The Google AdWords Blog announced the results of a fascinating study:

Advertisers often wonder whether search ads cannibalize their organic traffic. If paid search ads were paused, would clicks on organic results increase and make up for the loss in paid traffic? Google statisticians recently ran over 400 studies on paused accounts to answer this question.

In what they call “Search Ads Pause Studies,” Google’s group of researchers observed organic click volume in the absence of search ads. Then they built a statistical model to predict click volume for given levels of ad spend. This model generates estimates for the incremental clicks attributable to search ads or, in other words, the percentage of paid clicks that are not made up for by organic clicks when search ads are paused.

On average, the incremental ad clicks (IAC) percentage across verticals is 89%. This means that a full 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused. This number was consistently high across verticals.

Of course, paid search ads also give you the advantage of appearing where and when you want to appear in search results, and with custom, tested messages that organic search doesn’t provide.

Paid search advertising is never a substitute for a good SEO strategy, but it certainly is an essential partner in maximizing exposure for your company and its products or services.

(Google has published its Search Ads Pause Studies results in full at You can watch a video about these studies at

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