PPC Research About Synergies Between Paid Search and Organic Search

Industry StatsAbout two weeks ago a customer asked about the wisdom of buying PPC placements for keyword phrases they already rank for.  Good question!

The first part of the answer was easy… definitely buy your brand name keyword.  We recently shared some data about a boutique hotel that enjoyed a boost in ROI after adding brand-name keywords to a PPC campaign.

The second part of the answer was that older research had shown that showing up for both PPC and organic results increased overall click thru rates.  The problem is that I can’t find that research anywhere on the Internet.  So, I spent a few hours looking for new research that would show synergies between PPC and organic advertising.  Here is what I found:

The Search Synergy Report by ICrossing was the most promising research. It referenced a recent study done by Nielsen ReelResearch (which I couldn’t access): when both paid and organic search results appeared on the same page, that site got 92% of the clicks, while an organic listing alone resulted in a click 60% of the time.

The iCrossing Search Synergy took that research further, it also found that not only do the clicks increase, but the quality of visitor increases with more page views (44%), more visitors (41%), and more time on site (39%) and more orders (45%).   The single factor impacting the changes in online performance was the average position of they keywords.

Assuming you believe research… you have to conclude that online performance is dramatically improved if PPC keywords are also ranked in natural search.

I found some other nice pieces of paid search research if you want to do some of your own research:

The Atlas Rank Report: How Search Engine Rank Impacts Traffic: Studied Click-thru-Rates on PPC ads and found:

  • Traffic drops significantly by rank.  While your sales may be costing you 10% less by maintaining 3rd
    rank, you could be losing nearly half of the customer acquisitions possible in 1st rank.
  • The drop in traffic is consistent with each drop in rank, dispelling the myth that you must be in the
    top 3 ranks.
  • While we have focused on pay-for-position search, the principles apply to paid inclusion and natural search as well.

Search Conversion Rates by Daypart Looked at sponsored search and the conversion rates, by hour, for the travel industry.  To summarize, conversion rates are below average before 8:00 AM, above average from 8:00AM-2:00PM, and about average the rest of the day.  Lunch time is the “hottest” time for conversions.

How Much Are You Paying for Your Customers’ Navigational Behavior? 71% of all PPC traffic is “navigational search” which is someone returning to your website through a brand name (or domain name) search.  Most marketers think they are reaching out to first time visitors who haven’t heard of them… but that is less than 1/3 of the traffic!

The Impact of Overlap on Reach, Frequency & Conversions found that overlapping advertising works well and too often credit is inappropriately given to a search engine, which in reality only produced the last visit before conversion, not the first:

  • 2/3rds of converting visitors were exposed to ads from multiple sites.
  • Consumers reached across multiple publishers were twice as likely to convert as those reached only on a single publisher

The Combined Impact of Search and Display Advertising found that sponsored search clickers were 22 percent more likely to convert if they were exposed to display ads from the same advertiser.


1 reply
  1. Joel McLaughlin
    Joel McLaughlin says:

    Wow, interesting stats. iCrossing does some excellent research and I always love seeing what their results are. I always like to take large clients through some pay per click trials before implementing an organic campaign so that we can see what keywords will be best invested in. Thanks for the update!

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