PPC Management And Organic SEO Make Excellent Bedfellows

Traditional wisdom is that a web startup should being developing traffic with pay-per-click (PPC) marketing in order to get off the ground, and then switch to organic SEO as it starts to build enough traffic that it doesn’t have to spend money on PPC anymore. A new study from Google, however, suggests that this might not be the case after all.

The traditional wisdom is based on the assumption that, if someone searches for a keyword and would otherwise have seen your site in the top few positions, there’s no need to also have the site in the Sponsored Links (aka the “PPC area”). If the searcher clicks on the Sponsored Link, it costs you money — whereas if your site wasn’t doing PPC, they would (presumably) have clicked on your natural link and thus you would have gotten the same visitor without paying.

However, Google’s research has shown a very different story. Let’s give an example that uses their conclusions, but uses simpler numbers than their study does.

Scenario 1: PPC + SEO
Clicks/day from PPC: 100
Clicks/day from SEO: 100

Scenario 2: SEO Only
Clicks/day from SEO: 111

Company A is getting 200 clicks per day, 100 each from their PPC campaign and from their organic SEO. That same company, the next month, pauses their PPC campaign in order to see what will happen to their organic search results. Conventional wisdom says they should get about 200 organic clicks per day — but according to Google’s study, the average company will get only 111 clicks per day from organic results.

That’s a loss of a whopping 45% of their clicks per day by moving away from PPC. Now, depending on how much you spend per PPC click, your conversion rate, and your income per conversion, that may actually be a good deal for some companies — but most companies would collapse if they lost 45% of their client base, even if it did cost them 33% of their income to maintain those clients.

Of course, any such company would be well-advised to hire a PPC management firm to reduce their PPC costs and improve their PPC effectiveness. If your PPC campaign isn’t performing like you’d like, PPC management is a much better solution, according to the Google study, than pulling out of PPC altogether.