If your company advertises through the Google Adwords program, you'll want to pay close attention to the search giant's recent rollout. Though its name -- the "Paid & Search" report -- is relatively no-frills, the information contained in this new section can provide your business with valuable, actionable marketing data so you can make the right decisions to drive your website's growth.
Essentially, the report combines two data sets that already existed within separate Google programs to help users gain a better understanding of their presence within the engine's paid and organic results. By combining the paid ad data made available within the Adwords program with the organic search presence information found in Webmaster Tools, webmasters can draw a number of different conclusions about the effectiveness of their current web marketing efforts.
Identify missed opportunities to place PPC ads: If your business advertises with Google Adwords, you know that your ads will only appear in the search results for the specific keywords on which you bid enough per-click to earn a spot in the paid advertisement blocks. And while your keyword research and discovery process may be thorough, there's always the chance that it will miss potentially valuable phrases.
By examining the data on the Paid & Search report, businesses can identify the phrases for which they have natural search impressions without any corresponding ads. Given previous research data published by Google which indicates that "the click-through rates of ads with associated organic search results are higher," this could present new opportunities to improve performance in both the natural search results and in revenue generated via pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
Uncover high-value keyword phrases: The reverse of the previous conclusion is also true. If your company has been advertising successfully for a given keyword, but is not receiving organic traffic from the same search query, this represents a potential search engine optimization (SEO) priority that should be addressed immediately.
Improve website and PPC campaign results: One final advantage to having this data listed side-by-side is the ability to monitor the impact of website changes and adjustments made to PPC campaigns.
To see how this might play out in real life, take the following screenshot example, provided by Google:
In this case, average click through rate when only a paid ad was displayed was 14.95 percent, while the number of clicks per query jumped to 36.88 percent when only an organic result was shown.
This disparity could be the natural result of consumers' preference for clicking on organic listings (roughly 80 percent of search clicks are still "organic"), or it could indicate that something in the company's PPC strategy isn't resonating with target customers. Testing different ads and monitoring changes in performance metrics using the Paid & Search report could result in a substantial boost in your return on investment.
All of that said, today's marketers have some concerns about how useful this new report will be. While some view its release as a market grab by Google -- something along the lines of, "See how much better you could be doing if you gave us more money?" -- others have raised important concerns about the accuracy of the data provided.
In an interview with Ben Davis of the eConsultancy blog, search marketer Dan Barker raised issue with both the notorious inaccuracy of Webmaster Tools data and the increasingly high number of "not provided" results, saying that the big thing isn't about "not provided" search data, it's about having better data overall compared to Google Webmaster Tools.
Having both data sets listed side-by-side can make campaign analysis easier for marketers who choose to use this new report. And Google itself has addressed some of these concerns, saying that having a paid & organic report is incredibly useful in understanding interactions between paid and organic search.
The full value of the Paid & Search report remains to be seen, but as long as the concerns listed here are addressed, this new feature stands poised to provide webmasters with valuable data that can be used to drive improvements in both natural search and PPC campaign performance. If you're interested in getting started with this new report, begin by linking your Webmaster Tools and Adwords accounts using Google's instructions. Once your data has begun to sync, you'll be able to access the new report from within the "Dimensions" panel of your Adwords account.