword Search Pros has been telling advertisers for years that they can’t pull their paid ads when they get higher organic rankings. In the quest to save some cash, companies come up with this strategy and feel it’s a revelation. Finally there is a study to go along with the argument.
“When we released the first paper, we had a lot of questions coming back, asking for more details-under what situations can you expect different numbers.” said David Chan, Google’s lead researcher for this study.
Chan went back out and furthered his research and released a new study on the interaction of organic results and paid search ads. After looking at the new study results, the 89% number makes a little more sense since paid search ads appear without an accompanying organic search result on the page 81% of the time, on average. A paid ad is accompanied by a top ranking organic result only 9% of the time, accompanied by a 2 to 4 ranking organic result 5% of the time, and accompanied by a lower ranking, 5 or lower, around 4% of the time.
The reality is that if sponsored ads are accompanied by organic ads 9% of the time, then out 100 keywords being bid on in Adwords, only 9 of them would have an organic result on the first page. So you can achieve higher (than organic position #1) exposure on (81%) more keywords than you could rank for organically. Now that’s easy exposure.
The study goes on to explain that even when advertisers have an organic ranking in the # 1 spot, 50% of clicks they get on ads are not replaced by clicks on organic search results when the ads don’t appear. “It is a very surprising result, and, I think in someways, it runs counter to what people would think but the data speaks for itself,” said Chan.
The Big Picture: Those who ponder an “either/or” philosophy when it comes to PPC vs. SEO will have to learn the hard way. All stats aside, if an advertiser does paid search, he will develop a certain level of return. Improving organic exposure will only serve to increase the return level from that previous benchmark. He then will be accustom to this new level of return. If he stops running the paid search campaigns, he will immediately see the drop in sales and scatter to get the return levels back to where they were.
Here at Keyword Search Pros, we advise clients to evaluate what’s working and not working. If paid search represents a positive return, then do it. If organic results drive visitors and returns, then do that too. We have to let go of the “either/or” and replace it with “and/both” when they both drive results. Advertisers who focus on cutting cost from things that work are really focused on cutting sales.
Check out Google’s Impact of Organic Rank on Ad Click Incrementality for some great visuals to help better understand the study.