Source: http://blog.compete.com/2011/09/08/forget-anchovies-hold-the-ppc-seo-management-helps-pizza-company-deliver-to-its-bottom-line/

After traveling through Europe on vacation the past couple of weeks, nothing said I was home more than grabbing a slice of New York pizza!

Deciding to do a blog post on the topic, I wanted to find out who the “big cheeses” were in the pizza world and see if I could find some insight into their web strategies.

Using the Keyword Destination tool on Compete.com to get a list of sites referred to by a broad match for the generic keyword “pizza”, I quickly found that Pizzahut.com and Dominos.com were the hands-down winners.  Approximately 16% of all “pizza” related search referrals went to Pizzahut.com and 5.8% went to Dominos.com.

Both Pizzahut and Dominos showed strong consumer brand recognition, as seen by looking at branded vs. non-branded search referral data collected by Compete:

With similar patterns in historical UV traffic, these two brands were ripe for comparison:

You would think that two strongly similar brands would show similar ad spend profiles, but I was surprised to see that visitors referred to Pizzahut.com via a search engine were 1.8X more likely to have reached the site through a paid search link as visitors to Dominos.com.

What’s the difference?

Using Compete.com again to analyze keyword search referrals to the two brands provided a bit more insight:

For the sake of brevity I am just including a few keywords, but the general trend was the same.  Pizzahut seems to struggle to rank for organic traffic for long-tail phrases, even those containing their brand name. Paid search helps augment low SERP placement by artificially ranking Pizzahut ahead of the couponing sites vying for this sort of referral.

The Bottom Line:

While there are certainly more “slices to the pie” that this brief analysis can’t cover, the bottom line is that there is a constant struggle going on behind the scenes between large brands and third party sites looking to ride on their coattails through coupon offerings, referral links, and product reviews.  If you find your manager questioning the value of SEO, consider that the average CPC for a “pizza” broad-match term was $0.63 (source: google adwords keyword estimator), and in Q2-2011 approximately 5 million search referrals were sent to both Pizzahut.com and Dominos.com. Strong SEO efforts can translate into significant savings through reduced ad spend on paid search!


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