Are You Cannibalizing Organic Traffic with Branded PPC Advertising?

Is Your PPC Advertising Cannibalizing Organic Traffic?

Is Your PPC Advertising Cannibalizing Organic Traffic?

Marketers may ask themselves: "Why should I bid on branded keywords? If I rank for them organically, wouldn't I end up paying for something I would normally get for free?"

It is a valid question to ask - but whether or not users would still click on your organic listing when you stop bidding on branded keywords is something that should be tested. Pay-per-click branded ads can help increase profitability, website traffic, and enable more control over messaging and timing. It is also important to note that branded keywords can often be most effective when SEO & PPC work together.

Can Users Tell the Difference Between Organic & Paid Listings?
With more and more ad options showing up on the SERPs - there are product listings, sitelink extensions, image extensions, location & phone extensions, etc, - there is less space available for organic results, and users are less likely to distinguish between organic and paid listings.

A study that delved into how users differentiate organic and paid listings conducted by customer insight specialists Bunnyfoot revealed that 40% of users didn't know the top 3 placements in SERPs were ads. The users assumed those were the results that best matched their search query, or the sites that are most searched.

Because of this, you could end up spending money on users that just don't know that you are paying for that top position. Your branded keywords may not have any competition - so then where's the value with bidding on those keywords?

When it comes to easy, quick testing, ads offer a lot more flexibility than their organic counterparts. They allow you to utilize tools that organic simply can't offer such as: editable sitelinks, phone extensions (click-to-call), location extensions and even the opportunity to collect user info directly in the ad.

There is also far more control available to advertisers when using paid listings. You aren't at the mercy of the search engine - you can choose where and when you send users for the particular search phrases you are using. Furthermore, the ability to use ad scheduling and tailor ad copy for your audience is particularly beneficial for any promotions your brand might be running.

While it might be fairly rare, you never know when a competitor might sneak in and try to show up for your brand to purposely give a potential user a negative experience with your brand. Don't give them the opportunity. Branded is less expensive and will have high quality scores, affecting the overall account's quality score.

Importance of Mobile
Mobile is particularly important to pay attention to because of the increasing use of smartphones and Google's new enhanced campaigns pushing all advertisers into the space. If that isn't reason enough, Google recently released a study showing that 88% of users that click on a mobile ad would not have clicked on the site's organic listing. The study was conducted for a year and analyzed 12 verticals. Below is the average Incremental Ad Clicks separated by industry:

Incremental Mobile Clicks by Vertical

The graphic above shows just how important ad space is on mobile devices, even if it's for a branded term. Your traffic could increase by more than 80% on mobile devices by taking mobile advertising real estate.

Test it Out
Try two time periods of equal length where you analyze behavior from having the ads on, and the 2nd period with the branded ads turned off. Pay attention to traffic and conversions - did your traffic decrease when you turned off the ads, and did your organic branded conversions increase? Answering those two questions will help determine the effectiveness of buying branded keywords and how effectively they can work hand-in-hand with SEO efforts.

What is your experience using organic traffic with branded ppc advertising? Let us know by tweeting us @BFMweb or by leaving a comment below.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the post! I’m hoping to eventually start to move away from organic traffic, because I feel that I rely too heavily on it. Do you have any further recommendations on how to do that, specifically with blog posts even? Thanks!

  2. Gerald Ford said:

    Hi!
    I must say you’ve written a very interesting article on SEO. Nice tips you have especially when it comes to organic SEO. I’m pretty sure that these tips will help newbie’s to gain more targeted traffic to their blogs :D I like the way you recap this as it makes it very light to read.
    Great article and Keep Posting! :-)

  3. Tera Brown said:

    Hi Vanessa – thanks for your comment! Check out our additional blog posts in the Paid Search & Display section of the site for some great articles on how to best pay for your traffic. But make sure you don’t stop one method in favor of the other – both paid and organic traffic are best when utilized together.

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