I have a slightly confusing problem which I haven't come across before, I'm hoping some of you will be able to shed some light on it for me.
I have a store for which we had consistent growth for a few years, as a result we decided to start advertising on Google display ads and social. When the ads started the strangest thing happened. We had an increase in new user traffic, an increase in the bounce rate (as expected) but we had a decrease in overall sales.
I can't seem to get my head around why the overall sales would drop when nothing else was changed. I can understand the bounce rate and conversion rate dropping as there was new traffic which might not be of the same quality but how can this cause existing customers to stop buying my product. The drop was around 40% in overall sales, so quite a big hit.
I did a bit more digging around and found that there was also a drop in organic traffic of about 29% this was one of our best-converting traffic sources. I have a feeling that this has something to do with competition. Is it possible that my ad campaign triggered a counter-campaign from one of my competitors with a bigger ad budget and therefore they are taking a lot of the organic search traffic?
I'm hoping someone can help me figure this out as it is very strange and I can't seem to find any other examples of where this has happened to someone. Any help is appreciated.
Hi - I think this might be a very pertinent article for you to read https://moz.com/blog/how-google-adwords-ppc-affects-organic-results
However, even after going over that article and attributing some of your natural search drop to cannibalisation (either from your ads or a competitors) the sort of numbers you are quoting sound like there is something else going on as well and the PPC ads may just be a coincidence that is obfuscating the truth.
More likely that you have, for whatever reason, had a drop in your organic rankings (nothing to do with PPC). So I would have a dig around in your Natural traffic stats on Google Webmaster and see if your main performing keywords have dropped in rank. Did your drop also coincide with any Google algorithm changes? (https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change) They also did a broad core update on the 13th of this month.
Only other thing I can think of is seasonality. Is your 40% drop like for like i.e. this Jan vs last Jan?
I know none of that specifically gives you an answer, but I thought it might help trigger some thoughts/further things to look at.
There was a Google Core update this month which could cause organic traffic drop. Maybe there are some issues with your site. I'd recommend a crawl of your site and see what are possible issues. You can try Pulno (note: I'm co-author of Pulno) to see tooltips.
Do you track position of keywords in Google? Were there any major drops?
Thanks for your answer, some really helpful insights there.
I have taken a look around the organic stats in Search console but haven't been able to spot any major drops in keyword performance which only makes this issue more confusing.
The drop occurred in early 2019, I have only been handed the case by the client so its a bit harder to track the drop against the updates at the time.
I think the main focus now for me is to increase the organic traffic again. I just thought I would see if someone had any ideas as to what could have caused this drop as if it was a major error I would like to fix that and learn why it happened before moving past it.
Thank you so much for you reply, it was very helpful!
Yeah, my first thought was cannibalization as well or that you simply got hit by a general drop in organic traffic. If you're looking to drive new organic traffic for new phrases you can do so by utilizing the existing traffic/customers you do have to build that content for you with their product questions...and then if your product question and answer app is doing it's thing well...that will be getting you results like this in organic results as people ask similar product questions through Google:
Answerbase has use cases where customers through organic traffic to that Q&A content has an average lifetime value (LTV) of up to 2x higher than normal Google traffic...you can track it in Google Analytics stats around user LTV and their acquisition sources. Let us know if we can help, would be happy to walk you through how it all works.
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