Though most marketers likely think of their SEO activities and their paid search advertising as complementary, you’ve probably wondered, at one time or another, what would happen if you paused your CPC ads entirely or just cut them back dramatically.
Google’s research folks covered this topic back in July of last year, when it concluded that paid search ads give you an 89% incremental lift in site visitors — incremental to the traffic you would normally get from your organic listings. Yes, it’s self-serving, in that Google has every incentive to encourage folks to spend on paid listings (they don’t earn from organic listings, after all), but it’s still interesting to consider.
The company has just released an update to that original study, having expanded their research to include more advertisers and more testing scenarios.
What’s stayed the same, almost, is the incremental lift that paid search ads bring. This time, the researchers found that incremental ad clicks went down by 85% if campaigns were paused entirely. Yes, organic results went up — but not nearly enough to make up for the loss from the paid ads. (The 4% difference from the previous study was attributed to the additional advertisers included and potential seasonal factors.)
If spending was decreased (though the researchers didn’t say by how much), incremental clicks went down by 80%.
Google also looked at the opposite side of the coin. What if spending is started up from a dead stop? The researchers found a 79% increase in incremental clicks. And if spending was increased from a non-zero starting point, the advertisers Google studied saw an average 78% lift.