If you advertise with Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), does it impact your website’s search engine rankings in Google’s organic search engine results? This question has been one that so many have debated over and over again for years. In fact, I even recall it being discussed back in the early days of Google. Some still, to this day, swear that you’ll get better rankings if you advertise with Google Ads. Let’s put this myth to rest once and for all: advertising with Google (giving them money) essentially has no impact on a website’s organic (natural) search engine rankings.
There are several reasons why I personally think that advertising with Google Ads has no impact and doesn’t have an effect on your ability to rank in their organic search engine results. Here are a few of my thoughts, not necessarily in order of importance:
- It’s an ethical reason. If you gave Google money and they then boosted your natural or organic search results, that would be a bad thing for Google. We’d end up not trusting Google as much.
- If Google allowed payment for boosting natural organic search results there could be FTC-related consequences, potentially. Organic search engine rankings are free and not paid.
- Google has adamantly made it clear, for years, that the Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) database and data isn’t shared in any way with Google’s organic SERPs. A recent Tweet by John Mueller confirmed this.
What Does Google Say?
Google has actually published a few articles (and marketing material) about Google Ads, and they address this very topic:
Why we sell advertising, not search results.
Google Ads: SEO vs. PPC?
PPC ads like Google Ads are paid online advertisements which appear next to relevant searches and other content on the web. Running a Google Ads campaign does not help your SEO rankings, despite some myths and claims. However, PPC ads can be helpful in connecting with a wider audience online. — Google
I recently asked John Mueller from Google his thoughts about this rumor that still is around. Here’s what he said:
While there has been some evidence that PPC (paid ads such as Google Ads) can have an effect on SEO, I think it’s a residual effect and not a direct effect. Some also say that advertising your brand keywords may actually help get more clicks on your organic search engine listings, it does have another effect. Bidding on your own company name, for example, may cause people to click on your organic search engine listing more often. And, it can also help stop others from bidding on your company name.
What Do the Search Industry Experts Say?
I’ve heard from some other industry experts about whether or not advertising with Google Ads has an influence on a website’s organic search engine rankings. Many had some interesting things to say:
Ryan Jones: “people are still saying this? it seems we kill the same SEO myths every year.”
Mike Dammann: “Visibility and recognition matters. People click when they’ve gotten to trust your brand based on increased exposure”
Michael Cottam: “I’d say yes, having people see your brand twice on the page can increase clicks on your organic result. I’ve seen about a 5%-10% increase on organic clicks, years ago. Nothing to do with Google or rankings though–it’s just psychology. I see your brand everywhere, therefore you must be big in this space.”
Marty Weintraub: “As always, it’s a shell game between causation and correlation. More paid search imprints brand on audiences. More branding causes more brand kw search frequency. More brand kw search causes more organic kw traffic, conversion, and may impact Google’s perception of brand. If Google thinks you’re a bigger ass brand, does that effect organic SERPs? ”
David Dalka, Managing Director at Fearless Revival: “Although I’ve never seen the data, it is possible that there could be a statisitical correlation between these events even if Google has no algrorithm that ties the two together. For example, it could be that companies that do both paid search and SEO are more sophisticated overall and create this impression.”
Roger Montti: “There’s an indirect/direct benefit to advertising on keywords. I did it even on keywords in which I ranked #1. It is about promoting your site, to get the word out about your site and keeping it top of mind.
Here is what John Mueller said about promoting your site to earn links:
“So basically on the one hand that involves some amount of self-promotion from your side like you have to get some people to come and visit your website somehow so that they can recognize that this is actually a good website.
And there are lots of ways that you can do that. And then that also involves one of those people or some of those people going well, this is a really fantastic website and I have another website that I can link… from where I can link to your website.
So it’s not the case that every visitor coming to your website will say it’s a fantastic website and I also have a website and let me link to your website from my website, but some of these people they can.””
Marty Marion: “if that were true (that PPC boosts organic) the big boys would get all the SERP all the time. Spend 7 figures or more a month on PPC and dominate this. For sites like Eddie Bauer and Guess the PPC spend was easily big 7 figures and still had to work hard to rank 1, 2 or 3 for non brand keywords. So no matter what Google talking heads say, my opinion is that there is very little impact. Brand recognition? Sure. Organic boost? Nah.”
Alan Bleiweiss: “I have absolute, proof that spending money on AdWords has a DIRECT causal impact on SEO.
Every dollar spent on AdWords is a dollar not available for SEO. Because of this you miss out on opportunities to get higher organic rankings. The end result is missed organic traffic.
This is a mathematical fact. So I hope you reconsider your position and accept reality.”
Alex Valencia: “It’s an awesome argument. As far as my clients it be safe to say we are a mostly organic SEO firm. However, in many instances with clients that do have a healthy paid budget We’ve seen data where it is definitely somewhat impacting organic with the branding aspect that translates to more traffic, to more clicks and growing giving organic a slight push. I don’t think it’s a position push but rather a healthy nudge. If it’s within budget and you can pay for some traffic and give your site a boost in efforts to be top of mind and create brand awareness around theme of your site. Why not test it?”
I do think there is some validity to promoting your content via Google Ads to get more readers–don’t just rely on Google’s organic search engine results and rankings, as they can take time. Promote your content to get links, as Roger mentioned in his comment and in the SEJ article. Promote it on social media, promote it using Google Ads. It can actually get links via Google Ads, especially if you’re targeting the right keywords. And, I really do agree with Alan’s comment: if you spend money on Google Ads, then that money can’t go into SEO. But when it comes right down to it, there are reasons why Google’s PPC algorithms are different than their organic search engine algorithms. But, more importantly, I personally think that it comes down to trust. Would you use Google if all of their search engine results were paid search results? If you knew that paying for Google Ads had an influence on the organic search engine results? I know I wouldn’t.