The industry continuously talks about how Paid and Organic Search work better when in market together. It’s no secret, when you have 2 listings you own more real estate or “shelf space”, but what is the degree of this impact and is it significant enough to require investment in one, when you have a reasonable presence in the other?
Google published its own recent research and presented interesting results across a variety of large brands and industries, including the finding that when both are present on a results page: conversions increase and revenue per visitor is higher.
Additionally, Paid Search is the guaranteed way for a brand to emerge (with a reasonably competitive rank) for generic searches when Organic Search typically cannot, due to lack of meaningful content. Google’s research (found in Google AgencyLand) shows the importance of non-brand throughout the search process as a large part (~50%) of the research phase happens on non-brand terms throughout the search cycle.
Google’s claim that “more searches + more ads = more traffic”, sums it up.
Mantra for the marketer: Own as much real estate to capture consumer interest across the funnel. This is precisely what Razorfish saw in our own research.
Razorfish Paid and Organic Synergies Research
Razorfish wanted to prove the relationship of paid and organic search visits and their impact on client revenue as well as to explore additional attributes that contributed to this revenue. To do this we built statistical models on a year’s worth of client data of a large retailer.
The goal: to identify key factors that impacted Organic/Paid Search revenue and quantify the synergistic or cannibalistic (if any) impacts of Paid and Organic Search channels. The results were clear: the chemistry between the two channels worked great together! Here’s how:
Before a consumer clicks a Paid Search ad, the probability that the consumer already visited the site’s homepage through Organic Search is very high. Our research showed at least half (53%) of conversions and revenue happening through Paid Search are preceded by Organic Search visits within the previous 7-days.
It gets even more interesting! For Branded Keywords, Organic Search visits impacted the Paid Search visits by 81% indicating the cyclical switching between Paid and Organic listings. The Razorfish models show strong synergy between paid/organic links, especially for Branded keywords. Our hypothesis ( that was supported by the data), indicated that visitors use Organic Search links to navigate easily to a site’s homepage for research, before converting through Paid Search ads.
In spite of this ‘friends with benefits’ relationship between paid and organic: why does the paid link get the edge? As consumers research across both non-brand and brand keywords, Promotional messaging on Paid Search ads trigger conversions by reducing research time-span. The paid link triggers the conversion and is just the better deal since it offers you more ‘benefits’.
Playing defense against your competition is important.
What else did we learn? Organic Search links and Premium Paid Search ranking (top ranked ads above Organic listings – not right rail) drives greater coverage on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and prevents diversion of traffic to competitor sites. So when someone asks “is it important to buy keywords if you already show up in Organic Search, even Position 1?” The answer for the most part is YES! Otherwise you set yourself up to lose that traffic and potential revenue to your competitors. Our research quantified this impact: for every unit increase in Competitor coverage (a unit was defined as premium listing, vs. top 3 right rail, etc.) revenue declines by ~12%. But more interestingly for every increase in Paid Search ranking (that resulted in a click), revenue increased 10%. This tells us your revenue declines at a faster rate when your ranking slips.
This data tells us to protect our ranking, but it should be our standard practice to prevent competitors, negative ads or misleading messages from exploiting the SERP space for our brands. It’s a crowded marketplace so advertisers must blend Art and Science when managing a Paid Search campaign to ensure our campaigns are successful in hitting our client’s goals (profit/sales/leads) with a mix of Awareness and strategic placements that keep the purchase funnel full and push competitors down.
In Summary: Organic Search plays an important navigational role in the consumer behavioral patterns while Paid Search is known to close the deal to a conversion as promotional messaging trigger the close. Again, just mere investment in Paid Search is not enough, but aggressive ranking in both channels is key to positive impact on client revenue.
Why Paid and Organic Work Well Together
- Consumers convert after multiple types of searches and clicks, in their ‘research’ phase
- Organic Search ranks well for Brand terms(read: mostly navigational), but Paid Search can fill the gap on Non-Brand coverage (read: awareness, deal-breaker offers)
- Paid Search messaging can be managed, tested and optimized. And promotional language helps to close the consumer to the desired action.
- You can ensure an optimal experience by driving consumers deep into a designated landing page that relates to the intent of the search query through Paid Search ads.
- The more coverage you have, the less room available for competitors to steal traffic and revenue
- 1+1 = >2 (Friends with benefits can end up having a family!)