Paid Search results beat Organic

“Stop your Pay Per Click advertising when you get to page one of Google”. Right or wrong? Well we have been repeating this received mantra since we have been in the business. It seems to make sense – why pay to get on to page one of a search engine when you’ve got there for free?

Got there at last!
Well a recent analysis of a client’s organic search optimisation and Pay Per Click advertising gave us a surprising result. Tracking a key search term in the organic results, we were all delighted to see that the client was now in the number two position on Google – the results of eighteen months of effort. Eighteen months ago they were #100, one year ago #20, and this week from #3 to #2 (number 1 was held by the manufacturer of the product they sold, who had a Google PageRank of 7, so probably as good as it was going to get).

So let’s save some money
So was it time to stop advertising against that search term? We checked how many click-throughs the ad had generated so far this month – it was 444 (the ad’s average position was 2.3). Then we checked the click-throughs from the same search term in the organic results (we selected all the terms that would also have served the ad as it was on “broad match”). To our surprise the organic click-throughs were lower: 128 to be precise. So the #2 ad was generating more click-throughs than the #2 organic result on the same first page of Google; at a ratio of 3.5:1.

Two good results are better than one
So the learning for us was that even a top-scoring Google result shouldn’t mean that you would immediately cancel your PPC ad. What this experience suggests is that perceived wisdom – that you cancel your ad when your organic result is good enough - is wrong, and that like News, all good search engine results are good for your business. It’s also worth bearing in mind that although you should have a lot of control over the contents of an organic result (through the page description meta field) – you don’t have complete control like you do in a PPC ad.

In fact you could argue that two entries - one sponsored, one "above the fold" - on Google is the perfect position to be in; at the end of the day "real estate" has always counted in advertising.

Organic result or PPC – which has the best conversion rate?
Google Analytics is currently being coded into this site, so we will be able to answer the next question soon: which result – organic or paid for – gets the best conversion rate for the same key phrase? Watch this space!

Post Script
And the winner is. . . paid for. Even though the client in question is now #1 organic result on Google, the paid for terms is outscoring the organic term by the following (for one month)

Search term: Organic results - 362 visits, 1.1% conversion ration (sales to visits), value per visit: £1

Search term: Paid for results - 1,718 visits, 1.75% conversion ration (sales to visits), value per visit: £1.66 

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