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How to Link AdWords & Search Console to Understand Your Paid & Organic Search Relationship

June 26, 2018

What would The Office be without Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute?

What if you just had one or the other?

It might be watchable, but it wouldn’t be binge-worthy. That’s because it’s the relationship between the two that make The Office an award-winning TV series.

In the marketing world, organic and paid search are the Michael and Dwight to every search engine marketing strategy. Without one another, the strategy is not complete. By using them together, you can build a rockstar search engine marketing program.

In this post, I am going to explain how you can better understand your organic and paid search relationship by covering:

  1. How to link your Google AdWords and Search Console accounts
  2. How to run your paid and organic report
  3. Top insights from our own account analysis
  4. Tips on how you can use your paid and organic report to optimize your search strategy

Let’s get into it!

How to link your Google AdWords and Search Console accounts

As long as you have access to both Google AdWords and Search Console, this will be an easy step to complete. Simply click the gear on the top right of your Google AdWords interface, select “linked accounts”, and navigate to the Search Console option.

adwords linked accounts

Select “Details” under Search Console.

search console and adwords

Then click the + on the next screen to add your property.

how to link adwords and search console

If you don’t have access to your Search Console account, in most instances, your webmaster should be able to grant you the proper access. And if you don’t have a Google Search Console account – don’t panic, just follow these steps to set your account up today.

How to run your paid and organic report

At the time of writing this blog post, the new Google AdWords interface doesn’t have a dimension tab that will allow you to export this report. That being said, in the meantime, I will provide the workaround solution that we use.

First, navigate back to the previous AdWords interface by clicking the gear in the top right corner and selecting “return to the previous AdWords”. From there, select dimensions and “paid & organic” in the drop-down:

view paid and organic

Once you have the view up, be sure to modify your columns and date range to your liking. Keep in mind that conversion data is not available, as this report focuses in on impressions and clicks.

Once you are set, simply export your data and get ready to analyze!

What to look for when reviewing your report

In this report, you will see two types of queries: “Both shown” and “Ad shown only,” which are defined as:

Both shown: Simply put, when your organic and paid listing rank for the same query. In order to understand the correlation between paid and organic search, we will focus on this search result type in this post.

Ad shown only: Reports on search queries that trigger an AdWords ad impression, but no organic listing. This search result type allows you to analyze search terms and better pinpoint organic keyword rank weaknesses and opportunities.

You will also notice that there are three sections that define the data points. These are: Ad Stats, Organic Stats, and Combined ad and organic stats:

combined ad and organic stats

Here is a breakout of what each segment reports:

adwords search console data

Now that you have your Google AdWords and Google Search Console accounts linked, you have your dimension report exported, and you understand the data points, you are ready to gather your own insights!

What did we find when we ran our paid and organic report?

Disclaimer: Remember that the insights below are based off of our account and will not be the same for every advertiser.

Following the steps in this post, we ran our own paid and organic search analysis. Our review helped us to answer these 3 questions:

How does the presence and rank of our organic listing impact ad performance?

To answer this, we applied two filters to our exported report:

  1. “Both Shown” search result type
  2. Organic listing position on page 1 (positions 1-10)

We concluded that organic position does have a direct correlation on ad click-through rate:

correlation of paid and organic ctr

As you can see in the graph above; as organic rank drops from position 3 to 4, our AdWords click-through rate outperforms organic results. When you think about the architecture of Google’s search engine results page, this makes total sense; as organic listings become less visible, users are most apt to click on your ad result instead.

Not only did we conclude a direct correlation between our organic position and click-through rate, but we also opened up a whole new paid search opportunity: new keywords!

Using Google Search Console, we produced a list of search queries with an average organic rank of 4+ that we could add as new keywords to our Google AdWords campaigns.

Does organic search outperform paid search for brand search queries?

Paid search strategists are constantly asked: “Why should we spend money on our own brand terms when we rank in top organic position?” Well, along with the 5 reasons explained in this blog post, we did some digging with our paid and organic report and found that:

While organic click-through rate beats paid search CTR for branded terms, organic click-through rate for branded search terms improves by 17% when a paid result appears at the same time as the organic result.

We then filtered out brand search queries and asked:

On average, over all the data, is organic or paid search click-through rate higher?

With no filters on average position, we found that our Google AdWords click-through rate is ~38% stronger than organic click-through rate for non-branded search terms. On the other hand, when we applied a filter for page 1 organic rank, we found that organic click-through rate is 370% stronger than paid click-through rate.

Just as we discussed in point 1, this tells us that positioning is key to your click-through rate performance.

Now, take our steps and run your own analysis today!

Kristina Simonson

Kristina Simonson

Kristina Simonson is a digital marketing specialist at WordStream and is in charge of managing our own paid search and paid social accounts. When she’s not busy driving leads, she enjoys traveling, running, and adventuring for the best margarita in town.