As a media manager, I’m often challenged by clients on how to do more with less, especially when it comes to growing their brand and performance online while spending less money.
While we’re always looking for efficiencies within paid search, to drive true efficiency, organic and paid channels need to be integrated.
So, how can two channels that should work together but often don’t – paid search and organic search – drive efficiencies and performance improvements?
While there are differing factors to determine rank for pay per click (PPC) ads and search engine optimisation (SEO) listings, both share the same space. When both channels are at the top of the page, it makes sense to consider whether your investment in paid search is driving incremental revenue, or whether it’s simply cannibalising your organic revenue.
So different, yet so alike
Trade-off involves testing PPC ads in different positions and measuring the holistic sales and revenue driven through paid and organic search.
Linking your Google AdWords account to your Google Search Console will allow you to effectively run a Search Query Report (SQR) across paid and organic, to see the impressions, average position, and clicks for both channels – all segmented by search query.
This then allows you to analyse the effect of a specific search terms’ average paid position on organic click-through rate (this will only work if the term’s organic position doesn’t fluctuate). Once enough data has been gathered, you can start to paint a picture of how much that particular keyword is cannibalising organic traffic.
Pushing bids on a keyword can allow you to estimate how much of the traffic increase is incremental and how much of it would have been picked up by organic.
For example, a client wanted to know how much additional spend would be required to push a specific head search term to position one, and how much additional traffic this would drive.
When this was estimated solely using historic paid search data, it looked as though the gain in traffic could be worth the extra spend.
However, when taking into account the loss in organic click-through rate that was observed when this position was tested, the actual cost per incremental click was roughly 50% higher.
There are, however, certain limiting factors to take into account:
- The organic data from the paid search query may not be 100% reliable
- As we can’t look at data on an individual impression level, weighted correlation needs to be used (in the same way that you need to weight average position by impression before you find the average across multiple keywords).
Organic average position
While in almost all cases other metrics will take precedence over this, it can be useful to take organic average position into account before pushing bids on a keyword that’s competing with high position organic results. This can be done in a few ways:
- Opening the report on a keyword-by-keyword basis
- Using AdWords Scripts to label keywords with the average organic position pulled using the paid organic query application programming interface (API) call
- If you have a paid SEMrush subscription, you can use a script to label keywords pulled from its API
Driving better performance
A final way in aligning paid and organic search to drive better performance is to use PPC ad copy testing to inform wording for metadata and page titles.
The theory is that keywords, which drive users to click through from ads in the search engine results page (SERP) results to the website, will help increase click through rates across the site.
You should also look to use winning messaging from PPC ads to inform metadata and page title wording. While you might have differing goals for paid and organic search, when both appear in the same space, it’s worth measuring both channels together to ensure spend isn’t wasted.