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Google Study: Paid Search Does Not Equal Organic Traffic Cannibalization

Last updated 7 years ago

Wondering if your PPC campaign steals traffic from your organic results?

Last week, Dr. Hal Varian, the Chief Economist at Google, and his team released the results of their research that, as Matt Van Wagner states, "answers a question that paid search managers across the world get asked on a regular basis: 'Why the [bleep] are we advertising on our own [bleeping] brand terms when we are ranked #1 for those [bleepety-bleep-bleeping] terms already? [Bleep]!"

While the boys at Google phrased it a bit more eloquently than Wagner, the point still hits home with far too many business owners. Is it really worth it to possibly pay for a click on the same keyword that you are already ranking really well for organically?

According to the Google Study, it is a resounding YES!

In fact, they found that paid search ads give you an 89% lift in site visitors - above and beyond traffic you would normally expect from your organic listings (Wagner).

You can download the full study at the Google Research Blog: Incremental Clicks Impact of Search Advertising by David X Chan, Yuan Yuan, Jim Koehler and Deepak Kumar.

While this finding is relatively great news for you, the business owner, you may also be wondering how reliable is Google's study given that it is fact ultimately endorsing their own product?

Wagner raises this exact same concern in his article stipulating that "since Google has made no bones about the fact that it is their own research, they are being upfront and candid." (Wagner |

Not only that, within the report they provide adequate detail on their methodology and statistical data. The data focuses on how the number of organic clicks change when search ads are present and when search ad campaigns are shut off. Plus, the study focused on data from 446 campaigns running in Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States from october 2010 through March 2011.

As Wagner summarizes, "even when the advice is more anecdotal than data-driven, such as keeping your competitors from dominating the paid ad spots, brand building and controlling messages, most of us buy into the idea that it is good to bid on brand and other high ranking terms" (Wagner | searchengineland).

To read more from Wagner's view point and his verification method using the Nuclear Option, visit

Do you agree with Google and Wagner that bidding on high ranking organic terms is good PPC practice?


If you'd like to learn more about how pay-per-click advertising can help grow your business, contact TeamBishop today!

Header photo courtesy of Wagern & SearchEngineLand.


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