Google research – The value of paid search strategy: Keep buying ads

Ever wonder what might happen if you stopped your PPC ads?

Google recently released an update to a study they conducted last July in which they concluded that “paid search ads give you an 89% incremental lift in site visitors—incremental to the traffic you would normally get from your organic listings.” In the updated version, Google researchers determined that incremental ad clicks went down by 85% when campaigns were paused, while organic results went up—but not nearly enough to justify taking PPC advertisingout of the equation all together.

What does it all mean for digital marketing strategists?

As a search strategist, this research confirms what I always thought to be true. Google encourages advertisers to buy ads from AdWords by allowing the Google ranking algorithm to favour websites that have a presence in both paid and organic search rankings.

Is there a valid reason for this favoritism? Perhaps not, but when we look at CTR (Click Through Rates), we notice that users are more likely to click through when they see both organic and a paid results in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Ranking for both paid and organic results seems to add legitimacy to the website, ultimately increasing CTRs.

What’s the cost of cutting PPC spend?

There are far too many variables to take into consideration for each PPC marketer, making it virtually impossible to assign an actual dollar figure to the cost of not doing PPC. We can just as easily guess how much it costs to do PPC as we can guess how much it costs not to do PPC and rely solely on organic SEO.

It’s true that traffic generated by organic SEO is more affordable than PPC. But when you slow down or stop you PPC ads, there are greater consequences than a dip in site traffic. Now that your competitors are eating up all those clicks (thanks to your disappearance from the paid listings) your revenues will go down as well. The more real estate you can own on the SERP (being seen in both paid and organic listings), the more likely you are to increase CTRs, which should result in higher revenues.

PPC advice for all sites, new & old

The best advice I can give is to always conduct your own tests to learn how pausing your PPC keywords affects your ROI. As digital marketers, we have access to very powerful analytics tools that can show us precisely what drives revenue. Monitor those analytics and allocate market spend to strategies that have proven ROI.

At the end of the day PPC should be profitable. If it’s not, change your strategy and/or budget allocation until you find the perfect recipe for your website. Digital marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

I’ve been telling my clients this all along, and Google’s updated research proves my original theory: website owners need a combination of PPC and organically optimized pages to build an online brand that will ultimately turn visitors into loyal customers.

For more tips and advice on ppc strategy and more, check out Mediative’s Cheat Sheets.