Category Archives Search Engine Marketing (PPC)

2019 SEO Trends: Does Paid Search Steal Traffic from Organic?

published by on 23rd April 2019 under Search Engine Marketing (PPC), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

If you’re running both an SEO program and paid marketing campaigns, how exactly does the relationship work? Is it a symbiotic relationship? Is ranking in both the organic listings and the paid listings mutually beneficial? Or is there a cannibalistic relationship, where you end up paying for clicks that you should be getting for free?

We recently took a closer look at one of the campaigns we are running where we’ve started seeing a considerable drop in organic traffic as we started to push budget to our paid campaigns to grow it aggressively.

 

Overall Traffic and Clicks:

Looking at the overall traffic and clicks for non-brand campaigns in Google Ads versus the non-brand traffic and clicks from Search Console, we see the following results:

Impressions and Clicks

The charts show the trend over the last 90 days for Non-Branded Queries from Google Ads and Organic. There has been a sharp increase in both impressions and clicks in Google Ads. For organic, on the other hand, impressions have an upward trend which is indicative of positive growth in visibility (we are ranking better for keywords). However, clicks are on a downward trend — this means that while we are ranking for search terms, people are not finding the client’s organic result relevant or are more enticed to click on other results.

While it did raise concerns, it wasn’t enough for us to conclude that there was a cannibalisation problem. So, we took it a step further.

CTR per Position

A more definitive way of identifying a potential cannibalisation issue is to look at the CTR of ranking keywords. To do this, we pulled the data from search console taking the average clickthrough rate of keywords occupying position 1, 2, 3 until position 10 in the first page of the search results for the last 3 months (Jan to Mar) comparing the CTR for these between 2018 and 2019.

We also removed all branded queries from as this heavily skews the data (don’t worry, we’ll get to brand in a bit!)

CTR Desktop

CTR Mobile

The data is interesting. A good example to look at would be the CTR for keywords in the first position for desktop search results. From January to March 2018, keywords holding position 1 had an average CTR of 47%, while for the same period in 2019, the CTR is down to 37%.

What is happening?

Even if we have better visibility — whether this is a result of ranking higher or increasing the number of keywords we rank for organically — actual organic traffic to the site will be less than last year because people are less inclined to click on the organic listing.

There are several possible reasons for this:

  • More ads are being shown for the search queries
  • Larger ad format gives more SERP real estate to ads
  • Labeling of ads have changed over the two time periods, making it less obvious to the user
  • SERP features are also taking valuable space in the results page

Below is an example worth looking at. For the keyword “Auckland hotels”, the search engine results page (SERP)*, shows 4 Google Ads – this already takes up the first virtual fold. You will need to scroll down to find the organic listings. However, on top of that, there’s Google Hotel Ads and a map. 4 organic results follow this. Then, the SERP feature for Top Stories is shown. Another 5 organic results. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see another set of ads.

(*Note that SERP results may vary per location and are affected when you are logged in to your profile)

Google Ads Example_Auckland Hotels

In short, the #1 rank in organic is no longer the #1 position in the search results.

An interesting study by Edwords captures the evolution of the SERPs with this series of photos. In a span of 4 years, Google Ads have taken up more real estate than organic as shown below:

SERP evolution

FIRST has also been monitoring the trend of SERP features since late 2017. Shopping ads, local packs, image results, video results, featured snippets, questions and more are also taking up valuable space in the search results.

Creating a Synergistic Strategy

The SERPs will continue to evolve and your competitors understand the value of paid campaigns. The Ads will continue to push down organic results taking clicks (and by extension, traffic) from organic.

Is there keyword/traffic cannibalisation or is it just a myth?

The cannibalisation has always been happening. It is by Google’s design. In this case, the increased performance of paid campaigns has an impact on organic, but may not be as big as we thought. The cannibalisation is more a result of the general SERP changes that Google is doing versus the paid campaigns encroaching on the keywords we target for organic.

Looking at it from the other side of the coin, you may ask if SEO is still necessary at this point? Why not drop the SEO and focus just on paid marketing?

The answer is quite simple, paid ads require a budget and you cannot possibly target all keywords (unless you have an infinite budget and are fully aware of what organic keywords your site is ranking for that bring in traffic).

It is understandable to direct most of your paid campaign budget towards transactional keywords that have a higher potential to convert. But the buyer’s journey is not always that straightforward. Buyers tend to do research and want to be educated about products before making a purchase. This is where your website’s organic rankings come in.

You can use well-optimised blog posts or category pages to target keywords that focus on the top of the funnel – those that pertain to educating the buyer about your industry, about the existence of your products and services.

If you want to further investigate the relationship between Organic and Paid, we recommend going at it with a more granular scope. Run a keyword diagnosis for both your paid campaigns and organics. Eliminate other likely causes of traffic decline.

A good tool to use would be the Paid & Organic Report within Google Ads. To access this report, you will need to link your Google Search Console property to Google Ads.

Login to your Google Ads account, click on Tools > Setup > Linked Accounts. Click on Search Console. This will open a prompt that lets you add the Search Console account.

Link New Site

You need to be a verified owner (not just a delegated owner) for the property in Search Console to be able to do this. Otherwise, you can send a request and the owner can approve it for you.

Once you’ve successfully linked the two, you can go Reports > Predefined Reports (Dimensions) > Basic > Paid & Organic. This will show you a table of Search Terms, Search Result Type (Ad Shown only, Organic shown only, Both Shown) and performance metrics.

This powerful report can help you decide on several things. First, it helps identify keywords that are missing in one channel or the other. Second, it can be a valuable tool for testing – if you have keywords that rank well for both organic and paid, you can use the data to experiment pausing campaigns or throttling back bids to see if organic search traffic and conversions have significant increases. On the flip side, if you find keywords that are not doing so well in organic rankings, you may want to test supporting these further with paid ads.

Your Brand Strategy

This article covers the impact of running both an SEO program of work and a paid campaign to non-brand keywords. So, what should you be doing about brand?

FIRST recommends that you bid on your brand terms.

We always get that initial reaction from clients: “Why do I need to bid on my own brand terms? I’m obviously already ranking #1 for it!”

There are three main reasons why you should invest in a brand campaign:

  • Brand awareness – Google released a study in 2011 showing how search ads drive 89% incremental traffic. In our own research, we found that running ads alongside having a good SEO program has resulted in as much as 20% increase in organic traffic. Of course, this varies across different industries. The main driver of the increase in organic traffic is increase in brand awareness.
  • Protection from Competitors – For some cutthroat industries, an easy win for your competitors would be to bid on your brand terms. You can file a trademark complaint with Google if you have your brand name trademarked and they can apply certain restrictions but there are things that your competitors can still get away with (such as using your trademark as keywords or in the display URL). Your best defense would be to bid on your own brand terms so you at least take one of the four available spots in the Ad results.
  • It is relatively cheap to do it – Because you have a higher quality score on your own brand terms, your cost per click would be significantly less for your own brand terms versus what the competitors will be paying for it.
  • Highlight promotions and offers – Another advantage of bidding for brand is the ability to highlight offers and to take people straight to the relevant pages, which will make them more likely to convert into a sale. If your product or service has a longer buying cycle, paid ads can be used to show other forms of contact such as phone numbers on mobile devices.

In conclusion, FIRST Digital highly recommends running both an SEO program of work and a paid campaign for brand and non-brand terms. If anything, having visibility in both the organic results and the paid results increases your chances of getting that visitor to click through to your website.

Outstanding Revenue Increase 10X in 5 months from Performance Media

published by on 2nd August 2016 under Case Studies, Digital Strategy, Performance Media, etc

Pumpkin Patch Performance Media case study

Pumpkin Patch case study testimonial_Maree Lawrencev2

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Pumpkin Patch is a fashion retail chain based in Auckland, New Zealand that provides premium kids clothing ranges both in store and online. Over the years, Pumpkin Patch expanded into the AU, US and UK markets, initially with retail stores and mail order catalogues. More recently Pumpkin Patch has been driving growth in these markets through digital channels.

To sustain continued growth and expansion, this global brand needed help in developing a customer focused and data-driven approach to their digital marketing.
 

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Google Customer Match: A Great Opportunity to Retarget Your Customers

published by on 17th November 2015 under Search Engine Marketing (PPC)

Google Customer Match: A New Great Opportunity to Retarget Your Customers

 

What is Customer Match?

Early in October this year, Google launched Customer Match, an anticipated product feature in AdWords that allows advertisers to upload email lists to target customers or prospects in their database by email where the email address is linked to a Google account. This offers advertisers great opportunities to re-engage with their customers and make the most out of their email databases.

 

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Harmoney Gains Deeper Customer Insights And Smarter Campaign Optimisation With Google Tag Manager

published by on 27th August 2015 under Case Studies, Conversion (CRO), Google Analytics, etc

Google Tag Manager GTM case study for Harmoney NZ

Google Tag Manager GTM case study testimonial of Glen Mackellaig

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Harmoney, New Zealand’s first peer-to-peer lending marketplace, gains deeper insights into site conversion rates, funnels, customer behaviour and page optimisations with Google Tag Manager (GTM).

 

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YouTube Case Study – Promoted Videos

published by on 23rd July 2014 under Case Studies, Search Engine Marketing (PPC), Social Media Marketing

YOUTUBE VIDEO CASE STUDY – MAXIMUM EXPOSURE, MINIMAL COST.

How quality content and smart promotion drove a phenomenal amount of YouTube video views for SERATO.com

The Serato Icon Artist Series is a diverse, hand-picked collection of artists who represent and epitomize the Serato ethos. They include DJ”s like Fatboy Slim, Erykah Badu, Mix Master Mike and The Gaslamp Killer.

Given the popularity of video amongst the Serato and DJ celebrity fan base, as well as the reach and targeting potential of YouTube, YouTube Promoted Video was an obvious promotional platform choice to amplify and extend the reach of the Icon Artist Series Video’s cost effectively.

FIRST’s goal was to generate maximum video views whilst minimising the average cost per view (CPV).

By focusing on a few key elements, Serato & FIRST managed to gain some impressive exposure and reach, very cost effectively for the launch of the first few Icon Artist series videos.

See how with 60% less media cost, we were able gain a 145% increase in views while reducing the cost per view by 84%.  In addition find key insights to help you maximise the effectiveness of your YouTube Promoted Video campaigns.

Download the full YouTube case study here

YouTube case study - promoted videos

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