Run Keywords In PPC If Doing Well In Organic Search?

Should you pay to run keyword phrases in a PPC campaign such as Google AdWords if there are pages from your web site reaching top “organic” search results?

It often pays off and should be tested. We almost always generate more conversions running our clients top phrases in a PPC campaign. More importantly there’s usually a positive ROI from the additional conversions (Gross Profit minus the cost of the PPC campaign). In this article I’ll show you why it often pays off and how to run a test. 


Why Running Keywords Reaching Top Organic Results In A PPC Campaign Will Likely Pay Off

Two Chances To Get The Click. With an ad in both a top PPC position and a top organic listing you have two opportunities to entice searchers to click through to your site.

Amplification. Often the traffic through the PPC ad is 100% incremental AND the ad is responsible for increasing the traffic on the organic link as well.” This can be tested (see below). For more about Amplification see

PPC ads often reach the highest positions in the search results. If your cost per conversion allows you to keep ads for many of your important keyword in positions 1 to 3 in a PPC network like Google AdWords they will usually be displayed above the organic results right in the sweet spot of the eye path. These are the search listings that most people look at first and will often click on.


PPC Listing
PPC ads often reach the highest positions in the search results.


Your Total Cost Per Conversion May Be Lower. The fact that pages from your site reach top organic results could lead to a lower overall cost per conversion for all search results for specific keywords.

Add the conversions from both your PPC and organic listings together and then subtract the cost of the PPC ads (and possibly some amount for SEO costs). Based on these results you may be willing to run at a higher cost per conversion in your PPC ads allowing you to run the ads in higher positions than otherwise.

Keeps a Competitor Out Of That Position. If you don’t run a PPC ad in a top ad position some competitor’s ad will surely be there where it could possibly entice your potential visitor to click on their ad.

More Control over the Search Listing. The description in the organic search listings are controlled by the search engines. You do have some control over this such as creating compelling Meta Description tags (which may or may not be used by the search engine for the description in the search results) or by modifying the text on the page to try to influence the description the search engines generate.

However, with PPC ads you have much more control over the search description (the ad copy; which includes a headline, lines of description, and a display URL).

You can easily  test copy in a PPC campaign to develop search listings that result in the best combination of Click Through Rates and Conversion Rates.

You Have Control Over The Landing Page. You have some control over which page from your site will reach the highest organic results (by optimizing the page you’d like to reach top results, etc). However with PPC ads you decide which landing page is best.

Plus you can systematically test landing pages on your site as well as custom landing pages to find out what landing page results in the best conversion rates.

You Can Run Phrase Variations & Misspellings. In a PPC network you can run many variations of your important keyword phrases as well as misspellings, many for which you may not be reaching top organic results.

You May Not Be Reaching Top Organic Results Consistently. How are you determining how well you are doing with important organic keyword phrases? Your own searches? A ranking tool such as Google’s webmasters tools?

The fact is your web pages are not likely ranking as well as you might think for a host of reasons including localization (people may see different results based on their location), personalization (How much a search engine knows about searchers based on cookies, logins to services such as Google accounts, recent search history etc affect the results they see – and this may be the reason you see better results than many other people).

In addition  the organic search rankings can change, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a period of time for many reasons; time of day, increasing competition, seasonal affects, changes in search engine algorithms, changes to your web pages, etc. It’s very difficult to keep track of these changes in real time. PPC ads allow you to have search results in play even if organic phrases are not reaching top positions.

If an organic listing is not in the top 3 or so positions, especially if they get pushed down below “the fold” because of elements above the organic results such as PPC ads, samples of images, videos, news, local search listings that do not include your listings, etc you are almost certainly missing opportunities.

PPC Ads Can Appear In Partner Search Engines. Some PPC network partners, such as AOL, display more PPC ads above the organic listings than Bing or Google. This pushes your organic listing down making it more beneficial to have a PPC ad in a top position.

PPC Ads Can Appear on More Thant Just Search Engines. PPC ads can appear on many web pages, not just the search engine results, via the Content/Display Networks available in most PPC networks. Your ads can appear near related articles in an online newspaper or industry journal for example.


The Special Case of Brand Phrases

It will almost certainly pay to run your brand phrases in a PPC campaign even if you’re reaching top organic results. Here’s why.

Higher Conversion Rates for Brand Phrases. There is almost always a higher conversion rate for brand phrases compared to non-brand phrases. People who search on your brand phrases knew something about you before they came to your web site possibly from a referral, print or other traditional media, or perhaps they were past clients, perhaps they were recently on your site days or weeks earlier, etc. These people are much more likely to convert than people who searched on non brand phrases who likely knew nothing about you before they reached the site.

It’s not unusual for brand phrases to convert 3 to 10 times better than non-brand phrases.

Much Lower Average Cost Per Click (CPC). Usually there is less competition for your brand phrases in a PPC network so the Cost per Click can be very low compared to non-brand phrases (However this is not always if, for example, if you have lots of resellers, appear on many listing sites such as hotels, restaurants, car models etc). For example you might be paying an average of $1.50 per click for your non-brand phrases while the average cost per click for your brand phrases averages $0.15 per click (Yes, a factor of 10 is not uncommon).

Much Lower Cost Per Conversion. The combination of higher conversion rates and lower Costs Per Click results in a much lower cost per conversion for brand phrases than for non-brand phrases.


How To Run a Test and Determine ROI

I wrote an article some time ago that outlines how to run a test to determine if you are developing a positive ROI when you run phrases in a PPC campaign that are also reaching top organic results. It talks about brand phrases, but the method applies to non brand phrases too. See Run Your Brand Phrases In A PPC Campaign? Part 2: How to Test the Results