How to analyse traffic interaction between PPC and SEO in 3 steps

Online marketers often wonder whether it really pays off to put money into PPC when their shop is already ranking high in organic search results due to SEO efforts. In the following, I will show you how to analyse the interaction of PPC and SEO traffic, and their impact on overall revenue. This way, you will learn how users interact with your website, you will gain a better understanding of your online business and decide which channels you need to push the most.

I prepared this analysis for a customer who was unsure if he should keep his AdWords brand campaign running. To create the analysis, I used Google Analytics. Now let me walk you through the process step by step!

Step 1: Segment keywords

In Google Analytics you can easily split the traffic between PPC and SEO. Log into your Analytics account and go to “Conversions” > “Multi-Channel Funnel” > “Top Conversion Paths”.


Here we want to segment our keywords into four different groups:

  • Generic SEO
  • Brand SEO
  • Generic PPC
  • Brand PPC

The goal is to analyse the interaction of these groups and to understand their significance for the user’s search path.

In order to split your keywords into these four groups, you need to create customised channel groupings and define your default specifications. Click on “Channel grouping” and choose the function “Create a custom channel grouping”.


Rule No. 1: Generic SEO


It’s important that your medium only contains organic keywords, as we only want to group SEO keywords in this case. Also, you should specify that the keyword does not match the regular expression [brand keywords + misspellings]. Using this regular expression, you can exclude all brand keywords from this list.

Rule No. 2: Brand SEO


This procedure is very similar to that of grouping brand SEO keywords. You only need to include all brand keywords with a regular expression, instead of excluding them as in Rule No.1. In this case, it’s important to include not only pure brand terms but also misspellings and other brand-related keywords. We need this information to better differentiate between brand-related and generic terms.

Rule No. 3: Generic PPC


In setting your medium to “CPC”, you can now group all PPC keywords. The ad distribution network must not contain any content, as we only want to consider keywords from Google’s search network. On top of that, your keywords should not match the regular expression [brand keywords + misspellings] in order to exclude all brand keywords from this list.

Rule No. 4: Brand PPC


Follow the same steps as of Rule No. 3. This time, however, you need to include brand-related keywords.

Step 2: Download your results

Before exporting the results, you need to:

  • Select the correct data range
  • Export only E-commerce transactions
  • Path length: select “all”
  • Expand the lookback window to 90 days to include as many conversion paths as possible.
  • Export all results.


Step 3: Analyse the data

Now I can analyse the interaction between PPC and SEO! Using Excel’s filtering option, we can examine the different types of interactions. In our case, I decided to determine which percentage of conversions that have a first click in PPC ended in SEO, and vice versa.


Below you can find an example of interesting interactions between SEA and SEO that you can analyse in your keyword report.

The analysis has been really helpful for our client to better understand the interaction between PPC and SEO keywords. The results show that the cannibalisation between SEO and PPC was minimal, and only 7% of total revenues were generated by SEO-PPC touch points. What’s more: out of these 7%, PPC keywords were touch points in the user’s search path in 69% of all cases. Hence, SEO could, in fact, even benefit from PPC traffic.

The analysis therefore answers the client’s question: “Do I have to keep my PPC brand campaigns running?” Yes, you definitely should!

These campaigns not only generate revenue but they are also essential touch points in the user’s search history. Overall, this is a great example of how PPC and SEO can work together to maximise your shop’s exposure on Google and to contribute to the overall growth of your business.

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