Paid and Unpaid Search: Together, Forever
Ian Lurie Dec 2 2006
Every few months a client comes to me and says “Now that I’m top 3 for Super Widgets in the unpaid rankings on Google, can we cancel my paid search listings?”
Usually, no. Here’s two reasons:
- If you have a top-3 spot in the paid rankings, your competitors don’t. You’re denying them access to the audience.
- If customers see your search result in two locations on the same page, they’re far more likely to click on one of them. In our tests, an unpaid listing in the top 3 positions gets far more clicks if there’s a paid ad in the top 3 positions, too, than if there is no ad on that page. Higher frequency means more clicks.
Here’s a really interesting tidbit, too: On Google, we get better results with a paid ad in the number three spot than in the top position. Why? On most Google search result pages, the number three paid ad is closer to the unpaid search results. So your potential customers see your paid and unpaid search listings in closer proximity to each other, and they’re more likely to click.
So you really need to keep those paid search ads up, no matter how strong your unpaid rankings. The good news, though, is that clicks on your paid ads will drop as you move up in the unpaid rankings. That, in turn, means you’ll pay less and less, but still reap the benefits.
CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He’s recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch.
Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle.