The debate of how paid search effects organic traffic and vice versa has raged within the search industry for years. Should you bid on brand? Should you bid on brand + generic? Should you maximise the halo effect for terms you rank well on for SEO by being in the top positions for PPC as well? Should you in fact complement high SEO positions with low PPC positions to appeal to different users/ different search habits?
Whilst the later of these have not really been answered by the following study, the former two have by a cannibalisation study from Google released yesterday.
The key finding was that paid search ads give a 89% incremental lift in site visitors – above and beyond traffic you would normally expect from your organic listings.
Clearly Google wants you to keep pouring your cash in to PPC and so the research is not from a company without a vested interest in proving PPC is worthwhile when you are present in the natural SERPS however the study is robust (‘independent’, multiple countries and hundreds of campaigns).
Essentially the study proves that via pausing PPC campaigns after running ads and then using modelling the incremental impact of paid search ads on total search volume was calculated. At the agency I currently work for we are undertaking a similar study with one of our major clients and are in the process of proving that bidding on brand and brand+generic is worthwhile and generates incremental sales. i.e. agreeing with the Google study.
This shows the benefit of using PPC for incremental clicks and sales alongside other benefits such as keeping your competitors from dominating the paid ad spots, improving onsite conversion rate, brand building and controlling messages.
Paul Morris word of warning: Whilst I have been concrete in my above summary saying ‘ppc and seo make great bed fellows’ the intelligent digital marketer will in fact know there is no right answer to the first 4 questions I pose above and in fact you must test test test before drawing any concrete bidding strategy from a Google paper.