Hopefully that headline got your attention! Yes, you did read it correctly – Google’s research shows that 81% of the time the paid search advertiser does not have a corresponding organic ranking. So the opportunity of 1 + 1 = 3 actually rarely happens. I believe this is primarily due to many companies not being aware of what is happening between their paid and organic activities but that is another post.
I had commented on their original research that incorrectly stated that if you have paid and organic there is an 8% increase in traffic. In March Google put out their “revised” research on the impact of organic rank on paid clicks. I wrote a pretty scathing review of the research which I would like to think helped encourage them to go back to the drawing board. The part I objected to what that they did not account for those words where the advertiser was not ranking. Of course if you don’t rank for a term you will see an increase in paid search clicks
In the updated research titled “Impact of Organic Ranking on Ad Click Incrementality” they looked specifically at what happens when they have organic rankings and take away the paid. This helps show the collaboration or cannibalization of the two. They even did a neat info graphic that I will dissect to help explain what they found and the implications to search marketers.
81% of the Advertisers DON’T HAVE an Organic Listing
Yes, that is what they found. Of the words in the test, the advertisers that had a paid search ad running “did NOT HAVE an associated organic result 81% of the time.” At first I was shocked by this but then we see this on nearly every data load we do into our Keyword Management Suite. We often find the typical company only actively manages a fraction of the words in their paid campaigns in their SEO campaign.
Clearly, if you don’t have an organic listing then you won’t get additional consideration and the ONLY opportunity for interaction is “renting the traffic” via the paid listing. They continued with the analysis and found that only 9% of the time the advertiser also had the #1 search results position, 5% of the time the advertiser was ranking in the 2 to 4th position and 4% of the time they were in a position #5 or greater. So clearly, there can be a case made for rank checking to make sure that you do have organic results especially for high value terms.
I have talked about this recently in How do your Expensive PPC Kewyords Perform in SEO? after finding so many companies do not even know how many of their highest Cost Per Click keywords are performing in SEO. We are updating our application to look for this anomaly specifically. In preliminary tests we are finding that in some cases it is much worse. We have found a few cases where it is as much as 98% of the time there is no corresponding organic listing in the top 5.
66% of the clicks happen when there is NO Organic Search Listing
So if we don’t even have an organic listing 81% of the time when there is a paid listing how does this impact the click rate. Google found that 66 percent of the clicks occur when there is no organic listing for the advertiser. Duh, that is the only thing they can click.
So what we all want to know is what happens in the 9 percent of the time when we do have both paid and organic listings.
- 99% of ad clicks with no organic results are incremental. – Duh! You can’t get a click from Organic if you don’t have organic so any clicks from paid are incremental.
- 50% of ad clicks with #1 organic result are incremental – this is what Google wanted to hear to counter advertisers that if they have a #1 listing then they don’t need to use paid search.
- 82% of ad clicks for advertisers ranking in organic positions 2 to 4 are incremental
- 96% of the ad clicks for advertisers ranking in organic position 5 or greater are incremental
Google does call it out specifically but do concede that while statistically there are 50% incremental clicks – the rate of incremental clicks varies by advertiser and I will also add that it is the context (query type or buy cycle) and type (branded or non branded) of keyword plays an important part in which is clicked.
My goal is make advertisers aware of the 50% incremental lift in clicks but more importantly ensure advertisers work with the SEO team to ensure that they do have a corresponding organic ranking. Our research shows that few advertisers even know where they rank in relation to their paid terms. What we want to clearly understand is how and when can an organic listing be a substitute for the paid ad? That is the work we are doing now to test different situations like branded and non branded as well as phases of the buy cycle.
You can read my previous article on that attempts to answer the question “Should you buy your Brand Terms when you Rank #1?” where we look at a very specific case where a company was over paying by $24,000 a month for their brand name.
The Cost of Not Ranking
We already had a “Cost of Not Ranking Model” in our tool based on the Excel file that I write about in this post from 2010 on “The Cost of Not Ranking Organically” on my personal blog. Based on this research I will update the logic in our tool to show the incremental cost. Again, it should never be a PPC vs. Organic but a Paid + Organic and once we have the alignment then we can work on the messages to make sure they are collaborative.
What is your situation?
How many keywords do you have in your paid campaign that do or don’t have an organic performance. As Google noted, without organic listings your paying for 100% of the clicks for people interested in your products and services. If you don’t know what your situation is you are a perfect candidate for our Keyword Management Suite or new Search Performance Analysis Solution.