One of the most common questions in paid search, is should you bid on keywords that you already rank well for organically, or is it just a waste of money?
In this article I’m going to be examining the two leading case studies by Kenshoo and Brad Geddes to provide a data backed answer to this question. I’m also going to be identifying other reasons why it may be worth bidding on organic terms such as the ability to choose your own landing pages, to increase your conversion rate and being able to use your PPC data to optimize your organic search ads.
1) Paid search allows you to increase your overall profit (in the vast majority of cases)
Case study 1 – Kenshoo and HP –
A recent joint Study by Kenshoo and Resolution media into Hewlet Packard, that looked at 1 year worth of data and $10 million in direct revenue found the following results. The test only featured data where there was a paid listing and organic listing for the same keyword.
When there was a number 1 organic ranking users still clicked on the paid listing 39.4% of the time and Paid search revenue accounted for 41.6% of revenue where there was a number 1 organic listing too.
The study also found that paid search drove 3.2% more revenue per visit than organic search traffic.
Case study 2 – Certified Knowledge
Brad Geddes ran a test with one of his clients, over various different timeframes and for a range of different keywords and got the following results.
Here you can see that by bidding on one of the organic terms already ranked number 1, it was possible to generate $7395 in profit.
In this case Brad used the simple, yet effective, methodology of adding the exact match variation of the keyword that ranked number 1 in Google as a negative keyword and then comparing it to the data when it was running, to when it was excluded.
The only keyword that he found were anomalous and it was not profitable to bid on were keywords that were very early on in the buying cycle.
If you want to run your own tests to determine if bidding on keywords that you already rank for organically is profitable, or if it is just catabolizing your organic search traffic, then you can follow this simple method that was devised by Brad Geddes here (http://searchengineland.com/should-you-bid-on-a-keyword-if-you-rank-organically-for-that-term-84247).
PPC allows you to create designated landing pages to increase conversion rate
The conversion rate of traffic from PPC and SEO are very similar. When Brad Geddes ran a study into this he found that PPC traffic converted at 15.3% and SEO traffic converted at 15.1% – Brad Geddes study (http://searchengineland.com/should-you-bid-on-a-keyword-if-you-rank-organically-for-that-term-84247)
However with SEO Google allocates you a landing page, which may not be the highest converting one for that keyword, such as the homepage of your website. With PPC however you can choose the highest converting landing page to send your traffic to.
When he used a specific PPC landing page, that was highly relevant to the keyword he however found that the conversion rate increased from 15.1 to 26.9%.
Sitelinks can also be used to channel users to the most relevant landing page with PPC adverts, so they don’t have to search around for what they are looking for, resulting in an increase in conversion rate.
However studies have shown (Link – http://clicteq.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-adwords-sitelink-extensions/) that only a very small proportion of users actually click on the sitlinks themselves, and we have found individual sitelinks to have CTR of around 0.3 – 0.4%.
Paid search allows you to test the advert text (which can be used to increase the CTR of your organic ads)
One of the most effective ways to improve the ROI of your SEO campaigns is to increase the CTR of your adverts, so that you generate more traffic from your organic listings in Google.
It is very difficult however to split test different ad copies for organic adverts as the reporting is very limited within Webmaster Tools. On the other hand the reporting within AdWords is very detailed and allows you to accurately determine CTR and conversion rates of adverts, and is ideal for running split tests to determine which adverts would perform the best.
I would strongly suggest bidding on the exact match version of the keywords that you rank for, and split testing different ad copies within the Adwords interface using a tool like Adalysis.
Once you have determined the best performing ad copy, then implement this into your SEO campaigns. By changing the Meta description of your pages to the best preforming ad copy and headline from your PPC campaigns you will start to generate more traffic from your SEO campaigns and increase your revenue.
Reduce space of your competitors
If you also bid on the keywords that you rank for organically, you will occupy two ad spots (one paid and one organic) on the first page of Google, reducing the amount of advertising space that your competitors can purchase and limiting their exposure.
It is clear from the studies from both Kenshoo and Brad, that users still click on organic listings, even when a paid search advert is appearing above it. In the vast majority of cases, running paid search ads for the same keywords as your organic listings produces more profit overall.
Not only this, but there are additional benefits of running paid search, such as the ability to use your paid search data to find new organic keyword opportunities and optimise the ad copy o your organic listings. Furthermore paid search ads allow you to occupy more real estate on the first page of Google and direct users to the most relevant landing pages to increase your conversion rate.