Auto Parts SEO vs Paid Search Case Study #3

seo vs ppc case study

This chart shows average paid search and organic search revenue, by week. Sales dollars were changed into an index to preserve client confidentiality. The bars on the left show average revenue for several weeks before the test. In the middle the bars show average revenue during the three weeks of the test. On the right the bars show average revenue for several weeks after the test.

We posted results of a case study on paid search for auto parts vs. search engine optimization (SEO) back in January, and we posted the results of one back in May, 2014.

Here is another case study showing actual results before, during and after paid brand advertising was paused for a client selling performance auto parts online.

The parameters of this test were simple: our client was running paid search ads for a variety of parts on their site, plus paid search ads for their own brand name. We paused all brand name ads as a test.

In cooperation with the client we paused brand advertising in Google AdWords and in Yahoo/Bing as a test but maintained all other search advertising. We decided to do this over a period of three weeks and we would monitor sales from paid search ads as well as sales from organic traffic. We also stopped all SEO work for this client just before and during the test to avoid skewing the results. We measured the results of the test week to week, Sunday through Saturday.

seo vs ppc case study

During the test paid search revenue dropped about 50% and revenue from organic search rose about 33%. The increase in organic search revenue was not enough to offset the loss in paid search revenue. Even when factoring in a reduction in paid search cost, total gross profit was down during the test.

Expected sales decrease from PPC + sales increase from organic = net loss in auto parts sales

At midnight on Sunday of the first week of the test, we stopped all brand advertising cold. The change in sales was dramatic as shown in the charts, which show average sales per week before, during and after this test (all sales figures are indexed to preserve confidentiality). While all brand PPC ads were paused, revenue from paid ads dropped by 50%. We figured there would be an increase in sales coming from organic traffic during the test and no surprise, sales from organic increased by about a third.

That’s a nice increase from organic traffic, but it wasn’t enough.

seo ppc case study after results

Results for the three weeks after the test: revenue coming from organic search dropped below pre-test levels. Total revenue coming from paid search advertising returned to normal levels.

We discovered that although organic revenue increased during the test, it did not increase enough to offset the loss in revenue from paid search.

Pausing brand advertising means the client is spending less in online ads, however, even when we factored in the cost savings, the result was a net loss in revenue and gross profit during the three-week test.

After the SEO/PPC brand test: a sales increase

In the three weeks after the test, when brand advertising was turned back on, total sales increased to near normal levels. Total revenue from paid search returned to normal, but for a period of three weeks revenue from organic traffic was below normal levels.

Conclusions: auto parts paid search vs SEO case study

This SEO vs paid search case study is our third case study where we have tested the effectiveness of organic search in conjunction with paid advertising. In this analysis, when brand advertising was turned off, total revenue for auto parts dropped and even though SEO revenue increased it was not enough to offset the total drop.

Even the elimination of spend for brand advertising was not to offset the total loss: total revenue dropped by thousands of dollars but the client only saved about $350 in spend during the test.

One concern in this latest test is that after brand advertising was turned back on, organic revenue increased but it has not yet returned to “normal” pre-test levels.

We’ve showed the results of similar studies conducted by Google, along with our previous case study, in last month’s article. In each test we have performed careful analysis and concluded consistently that paid search, combined with organic marketing/SEO, results in greater overall sales of auto parts and accessories than when just paid search or SEO is used.

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