Are You Getting More Out Of Paid Search Than From SEO?

    August 25, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

As you’ve probably found out, getting your content seen in Google’s organic listings is not as easy as it used to be. It’s no wonder that businesses are getting more out of paid listings than they are organic search traffic.

is this the case for your business or do you get more out of organic SEO? Let us know in the comments.

Google has launched a new Paid & Organic report in AdWords aimed at helping businesses get more out of their paid and organic search campaigns by offering new comparison options.

“Previously, most search reports showed paid and organic performance separately, without any insights on user behavior when they overlap,” says AdWords product manager Dan Friedman. “The new paid & organic report is the first to let you see and compare your performance for a query when you have either an ad, an organic listing, or both appearing on the search results page.”

Google suggests using the report to discover potential keywords to add to your AdWords accounts by looking for queries where you only appear in organic search with no associated ads, as well as for optimizing your presence on high value queries and measuring changes to bids, budgets, or keywords and their impact across paid, organic and combined traffic.

Paid & Organic Report

Image: Google

Digital marketing firm IMPAQT was part of the beta testing, and says, “The paid & organic report has been incredibly useful in understanding the interaction between paid and organic search, and the overall synergy when they are working together. For one of our client’s key branded queries, we saw an 18% increase in CTR when paid and organic work together, as opposed to only having the organic listing.”

It’s worth noting that Google itself shared this quote.

To take advantage of the Paid & Organic report, you have to link your AdWords account to Webmaster Tools, and you have to be a verified owner or be granted access by one.

MarketLive has put out a report finding that its merchants saw “significant changes” in the mix of paid/organic traffic. Paid search visits made up about a third of total search engine visits (up from 26% the previous year), while revenue from paid search grew to 44% of total search engine visit revenue (up from 40% in 2012). Interestingly, search visit growth altogether slowed in the first six months of the year, but paid was up 30% while organic was down 3%.

Paid/Organic Search Traffic

Image: Marketlive

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of conversions, order size, new visits, bounce rate and pages per visit. As you can see, paid performs better across the board, except for new visits, which makes sense if you consider brand familiarity.

Marketlive: Paid vs. Organic

Image: Marketlive

The report delves into performance across verticals, device comparisons and more, if you want to check it out (registration required).

This is only one study, of course, but the signs are pointing to businesses getting more out of paid search than out of organic search. While Google’s new report feature could help both, it certainly seems geared toward using what you learn from your organic performance to put toward your paid campaigns. And again, Google certainly isn’t making things any easier for those trying to be found in organic results.

For one thing, Google results simply have a lot more types of results than they used to, and on many pages, that means less traditional organic results. For another thing, people are afraid to link out, and to have links pointing toward them, which surely can’t be a great thing for traditional SEO, considering that Google’s algorithm (while including over 200 signals) has historically placed a great deal of its confidence in legitimate linking.

Between webmaster paranoia, Google’s somewhat mixed messaging and ongoing “advice,” and its ever-changing algorithms, many businesses are finding out the hard way that relying too heavily on organic search is just detrimental. Paid search is less risky. It’s also how Google makes the bulk of its money.

The AdWords department lost some trust points this week, however, when an account manager’s accidental voice mail recording gained some attention. Basically, he expressed his distaste that the client had upgraded to Google’s Enhanced Campaigns without consulting him, that he would now have to pitch call extensions and site links. He also noted that he didn’t care about bridge pages or parked domains.

As Ginny Marvin at Search Engine Land writes, the implications of that are that AdWords account reps are paid to upsell new products/services that may or may not be in clients’ best interests, an account rep was willing to ignore a breach of Google’s own policies, and that AdWords account managers are “sales people first and foremost.”

Google indicated that this person was not an actual Google employee, but a contractor, and that they had already removed them from the AdWords team, but as Marvin points out, it’s unclear whether this is potentially a bigger issue or if this one person’s attitude is just a rare case. Either way, it hasn’t been great for advertiser perception.

But what are you gonna do?

Obviously, when it comes to paid and organic search, the idea is to get them to work together. It’s not necessarily an “either or” situation, but there is always a question of how to balance your resources.

Do you get better performance from paid search or organic SEO? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.primamedia.com.sg shaun

    I’m currently more towards free traffic (seo) as paid traffic is really expensive is not done correctly.

    But i do believe that paid traffic can perform very well with the right knowledge.

    • Graham

      I just wish Google would just go away and die. True to form once a company dominates the market, it ends up doing what the hell it likes and the rest of us can just go hang!

      I have had emails from advertisers and from people with just plain links on my sites asking to be removed, afraid of the damage that Google threatens then with.

      There used to be a free internet where the flow of ideas reigned supreme, now if you haven’t got money forget it.

      Frankly I’m just tired of hearing the latest edicts from Google, who cares any more!

      • http://www.manilaeventsexclusive.com Events

        hope also the yahoo.com ang bing.com gets more notice.

  • Bill

    Of course more out of PPC

    Google does a report after sacking all the small businesses with Penguin update last year using are own analytic data against us.

    However, now I have 6 sites i can not even afford to do PPC on as Google has engineered a way to get the most amount out of customers.

    Does anyone remember GoTo when you could actually see the bids. Goolge hid theirs as they were already discounting for Amazon. One vendor woould pay say $1.00 for a bid yet Amazon would pay .05 cents. this is because Google and Amazon are now working together.

    Small companies are forced to pay more or just die off as Google has already done manual manipulations to its algorithm to favor its partners. Google is on Kindle fire, Kindle fire is on Amazon, 3 board members at Google are former Amazon executives.

    Then you have channeladvisor sites which Google, Amazon and CA met in Vegas prior to the Penguin launch.

    Google has all the information and has become the largest real estate broker in the world exploiting its power and information to get as much money as it can. Google has become the ruler and most greedy company on the planet in less than 10 years.

    No other company is history has been allowed the ability to send out satellites with the government of the US to map the world, cars to photograph the streets and the resources to control the pipeline to the portal.

    Yes of course PPC is the best results because after 10 years they are the only results Goolge allows the 99%.

    They control all but 5 countries in the world for search and have tested there powers everywhere as the greatest Trojan horse to have ever infiltrated worldwide economies and shift as it please.

    In the click of a mouse Google can make or break you.

    In the PPC world they simply just raise the bids virtually and drop sites organically. They control all the information it takes to force business owners to have to pay. Of course yes its PPC, thats what Google does. Collect information, then use it to make money on top of money till small businesses have no choice but to pay and barely make it.

    However, I refuse to pay Google another dime after 6 sites down and all results of there PPC Penguin attacks driving Amazon and ChannelAdvisor. In the end I lose completely because they have me on a string. Why pay a company that does not evil on top of evil.

    Anyone paying Google should STOP until they go back to pre PENGUIN

  • Bob Rodriguez

    This is all a gimmick to drive customers toward ppc. That is their whole model. I wrote about this last week before it was revealed that Yahoo surpassed Google in search.

    This kind of behavior will catch up to Google (is already is).

    Here is exactly what I wrote last week and it applies even more today:

    1. When Google announced their Q2 earnings analysts were expecting an increase in advertising revenue. I’ve been trading in the stock market for decades (retired Merrill Lynch capital markets). My forecast was that revenue from PPC would decrease (and it did). I predict a further decrease in Q3.
    Many blame the economy. If this were the case Yelp would not have beat revenue as it did (up 69%). Trip advisor, and other e-commerce sites are also experiencing similar growth.
    Google has slowly over the years (especially over the last year plus) tried to dictate everything from links to the way that customers advertise. They have also manipulated their algorithms in a way that attempts to compel people to advertise if sites want to regain their top tier positions (I can personally attest to this). The sites that now dominate the top spots are those ladened with everything under the sun (like trip advisor, yelp, etc.). Now customers are paying to be on these sites if they want to show up at all; and these sites instead of Google are reaping the monetization benefits.
    I still enjoy the top spot generically under my landing pages search term on Yahoo and Bing (because I have the most accurate information and I live in the location where the information is relevant, so I am most current). I would not be surprised if Google now puts PageRank weight on those sites who advertise with PPC.
    When I used to use PPC I would bid upwards of 3.50 per click for certain key words. The large sites that now dominate PPC are paying a fraction of this for the same key words. And since the large sites using PPC the most (trip advisor, bookit.com) they are “price fixing” the bids to be much cheaper. Also the conversion rates are no longer worth competing because the customer is now overwhelmed with choices (much of it “filler). It is a long story but I’ve already tested this theory.
    Across the board Google has gotten so big that they have finally overstepped their bounds in my opinion. Although Yahoo has had a modest increase in search and Google a smaller increase/decrease. It will not take much to tip the scales. If Google continues to flex its muscles the way that they have been; they are going to price themselves out of the market and marginalize their search. Just like the NSA, people are also starting to get tired of their collection of search data (hence the rise in sites like DuckDuckGo).
    Link rules are just ONE example of how Google is trying to dictate everything under the stars.
    I am certain that many will not agree with this post. They are so diehard that they believe Google is bulletproof. But many said the same about AOL at one time. But then again, over the decades I’ve beat the market hands down; and it isn’t because I agree with the masses.
    Good luck in the future if you keep going this way Google. Time has a way of correcting all material defects.

  • Bob Rodriguez

    Here is what Google is saying now (in my words):

    Use our PPC program and we will send you a report so you can add key words to your campaign. By doing this you will get better traffic on your generic campaign. This is just a way to get you to use PPC more but we don’t expect for you to care since we are the biggest fish in the sea.

    Here is what Yahoo is saying:

    Do what you are doing and if you have the best content we will reward you by giving you a high ranking with generic search. Also by using our paid service you will be placed even higher.

    Here is what I’m saying:

    Google: Go back to the way you served up results before you made all of these stupid changes that were meant to steer me to PPC and I will advertise with you again.

    After that you can send me little presents and nice letters like you did in the early days to reward me for using the service.

  • http://www.manilaeventsexclusive.com Events

    I hope that bing.com and yahoo.com atleast gets notice once more, because organics search from goole now becomes tedious and unreliable.

  • http://www.gbepackaging.com Bob Teal

    Are people still talking about google. They get nothing from us because our customers want the lowest price and we cant give that to customers if we give all of our profit to Google. Just who is paying Google anymore? I know companies that make 1 billion plus will ppc but so would we if we made that much. Google wants to collect from the big companies and put the rest of us out of business. Not a company we want to pay money. If you want the lowest price for packaging supplies on any search engine come to GBE Packaging and save money. Google just forgot they are only a search engine that should be serving up search results and not just who paid them. Daaaa.

    • Mick

      You get what you pay for. The reason EVERY serious business pays Google is because AdWords work. When you and your customers realize that, you’ll be much more successful.

      • glover

        you joking? if you have extra money to churn and burn – use adwords. their traffic is very low quality and converts very hardly.

  • http://newhacksforyou.blogspot.com newhacksforyou

    I really like this page becose i can find good news and tutorials. I like it!

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    Is SEO dead and paid search the first two pages of search?
    You know its coming right, you have seen the larger and larger space taken up by paid?

  • http://www.computershowto.pro Attila

    The fact that PPC is promoted, is not a bad thing in and of itself. The problem arises when PPC tweaks and modifies the SERPs in such a way, that any fool with money to churn into PPC can get a better ranking with completely IRRELEVANT content with regard to what the user searched for, then the author or blogger, with the most relevant content, but no money to pay for PPC.

    In essence, the relevancy of google SERPs has decreased at least 50..60 % in the last year alone.
    I see sites like “software dot informer dot com”, for almost ANYTHING related to downloading a program or a driver, but that site doesn’t even have anything related to the thing I’ve searched for, and other sites, that are 100% accurate, and relevant, for some reason, they don’t even get shown.

    Panda not only did not clean up the online world, it actually made things much, much worse.

  • Dennis Fisher

    I received unsolicited email from this company. When I went to unsubscribe, the web page said “You have been unsubscribed from the newsletter you requested.”. This is a lie — I never requested anything from them. This indicates that they lie. So, don’t trust them.

    • glover

      it just very small part of their lie.

  • glover

    all organic traffic google laundering on adwords. So quality & quantity of their organic traffic going down dramatically. It funny to see lot of new “policies”, “warning” and other shit from matt cutts when their traffic is unstable, low quality and continuously decreasing.

  • http://nickcavarretta.com.au Nick

    A month ago I noticed my organics rise dramatically after modifying my adwords campaigns and thought to myself that Google was feathering their own nest. Last week I did a test (considering I was on the first page for a lot of search queries) and paused my adwords camapigns. The result over one week was 6 search terms dropped 20+ spots in the SERPS and 1 went up 2 spots. Last Friday I turned Adwords back on and oganics are slowly rising again.

  • http://www.magistroi.com borislav

    mnogo pelazna blagodaria

  • James addison

    I am also getting my main revenue through P.P.C, but I still use S.E.O on my site
    because it’s not just for the money, S.E.O improves to build a reputation for
    your website and you do standup for some not so high-end keywords eventually,
    these small in volume keywords also drive sufficient revenue and traffic to
    your site, plus with having S.E.O knowledge you can know which thing can affect
    your site and which cannot, so even though S.E.O has gone a bit dull lately you
    can’t mark it as useless it’s still very important in many terms.