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Is it Time to Start Using Pay-Per-Click Advertising?


So, your company has been active in making sure your site is well ranked on Google through search engine optimization, but you’re starting to see lots of competitors’ ads positioned above your organic listings.

Should you give in and start buying pay-per-click ads on Google?

Let’s first take a look at the changing landscape.

More Competition for Page 1 Rankings

Over time, Google has redesigned and introduced new features on its search engine to continue improving the amount of time used on the site and number of people finding it to be their go-to resource for everything. At the same time, it’s repositioned and tried various ways to display Google Adwords, to generate the best click-through rates and gain new accounts.

When Google first introduced paid ads to its search engine, there wasn’t much reason to consider paying for placement. The ads were positioned to the right of organic listings, making it easy for users to discern paid ads vs. earned listings and the result was that few people clicked on those ads.

Eventually, the search giant began displaying a few ads above the organic listings along with the ads down the right side and, eventually, replaced the right column of ads with other features like images, Google My Business and e-commerce ads.

Today, you’re more likely to see more ads at the top of Google results pages for many more keyword searches, pushing organic listings off the main screen. At the same time, organic listings (aka regular listings) are competing with other organic search content like image search, YouTube videos, Google local listings, People Also Ask questions, Popular Products and Discover More Places.

How many ads and or other types of content your site must compete against really varies by industry and keyword. For more niche terms you may find that there are few, if any, Google Adwords, while more competitive terms may have many ads.

SEO vs. PPC Performance

Despite the design changes positioning paid ads at the top of Google search pages, organic listings are still the dominant source of site traffic, with 53% of overall website traffic coming from organic search.

PPC ads generate approximately 27% of website traffic. For companies in technology-driven industries, the click-through rate is lower than for other industries, at 2.09%. The average conversion rate is 4.4%.

By comparison, organic listings that appear in the #1 position average a 28.5% click-through rate. The click-through rate drops as you get lower on the page and the #10 listing generates about 2.5% — still higher than the click-through rates for PPC in technology industries. There’s no question about the value of SEO, 99% of search users click on at least one link on the first page of search results. (Source: Higher Visibility)

In fact, B2B and technology companies generate twice the revenue from organic search traffic than from any other channel. In the end, SEO outperforms PPC, so PPC wouldn’t be a good replacement for a well-executed SEO program but you might consider doing both.

What about SEO AND PPC?

So the next question is should you consider doing both SEO and PPC? Studies have shown that PPC ads can cannibalize some of your organic traffic, but at the same time increase click-through rates overall.

The nice thing about PPC is that you can easily test its ability to improve site traffic. You can get a campaign up and running within a couple days and take it down at any time. Running tests to see the impact of PPC on your overall site traffic isn’t a bad idea, but whether to go down that path is best answered by considering the following:

  1. Has your organic search traffic gone down?
    If your site traffic has been falling, even while maintaining the same Google rankings, then it’s likely that PPC ads from competitors are impacting your click-through rates. However, it’s also possible your organic search traffic has dropped as result of inattention to your SEO. Review your site rankings; if Google rankings are lower than in prior periods, you’ll want to get your SEO back up to snuff.
  2. Are there important keywords for which you are unable to attain a Page 1 Google ranking?
    As competition on Google has increased with more and more companies advertising and doing SEO, it can be more difficult to earn and maintain Page 1 rankings for highly competitive terms. Using PPC to augment your SEO by targeting keywords for which you’re having difficulty cracking onto Page 1 is a great way to use both channels.
  3. Do you have well-known competitors that are difficult to compete with online?
    If you have a competitor who’s so well known that many potential customers would search for their products by brand name, it can difficult to gain Page 1 organic Google rankings based on that competitor’s name. That’s one situation where PPC (by buying the competitor’s name as a keyword) can help drive traffic not otherwise available to you.
  4. Are you trying to build your brand?  The one nice thing about organic search is that it does create a more level playing field for companies to earn Page 1 rankings. But you want more than a level playing field when competing for online traffic. You want Google users to go to a search results page and feel compelled to click on your listing alone. Adding PPC to the mix so search users see both your PPC ad AND your SEO listing helps elevate your brand above others whose ads may appear on the page but do not have organic listings there or vice versa, the companies that have organic listings but no PPC ads.

There’s lots to consider and we’re here to help. Contact us or call 330-666-5164 for assistance in determining how SEO and/or PPC can help improve your website’s lead generation performance.


Studies have shown that PPC ads can cannibalize some of your organic traffic, but at the same time increase click-through rates overall.