Google Study Examines Organic/PPC Interplay

A new Google study examines a common question from advertisers: Are PPC ads redundant when combined with a prominent organic ranking? The study reveals that the PPC ads have, on average, very little click overlap.

The Details of the Study

Google Complex Math Paid Organic Clicks

Oftentimes, when I’m conveying the details of a study, I like to go into the methodology and tactics used to find information. Bluntly put, this setup goes over my head. It involves a lot of complex math (formulae that involve about a dozen variables being multiplied in all kinds of fancy ways), but if you’re interested in deciphering the math yourself, you can find all the details in the official study.

The brief version is that Googlers first “observed organic click volume in the absence of search ads” (according to the Google Research Blog) and then built a statistical model to figure out how different levels of ad spend and organic placement would impact the exact results. Overall, though, the picture turns out favorably for PPC ads.

Contrary to the beliefs of some advertisers, PPC has only a minor overlap with organic ranking. Organic results compensate for only 11 percent of traffic when ad campaigns for the same keyword are paused.

The Implications of the Study

With 89 percent of all PPC traffic being due very specifically to those PPC ads, even and despite prominent organic results, the simple conclusion is easy: keep advertising! This agrees with the opinions of SEOs and PPC experts who have previously conducted more anecdotal studies on how halting PPC campaigns changes the overall traffic picture.

But those big, frightening mathematical formulae (that I have no desire to touch) also change based on details such as your organic ranking and your PPC spend, which means that halting your campaigns may be worthwhile for specific keywords if your organic rank is high enough. In general, leaving your PPC on is a good idea – if only to prevent competitors from gaining that visibility. However, when in doubt, do that (very scary) math.

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