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SEO Vs PPC – Search Marketing Is Not A Fight! (Another Mini Case Study)

Many Pay Per Click (PPC) management and digital marketing agencies will have you believe that the paid search model for your online marketing campaign is the only way to go. In my previous post on how Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should work together rather than as separate entities, I outlined a few reasons how PPC alone can effect your bottom line and have you and your company leaving money on the table. Today I am going to show you an example of how some companies are literally wasting their money by only concentrating on paid search.

We have kindly been given permission from one of our clients to present the following data. Our client is the Carnegie Court Dublin Hotel. The Carnegie Court came to us a while back with a pretty standard request. They wanted to promote the hotel online in the most cost effective manner maintaining a positive ROI. The Carnegie Court had and still has affiliates, however they wanted to generate more bookings through their own website without having to pay any affiliate commissions. RedFly Marketing got to work.

As part of their overall online marketing strategy, we created a Google adwords Pay Per Click campaign to gather conversion data and raw keyword data. With this data we were able to optimize their site for literally hundreds of long tail keywords that converted relatively easy.

For example, we knew from our Google Adwords PPC data that the search term “accommodation swords dublin hotel” although having low volume, converted at 80% over a six month period. Using some simple SEO methods we were able to quickly and easily optimize the site for a number one position in the organic results for that term. That’s great, but as I mentioned, that search term as you can imagine has a very low volume. Do that one hundred times for search terms that you KNOW convert from testing with PPC and you have something pretty amazing. This is the idea behind long tail search engine optimisation.

Next Up -Volume.

Now that a lot of the hard work for the long tail search terms has been done (It’s actually a never ending process throughout the length of a campaign), we can move on to optimizing for higher volume search terms. After a few months of Organic Search Engine Optimisation we were able to get the site to a number one position for the MUCH higher volume search term “Dublin Hotel”. Organic search results are clicked on up to nine times more than paid results. Because of the volume and conversions the organic results we achieved, the hotel is constantly booked out and they have no need to use paid search any longer. Why pay for leads if you are at your capacity anyway? If however there is a lull, we can simply turn the PPC campaign back on and reach a wider audience through the Google network of sites.

So What Is the Point In This?

Today I decided to do some testing seeing it has been quite a while since we paused the Hotel campaign. I set up a new campaign with the hotel account managed by us to test out the price the competition were paying for the sponsored listings.

With our previous Pay Per Click management on their campaign, we were able to optimize their quality score and get it to the best possible. In this case, the illusive one cent minimum bid. Next, I set the max bid to €30 a click to insure we were placed at the top position of the paid listings. I created an ad and set it live.

Unfortunately, the €30 bid was not even enough to obtain a paid search spot above the organic/free results. Because the keyword had the best possible score and we had a high max CPC bid, we can safely assume that the ads ranking higher (Above the organic free results) were paying upward of €30 a click. That’s assuming that they too had an excellent quality score. For the purpose of this example, let’s assume it was a nice round €30 a click they too were paying.

Now, looking at the average stats of the Hotel, I can tell you that the hotel receives:

  1. An average of 290 visitors a week or 1160 visitors a month from the search term “Dublin Hotel” alone.
  2. Assuming that the the organic result is clicked nine times more than the paid result, we can assume that the paid ad is CLICKED about 128 times a month.
  3. Again, assuming the paid listing is costing the advertiser €30 a click, those advertisers are spending €3840 a month for that search term alone!

All that while our hotel sits back and enjoys more visits, bookings and ROI from their initial investment in search engine optimisation. Again, this is only ONE search term.

Now I am not saying that paid search is a waste of money. Done correctly it is not. What I am saying is that PPC and SEO should be used to help each other as part of an overall search engine marketing campaign. You want to use your advertising spend wisely so that you can explore other online advertising avenues further down the line.

I hope this has shown the importance of using PPC data for organic SEO and also that paid search is only one part of the overall long term internet marketing strategy. If you place your entire online marketing budget into paid search, I sincerly urge you to think again. Think long term.

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