An associate in Northern Arizona pinged me about an odd effect she was seeing in one of her client’s online marketing campaigns. They turned off their PPC campaign for a while and saw a quick and dramatic drop – 50-60% – in traffic from NATURAL search. Not from PPC, which obviously plummeted to zero, but from natural search results. “What gives?” she wanted to know.
Although Google denies any connection between PPC spend and natural search ranking (and I believe them), there is another, less obvious connection between the two: There is ample evidence that searchers are more likely to click a NATURAL search result if there is also a PPC ad on the same page. In their 2007 Search Synergy Report, iCrossing found that clicks increased by more than 90% and actions by 45% when SEO and paid search were combined.
So if you’ve stopped PPC, your leads from natural search ranking could well drop just from that effect.
What’s the takeaway? Maintain an optimized and efficient PPC campaign, maintain your ongoing SEO efforts, including keeping content current on the site and building in-bound links, and focus on site improvements that will turn visitors into customers.