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It’s always tempting to see silo marketing tactics and see them as discrete efforts working in isolation. Treating each channel as its own island generally requires less analysis and lends itself to simpler conclusions (A+B = C) but cross channel analysis isn’t optional anymore and ignores the fact that customers often take a multi-channel path to conversion.

Here’s one client example that clearly illustrates the potential relationship between PPC and SEO.

In an isolated channel mindset, May through October represents a coincidence – that organic search traffic declined due to algorithm updates or a new site launch and that it just so happens that paid search was decreased in that month in an effort to improve profitability. But what if paid search spend what was actually generating organic search traffic?  That’s what November and December potentially indicate.

How would that be possible?  A couple options:

  • You believe that part of Google’s organic search algorithm is how much a site spends on paid search. Possible but less likely.
  • What’s more likely is…
    1. The more you spend, the more your ads appear
    2. The more visitors see your brand, in turn the more visits are recorded via Direct
    3. After a period of increased Direct visits, the algorithm that Google uses to evaluate this type of session gets triggered, and Google improves Organic rank for non-branded terms

This second option speaks to something that we know to true: Google and search engines in general value the quality of a user’s experience. What’s the true answer to this puzzle? Only continued testing will tell. Whether its experimenting with how programmatic can improve paid search profitability or how landing page updates affect conversion rate, the bottom line is individual marketing efforts cannot be analyzed in a vacuum.