Buying brand traffic from Google

by Jim August 27, 2019

It’s an old debate, but one that has reared its head once more recently; that of paying for your own brand traffic. Many people don’t see the point of throwing more money at Google when they already do it to try to rank organically, but here’s why you should consider it.

What I learned

  • Should you pay Google for your brand?
  • Why most Google traffic doesn’t leave their site
  • Is SEO dead?
  • Why ads convert better than organic
  • Should you run a brand campaign?


Hey, welcome back, Rankers. How are you going? There`s been a bit of an eruption about people talking about paying for your own traffic on Google, like paying for your own brand traffic. This is an old, very old, argument that`s been had by many people, and a lot of customers that we speak to don`t like paying Google for their own brand. They say, `We already have to pay all this money to Google anyway, why should we have to pay for our brand? Shouldn`t we just get that organically? Shouldn`t we just rank number one?`

Should you buy your brand?

There was a bit of hoo-ha on Twitter last week. I don`t know if Marty at Aimclear started it, but he certainly added fuel to the fire, and this came out from a report that said, `Hey, guess what, everyone? Most of Google`s traffic doesn`t leave the website. It stays at Google.` It`s like, yeah, we know. We can see Google Search Console, we can see the impressions and the clicks that we don`t get in Google Search Console. We know sometimes people don`t even reach the site, and there`s a lot of reasons for this.

Some people are saying, `Oh, well, you`re taking business from me if people don`t come to my site, if Google doesn`t send people to my site organically.` Well, a lot of the time, people are just looking for phone numbers, right, so you may still get the call. But one of the things that I thought was interesting was a couple of comments. I think it was Tim Soulo, there was Barry Adams, there was Marty Weintraub, there was Christine, surname that I don`t know how to say, and a few others. Everyone basically was weighing in and having their say about whether you should buy traffic or whether you should just let it come to you organically, and there`s the whole story about, you know, SEO is dead, and all these sorts of things flying around as well.

Basically, for us, you`ve got to find that balance. You can`t ignore paid brand traffic. This is like if we were … Well, we buy our own brand, StewArt Media, right? So if you go and have a look at your brand campaigns, and this is one we prepared earlier, I mean, who`s going to give that up? $756 brings in $36,000. That`s nearly a 5,000% return on your investment. That`s crazy, right? So why wouldn`t you do that?

You might say, `Well, yeah, it`s still $756 though, Jim, so, could you have got that traffic for free anyway?` Well, no, because here`s the thing, ads will convert generally a lot better than organic. The reason for that is quite simple. They`re better targeted, they`re better focused, and usually the pages that the user ends up on are actually the right pages.

With organic, a lot of the times that people are clicking through to your website, they`re not ending up at their final destination. They`re still two or three clicks away from it. They might land at your home page, might land at a category, something like that, and maybe they`re not at the product. So Google ads has the ability to send people directly to the product, right, and just buy the thing.

Brand campaigns – Good & bad

The problem starts to arise when you buy a brand campaign, this is what happens to your organic traffic, and this is what people are talking about online, and it`s not great, right? You switch on your brand campaign, and bang, you lose half your organic traffic, which is why we don`t do … Well, we`ve got one client, but generally we`re not taking on new clients where we`re not doing the paid as well, because it`s really difficult to do, because we look at that, and if you`re not doing the paid, and the client says, `Well, why has all of my organic traffic dropped?` Well, the reason is you`re now buying it and it`s not organic anymore.

However, it`s worth doing. $756 and you get $36,000 back, that`s pretty good. But what does it actually mean? Am I still making money? Well, I`ve gone through, for this particular client, because it`s a discussion I`m having with him at the moment, and for me, the danger is not having to pay for your branded traffic. To me the danger is that it becomes your major channel of revenue, your dominant revenue channel, and it`d be a bit like one business having one client that basically provided the lion`s share of revenue, and when that client leaves, what happens to the business?

So if you`re a retailer or someone like that, and you`ve got all these ads running, and you`re paying Google all this money, and it`s working well for you, like in the case of this client, even though we`re seeing 5,000% return on that brand campaign, the difference of what we`ve lost in organic and what we`ve gained in paid, we`re still making around a 1,400% return on the spend in Google, even with that.

So you do actually get more than what you had if you pay for brand, but the problem is, is if you become reliant on it, then you are beholden to Google and that is an issue. So you don`t want to have to keep paying for your own customers to get them back, time after time after time. That`s why you`ve got to start employing other strategies, how you stay in contact with your clients, what sort of email, newsletters, what are you doing? How are you collecting their information? How do you make sure that you don`t have to pay to get them back to your website next time?

This whole concept that SEO is organic, is free traffic, is, of course, laughable. Most people saying that are probably doing SEO themselves for their own sites, right, because they`re not paying themselves, maybe. But usually, someone has to pay someone money to get SEO done properly. Now, that isn`t to say that, `Oh, we should all just be buying ads.` No, you should be buying it where you can. You should be using Google to help build your brand, because one of the things I think Barry said was that, funny the people telling people to build their brand and forget about Google are also telling people to spend money with Google.

Well, you`ve got to use Google. You don`t want to depend on it. You don`t want to rely on it, so you`ve got to use the paid products to get your traffic, help build your brand, use the YouTube products, all those sorts of things. Build your brand with them. Organic is not dead. The skills are very much required right now, good solid SEO tech skills. What`s not required are people building backlinks. That is it for this week`s show and we`ll see you next week. Thanks very much. Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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