Should I Keep My PPC Search Advertising If I Already Rank #1 Organically?

Jan 15, 2007 • 12:09 pm | comments (11) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Contextual Ads

So if you are getting 65% of your traffic organically from Google for free, should you pay for the other 35%? This is one of the questions posed by a member on High Rankings Forum about whether they should continue to pay for PPC ads for the keyword they already rank #1 for. I don't see why you wouldn't want to pay for it, but there are plenty of good reasons for not paying. Sometime the costs these days are so high in the top position not including other barriers to entry that it doesn't make sense for the average webmaster.

Some of the members have some excellent thoughts on why it would be benefical to keep paying for that extra paid traffic:

There is one theory that having top results in both organic and PPC listings can help build the credibility of the site (Customer: "Hey, these guys are all over this page! They must be the industry leader" or something along those lines.).
Studies have shown that multiple exposures increases CTR. I've even seen a study that asserted that while banner ads may not provide direct benefit in many cases, customers were more likely to buy when exposed to a company's brand in multiple places.

I tend to agree with what they are saying. High rankings in those position will not always warrant high click throughs. Its best to cover your bases. Sometime paying for PPC is not an option, as its too cost prohibitive or not in the original marketing plan for the business. Other times the PPC ad itself can be more successful than the organic listing. Whatever the case, if you are a small business or in a very niche area, branding can be very impactful to your customers and users to see your dominate the area for your search terms. This adds credibility and trust to name and product which can lead to bigger profits or better business oppourtunities.

Discussion at High Rankings

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Gerry Grant

01/15/2007 07:03 pm

I have always thought that when a high ranking occurs naturally it is best to lower your bid and move the paid result down the page. That way they see the result at the top and then if they go further down the page they will see it again. If they click the paid result you won’t need to pay so much for it.


01/15/2007 07:22 pm

Instead of paying for ppc on a keyword that they already rank high for, how about paying for ppc on other terms that relate to their website? I always thought that organic listings and ppc complemented each other that way. The way I see it, PPC should cover secondary and tertiary terms/phrases that a website doesn't get ranked high enough for.

Peter van der Graaf

01/15/2007 07:32 pm

Yes! Both rankings strenghten each others visibility and people are bound to press one of them. If you don't get clicks on your ad you won't pay, so what do you have to loose? Otherwise someone else would hold your PPC spot and he might get that click. With quality scores and landing page factors it becomes cheaper for good organic pages to also have a PPC spot. Organic alone isn't a safe way to build your marketing on. You can loose your spot any time. Both Organic and PPC is always best, just make sure you pay a CPC that is still converting to a good ROI.

Eric Itzkowitz

01/15/2007 08:36 pm

Be careful about lowering/removing your PPC ads for terms you rank well on, otherwise you might end up suffering the way the Lead Marketing person at FTD did shortly following the close of the 2005 Holiday Season; he was "replaced". One of the blog admins can post a link(s) to the appropriate articles if they choose to do so. In short, I've always viewed this as an opportunity--have a well placed paid ad and a top ranking. One says, 1) We've earned the right to rank well, and 2) We can afford to pay for advertising. Combined this should tell a prospective or returning customer your company will be here tomorrow.


01/15/2007 08:46 pm

If the PPC ad is getting a positive return on investment, time to manage and set-up etc. Why in the world would you turn it off? If there are 20 possible clicks on the page, why would you not want to have all 20 links if possible?

Jonathan Beeston

01/16/2007 01:07 pm

Diorex - I couldn't agree more.

Thad Bixby

01/16/2007 01:16 pm

Yes, I like that're not saving money if you're losing sales. What's the old addage, "penny-wise, but pound foolish"? I agree with the earlier point as well; even if I wasn't getting a premium return on my PPC, I would keep it near the top next to my high ranking to reassure customers.

Chris M

01/16/2007 03:16 pm

I think maintaining a PPC campaign despite an organic #1 search engine ranking is sound advice. Marketing is about <b>exposure</b>, and being at the top is no guarantee that you'll stay there. McDonald's and Coca-Cola might be at the top of their respective games, but they also stay ahead in the marketing and advertizing races of their respective games too.


01/16/2007 08:07 pm

I don't do a lot of PPC. I always keep the adds running even when I'm at the top of the SERPS. I can't control what the SEs show in the organic results. I can control the text displayed in the add. The text in the SERPS may not tell your prospective customer exactly what they need to know. Your add may give them that extra information they need to click to your site.


01/17/2007 03:02 am

My experience is that PPC ads for brand terms DO NOT add much, if any, incremental traffic to large, well-branded sites. Through various tests, I've determined that in situations where my company's site ranks #1 for branded search terms, we end up paying for PPC traffic that we would have gotten from organic clicks anyway.

Lee Davies

01/18/2007 11:38 pm

I tend to prefer a combination of Organic and PPC Ads for most campaigns I run regardless of #1 ranking

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