A year or so ago, the guy in charge of local search for a fairly big brand wanted to see if we were interested in a project to research if the vendor running their Adwords campaign was “stealing” their local organic traffic by spending millions each month running PPC ads on all of their branded local queries (e.g. “[BRAND] [CITY]”, “[BRAND] near me”, “[BRAND] [CITY] hours”, etc.). I told him he could save his money because the answer was almost certainly “yes”.
I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of bidding on your branded keywords (well maybe a con or two). Kirk Williams does a great job discussing the subject on YouMoz.
I am going to get into the reality of what can happen when your PPC team/vendor operates in a silo and likely has an incentive to increase its PPC spend (e.g. their commission/bonus is based on a % of the media spend and/or total clicks, there’s a big buying event, like a holiday, coming up and they want to increase visibility, trying to increase quality scores, etc.), but they fail to take into account the other marketing channels – which typically means the SEO channel, which is often seated at the corporate kiddie table and thus is not included in the grown ups’ big important marketing plans.
So your trusty SEO vendor checks your organic traffic regularly and notices there has been a sharp drop in organic traffic for branded queries in the past few days. Nothing has changed on the site or with its rankings over that time. There’s nothing that suggests seasonality is a factor.
You tell me what you think happened…
Now it’s quite possible that Google updated how ad units display on Local SERPs, taking over more real estate and killing organic traffic, but it’s also possible that this particular brand appears to have increased its ad targeting against branded keywords recently and that the in-house team responsible for SEO had no clue (or played dumb…) when their SEO consultant asked about any recent changes in PPC tactics or performance.
If my hunch is correct, what we have is a case of a PPC team spending thousands of dollars more per week for whatever reason and making a nice dent in branded organic (aka “free”) traffic, leaving the SEO team holding the bag.
But hey, we’re all on the same team right?…
If SEO accounts for 40% of your revenue shouldn’t it account for more than 0.04% of your marketing & tech budget? #JustSayin
— ((Andrew Shotland)) (@localseoguide) August 31, 2016