May 8, 2014, 9:40 AM

How does paid search marketing impact results from organic listings?

It’s a question online marketer Jon Hedges get asked a lot. He provides two case studies of automotive clients that show how traffic and sales from natural search results are affected by increased paid search spending.

If you sell aftermarket car parts online and are new to automotive PPC (pay per click, or paid search), or are just considering PPC, you may wonder what will happen to your site's existing organic traffic. It's a question we hear a lot. Here are the results of two case studies for clients, showing actual results before and after we started paid search campaigns.

Auto SEO/PPC Case Study #1: Building on High Organic Traffic

For this first client Hedges & Company launched a paid search campaign at the end of Week 3 in this graph (the actual statistics and client name are confidential). Week 4 is the first week where any significant results start showing up.

This particular client had decent organic visits to begin with and good organic rankings in Google and Bing.

Intuitively, you might expect a drop off in organic traffic when starting a paid search campaign and that's not unusual. But in this case organic visits actually increased!

This first graph shows total paid visits (now called "sessions" in Google Analytics) and total organic visits. We started this client out using Google AdWords and the Google Display Network. By Week 11 the total paid visits actually climbed ahead of organic visits. In fact, for this client organic visits were higher in Weeks 12, 13 and 14 than in previous weeks.

In the second graph we compare organic/SEO revenue to paid revenue. There’s a lot of variability in both, but you can see by Week 6 (three weeks after the start of a paid search campaign), organic sales fell behind paid search sales. Organic sales remained strong, however, and in the last two weeks of the chart organic sales were very high and not affected by paid search at all.

In this case the client has increased total sales revenue without any drop off in organic revenue. This client's campaigns are currently migrating over to Yahoo/Bing Advertising Network and we expect a continued rise in total visits and sales.

Auto SEO/PPC Case Study #2: Limited Paid Search Budget

This second Hedges & Company automotive client launched a paid search campaign using a limited paid search budget (again, the actual statistics and automotive client name are confidential).

The first graph shows total visits from organic/SEO traffic and paid/PPC traffic. In Week 10 of the graph we did a soft launch of paid search using a limited budget and started this automotive parts marketing campaign only in Google AdWords and the Google Display Network.

Week 11 of the graph was the first full week for paid marketing campaigns.

In this example, automotive organic visits dropped slightly but the net result is an increase in total visits from organic and paid search.

In the second graph showing weekly sales, Week 11 is the first week for significant sales coming from automotive parts paid search campaigns.

The net result of paid search combined with organic search is an overall sales increase and continued sales growth for this client.

The advantages of combining automotive paid search and SEO marketing

Organic traffic is great> It gives you more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP). However, you shouldn’t expect this traffic to be “free” because there’s always some effort required to have good organic rankings in Google or in Bing, either on your own or from an automotive SEO company like Hedges & Company.

One thing to keep in mind with automotive SEO marketing is that you don’t have complete control of which page shows up for an organic search term. Paid search lets you deep link to product pages or landing pages. It sends visitors to specific pages which increases your conversion rate and online sales, and reduces your bounce rate.

Automotive paid search campaigns when combined with organic SEO marketing can bring a cost-effective, net increase in visits and sales.

Founded in 2004, Hedges & Company is a full-service market research and digital marketing agency serving enthusiast markets. It is located in Hudson, Ohio.

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