SEO or PPC: Which Converts Better?

Whether searchers have a higher propensity to click on the organic search links or the sponsored links on the search engines, is a question that has been asked many times, and in the last few years research has provided the answer. The general consensus is that organic links receive 70% of clicks, versus sponsored links receiving the remaining 30%. But what about conversions, which converts better, SEO driven organic clicks or PPC sponsored links?

The answer to this question can be found in a recent study by Engine Ready, which bases its results on a study of 26 online retail sites over a period of 12 months. The results of the study found that searchers who arrived at an online retailer’s site from PPC ads were 50% more likely to buy than those who came from clicking on a natural search link. The conversion rate from the sponsored links was 2.03% compared to 1.26% from organic search.

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Further Findings of the Study

  • One of the theories behind this stronger conversion rate delivered by PPC clicks, is that the landing pages designed for PPC campaigns are more targeted to searcher intent than the home page result on which searchers are clicking in the organic links.
  • Consumers who were mostly likely to buy were those who navigated directly to the retailer’s site by typing in the URL or clicking on a bookmark, which indicates a familiarity with the retailer and the visit may be more linked to purchase intent.
  • Interestingly, paid search visitors purchased the most, with the highest average order value, $117.06 from paid compared to $106.64 from organic search.
  • Additionally, paid search visitors spent the most time on a page, with the average at 66 seconds. The study found that consumers who spent more time on a site were more likely to buy, which makes sense, as the time spent on the site would have been to investigate their purchase in greater detail.
  • Organic search results produced the highest bounce rate, which may again be linked to the untargeted nature of the pages on the search engines. Especially, as the pages indexed for certain key phrases by the search engines may not always be exactly what the searcher is looking for.

What this study shows is that searchers may be starting to appreciate the targeted nature of the PPC results, particularly in a retail environment in which searchers are actively researching online with the intent of making a purchase.

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